Mankato West, St. Peter earn trips to Class A state meet

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 11:05 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Mankato West girls’ swim and dive team won its third-consecutive section title last week, propelling the senior-dominant program to the Class A state meet.

Performing on Minnesota’s biggest stage is nothing new for the Scarlets, having reached state in every one of Dave Burgess’ 26-years of coaching.

“Mainly at this point, they know what they’re doing, and it’s just more or less taking that momentum that we gained from winning sections into the next couple of days to maintain where we’re at then hopefully drop a little bit more going into state,” Burgess said.

Mankato West is represented in all three relays, a handful of individual events, as well as on the diving board in this year’s state meet.

One of West’s top-point scorers, senior Sophia Leonard, qualified in all four of her events, a goal set at the start of the season.

“I just really want to get top eight in all of my events. I’m seeded top eight in all of them right now, so I’d like to stay that way and possibly get All-State,” Leonard said.

The Scarlets boast depth from top to bottom. Nine seniors come in with state experience, supported by standout sophomores Olivia Leonard, Catherine Bittner and Lucy Yogt.

“They are very qualified and know a lot about swimming, so they help me out and they’ve helped me get where I am now too,” senior Lydia Krautkremer added.

“Every time I’ve really asked them to step up, they had. They’ve fought it out and done a fantastic job and that’s neat to have that you can just ask them ‘Hey, let’s go tonight’ and they do,” Burgess stated.

After a second-place finish in the girls’ 1A Championship, St. Peter is set to make a splash at this year’s state meet.

”We’re both there to support each other. It’s our first time going together, so we want it to be good,” Hannah Denzer said.

Hannah and Olivia Denzer are both heading to state for the Saints, and because the sisters finished first and second in the Section 1A 200-yard freestyle, they’ll now be competing against each other at the big meet.

“I guess going in the same event is also really crazy because I don’t think any of us saw that coming, it’s really fun,” Olivia said.

Hannah secured section titles in both the 200 and 500 yard free events.

“It’s crazy, I didn’t think I’d be section champ. Especially in seventh grade, when I didn’t even make it in the top eight,” Hannah added.

The sophomore set new school records in the 200 and 500 free during sections. Pushing her every stroke along the way in training is older sister Olivia.

“During practice, we race each other. Even if we don’t say we are, you can tell we’re racing each other,” Hannah said.

“Having her there every step of the way makes it easier. I know she’s there to support me, and she knows I’m there to support her,” Olivia stated.

The Denzer sisters will hit the pool for the Class A prelims Friday at 12 p.m. inside the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.

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