Favorites Omaha Marian, Lincoln Southwest set for Saturday showdown

Lincoln Southwest’s Berkeley Livingston swam a 2:03.76 in the girls 200-yard IM prelims Friday, which was the state’s sixth-fastest time ever in the event.

LINCOLN — Omaha Marian and Lincoln Southwest successfully navigated the first day of the state girls swimming championships Friday just as co-favorites should.

The Crusaders and Silver Hawks, winners of the past five team titles, are poised for another sprint to the finish to see which squad gets to make their coach join them in the Devaney Center pool for the victory celebration late Saturday afternoon.

While Marian looks to win its first title since edging Southwest by a half-point in 2015, the Silver Hawks are set to play the role of three-time defending champions when the meet resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. The meet is scheduled to be broadcast by NET.

Both coaches said their teams performed well in the prelims and were looking forward to Saturday’s action-packed finals.

“We did very well today,” Marian coach BJ Christiansen said. “Top to bottom, we got a lot of best times from conference or at least stayed even. Some girls when you start the taper process, they might swim fast at conference, then it gets tough to come back, especially with the nerves on Friday.”

Christiansen said the Crusaders were a little tired Friday morning after spending Thursday night in a Lincoln hotel, but he expects a typical Marian Saturday when it’s time for the finals.

“We’ve got 24 hours-ish now to rest up and do some recovery stuff,” Christiansen said. “Hopefully they’ll come back and swim fast. It’s been something we’ve been very good at all season, swimming fast on Saturdays.”

Southwest coach Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt said she was pleased with the way senior leaders such as Anna Heinrich and Berkeley Livingston took charge and showed a few Silver Hawk newbies how to handle opening-day jitters to help the entire team produce a big set of first-day swims.

“Our kids swam where I thought they’d swim,” Fetter-Witt said. “They’ve been through this a couple of times, and we have a lot of freshmen, and for them it’s like a deer in headlights sometimes that first year.”

Only two all-time Top 10 marks were posted in the prelims, both by swimmers already on the lists.

Marian’s 200-yard medley relay quartet of Maddie Clark, Jocelyn Randby, Isabella Pantano and Amanda Allbery solidified its hold on the No. 6 spot by swimming a season-best 1:45.99.

Livingston moved from seventh to sixth all-time in the 200 individual medley by touching first in 2:03.76. Livingston also was the fastest qualifier in the 500 freestyle in 4:58.21, just off her career best of 4:55.21, a time that has her at No. 3 all-time.

Pantano put herself in position to take a run at the state record in the 100 backstroke with a 55.72, her second-best time of the season.

“When she got done with her backstroke, she knew she had more in it,” Christiansen said. “She came over and knew she had more to drop. She talked with my assistant Kristi (Kunkel), and they both feel like there’s a lot more in the race.”

Southwest’s Heinrich qualified first in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Her 50 free time was 23.67, the best by any swimmer this season and just 0.07 seconds off her personal best time.

“Tomorrow the goal is to try to get under that,” Heinrich said. “I’m hoping to work on my turn a little tomorrow. I was surprised I went faster because my turn was a little off. I just wasn’t at the right distance I like to be at when I flip.”

Even a battle-tested senior like Heinrich still gets butterflies before these big-meet races.

She expects Saturday to be no different.

“I feel more comfortable than I did this morning,” she said. “It’s going to be more nerve-racking right before the event, seeing everyone lined up in the same heat.

“At dual meets, I don’t get nervous, but at conference and state it’s still there. For me it’s that I want our team to win super bad. That’s what the butterflies are for. I don’t want to lose points.”

Both coaches plan to have their swimmers’ mindsets the same as Heinrich’s.

“They just have to get up and race,” Fetter-Witt said. “Tomorrow it’s about racing. Today it’s about being in their own head and doing what they need to do to be successful. Tomorrow it’s just about getting up and racing and getting their hand on the wall.”

Christiansen agreed.

“Saturday’s for racing,” Christiansen said. “Saturday’s for fast swimming. We’ve said it all season: I think we’re set up well. We have quite a few 16th and eighth places. You start creeping up on those. Every single point will matter.”

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Championship qualifiers

200-yard medley relay: 1, Omaha Marian (Maddie Clark, Jocelyn Randby, Isabella Pantano, Amanda Allbery), 1:45.99 (No. 6 all-time). 2, Lincoln Southwest, 1:47.30. 3, Papillion-La Vista/Papillion-La Vista South, 1:48.23. 4, Millard West, 1:49.19. 5, Norfolk, 1:49.42. 6, Lincoln Pius X, 1:49.78. 7, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 1:49.93. 8, Lincoln Southeast, 1:50.60.

