Majettes ready for state swimming and diving meet

Ashton Gerard/MDN Minot High School senior Olivia Schoffstall completes a dive during a high school swim meet earlier this season at Magic City Campus. Schoffstall is one of four divers competing at the State Meet this weekend in West Fargo.

Led by a strong core of seniors and the West Region Coach of the Year, Emily Jensen, the Minot High School girls swimming and diving team is looking forward to the state meet, which begins tomorrow in West Fargo.

The Majettes are coming off a strong showing at the regional meet and are tapering their workouts to maximize their energy for the final test of the season.

For the seven seniors going to state, this will be their last opportunity to represent their school as swimmers and divers. For some, this will be their first appearance on the big stage. All of them will have to adapt to a different environment.

“We haven’t had a state meet in the Fargo pool yet,” Jensen said. “So, I think the atmosphere might be a little bit different than what we’re used to.”

Senior freestyler Hannah Zaderaka has been mentally preparing for the state meet all season.

Ashton Gerard/MDN Majettes senior Becca Boen takes a breath during a freestyle event at a high school swim meet earlier this season in Minot. Boen will be competing in the 100-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle at the State Meet in West Fargo.

“It was a hard season,” Zaderaka admitted. “We trained really hard this year, a lot harder than I feel like we’ve trained previous years. It was a little different, but I think it’s been working really well for us and this last WDA weekend it really showed how it’s paid off, so that’s really fun to see.”

Some of the athletes were worried at the beginning of the season that their swims weren’t fast enough in comparison to prior seasons. However, as the season progressed, the Majettes showed progress and growth when it matters most.

One thing Zaderaka has personally been working on is swimming her own race and trying to better her own times, not just trying to beat whoever is in the lane next to her.

“Mentality, I went into this season (knowing) it’s my last season,” Zaderaka said. “I wanted to have more fun and I’ve noticed that when it comes to swim meets, I’m not as stressed. I’m having more fun and I’ve been swimming better.”

Her new approach really came into play at the West Region Meet, as she was able to cut times where she wanted to and really focus on her race.

Fellow senior Rylie Webb will be chasing after two individual state titles in the individual medley and breaststroke. Webb took first in the 200-yard individual medley at the West Region Meet with a final time of 2:13.73. She currently holds the second-fastest seed time for the state meet behind Gracie Lingle of Fargo Davies.

Webb took second in the WDA breaststroke to Carly Palmer of Century, who currently holds the fastest seed time for the state meet with Webb close behind with the No. 2 seed time.

With one opportunity left to qualify at the West Region Meet, Majettes’ freshman Emma Rouse was able to qualify for state in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 26.63 seconds.

“She’ll be swimming the 50 for us which is a nice addition,” Jensen said. “She’s seeded pretty well, so we’re hoping that she can maybe squeeze in and score some points too.”

Overall, the Majettes had a strong regional meet and it’s something Jensen is hoping they can build off of this weekend.

Minot High diving coach Barb McPeak had a tough choice heading into the State Meet as five athletes qualified, but she could only choose four to compete.

“They kind of knew that we were going to (choose) the best at the WDA and two of the girls were pretty close together going in,” McPeak said about the decision. “Brooklyn Casey broke 300 (points) for the first time, so that was a big milestone for her and we went with her pretty much for that reason.”

Joining Casey in representing Minot High for diving includes seniors Adisynn Widdel, Olivia Schoffstall and seventh-grader Ella Kesler.

Kesler will compete in the state meet as the only seventh-grade diver.

“She’s actually seeded in, I think, the Top 18, so it’s pretty good,” McPeak said. “It’s exciting to see what she’ll do.”

The young talent came out for diving just to see if it was something she’d want to do in the future and from Day 1, she was hooked. Now, Kesler will perform on the biggest stage in the state.

“It feels really cool because I didn’t even start at the right time and I’ve only been (diving for a short time),” Kesler said. “I scored really well at WDA and now I’m going to state.”

McPeak said she’s really trying to put a focus on fun. She wants the four divers to have a good experience at the state meet, and not just because they performed well.

“They always dive way better when they’re having fun,” McPeak said. “At the end of the day it’s diving, it’s not life or death.”

The Majettes took third at the state meet last year behind Century and Fargo Davies. This year, the team sees the potential to move up to at least second place.

“It’s going to be quite a fight,” Zaderaka said. “Our girls are looking so strong though and they’ve been doing so great in practice that I know they’re going to do great things again this weekend.”

When it comes to the state meet, anything is possible.

“You never know what can happen,” Jensen said. “There’s heartaches and upsets all the time and hopefully we’re on the positive end of that spectrum more than not.”

Preliminaries begin Friday at the Hulbert Aquatic Center in West Fargo. Sixteen swimmers will move on to the finals and the divers will be cut from 40 to 20 on Friday.