200 freestyle: 1, Allie Hathaway, LSE, 1:54.56. 2, Marusha Ather, Lincoln East, 1:55.42. 3, Katie Stonehocker, LPX, 1:55.77. 4, Lauren Mayo, 1:57.02. 5, Abbie Kellen, Marian, 1:58.02. 6, Lanyon Mlinek, LSW, 1:58.05. 7, Bella Schinco, Marian, 1:58.05. 8, Diana Brailita, Hastings, 1:58.26.

200 individual medley: 1, Berkeley Livingston, LSW, 2:03.76 (No. 6 all-time). 2, Sydney Cole, E/ES, 2:07.61. 3, Abigail Mitchell, LPX, 2:08.21. 4, Elizabeth Richardson, Omaha Burke, 2:08.25. 5, Marti Walstad, LSW, 2:08.91. 6, Paige Hunt, E/ES, 2:08.95. 7, Olivia Dendinger, PLV/PLVS, 2:09.20. 8, Payton Hall, MW, 2:10.35.

50 freestyle: 1, Anna Heinrich, LSW, 23.67. 2, Randby, 24.17. 3, Logan Kuehne, Westside, 24.26. 4, Morgan Baker, Hastings, 24.48. 5, Reanna Reida, LSW, 24.50. 6, Jillian Altmaier, LE, 24.67. 7, Mikwena Lierman, 24.74. 8, Christina Spomer, Omaha Central, 24.79.

100 butterfly: 1, Annika Harthoorn, Norfolk, 57.29. 2, Hannah Hailu, Millard North, 57.44. 3, Pantano, 57.54. 4, Ather, 57.64. 5, Holly Olson, PLV/PLVS, 58.44. 6, Sydney Hall, MW, 59.58. 7, Rylee Trojan, Marian, 59.79. 8, Reagan Yelick, E/ES, 59.80.

100 freestyle: 1, Heinrich, 52.23. 2, Walstad, 52.79. 3, Morgan Baker, Hastings, 53.65. 4, Malia Snow, 53.69. 5, Reida, 53.75. 6, Lauren Mayo, E/ES, 54.19. 7, Logan Kuehne, Westside, 54.35. 8, Brailita, 54.36.

500 freestyle: 1, Livingston, 4:58.21. 2, Payton Kollmorgen, LE, 5:09.65. 3, Taylor Rossman, Norfolk, 5:10.44. 4, Cole, 5:11.90. 5, Isabella Morales, LSW, 5:12.41. 6, Olivia Teil, LPX, 5:14.52. 7, Bayles, 5:15.15. 8, Trojan, 5:17.65.

200 freestyle relay: 1, Lincoln Southwest (Moales, Reida, Livingston, Heinrich), 1:37.65. 2, Omaha Marian, 1:38.70. 3, Papillion-La Vista/PLV South, 1:39.62. 4, Omaha Central, 1:40.36. 5, Lincoln East, 1:40.40. 6, Norfolk, 1:40.73. 7, Omaha Westside, 1:40.96. 8, Lincoln Pius X, 1:41.18.

100 backstroke: 1, Pantano, 55.72. 2, Richardson, 56.41. 3, Hathaway, 57.02. 4, Walz, 57.41. 5, Horthoorn, 57.45. 6, Payton Hall, 57.46. 7, Hailu, 58.03. 8, Clark, 58.27.

100 breaststroke: 1, Stonehocker, 1:02.56. 2, Randby, 1:04.21. 3, Dendinger, 1:04.29. 4, Abigail Mitchell, LPX, 1:05.81. 5, Hunt, 1:06.28. 6, Joslyn Jacobs, Norfolk, 1:06.47. 7, Lauren Gifford, Fremont, 1:06.94. , Alison DeSordi, Westside, 1:07.14.

400 freestyle relay: 1, Lincoln Southwest (Livingston, Walstad, Lanyon Mlinek, Hathaway), 3:33.14. 2, Lincoln East, 3:37.67. 3, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 3:37.76. 4, Omaha Marian, 3:37.90. 5, Millard West, 3:41.12. 6, Millard North, 3:41.59. 7, Omaha Westside, 3:41.68. 8, Papillion-La Vista/PLV South, 3:42.76.

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