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Lumberjacks dunked, but ahead of pace

Despite having to open the season against the defending section champions, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls swim team is pointed in a positive direction.

Last Thursday saw the Lumberjacks host Grand Rapids in a dual meet the Thunderhawks won 110-70.

CEC head coach Rachel Peterson said the team added 13 new athletes.

"It is always tough when you open against Grand Rapids, but overall our girls are doing well," she said. "The returners are swimming almost as fast as they were at the end of last season, which is a good thing, and the newcomers are improving so fast that it is fun to watch."

CEC finished 1-2 in the 200-yard individual medley with Julia Peterson taking first in 2 minutes, 33.46 seconds, and teammate Rylee Demers taking second in 2:41.10.

"I'm impressed with both Julia and Rylee," Peterson said. "Julia beat her personal best in the first race of the year, and Rylee hasn't swum in the 200 IM in a long time, so she was impressive in her time."

Megan Chopskie of CEC is also looking to make her mark as a sprinter in the program. Chopskie took first in the 50 freestyle, then followed with a second in the 100 backstroke.

"She has the potential and the work ethic to be one of this program's best swimmers," Peterson said. "She is trying to chase down some awfully tough records in the sprint events. If she stays focused, she has a chance to pull that off."

CEC went 1-2 in the diving with Jessica Pagelkopf finishing first and Rilee Durovec adding a second-place finish.

"All three of our divers are making good improvement," said Peterson. "They are nailing their dives and their first meet scores were really good.

The CEC 200 medley relay team of Jolie Urie, Allison Ringat, Kloey Jensen and Maiya Jakubek finished third in a time of 2:51.64.

Hannah Sandman added a pair of second-place individual finishes in both the 100 and 200 freestyle races.

"Hannah is swimming well and is improving quickly," said Peterson. "She put up an amazing time in the 200."

Emma Peterson nabbed a second in the 500 freestyle. The CEC team of Sandman, Demers, Emma Peterson and Chopski also took second in the 200 free relay.

The CEC 400 free relay team of Emma Peterson, Demers, Sandman and Chopski took second, finishing a half-second behind the top team from Grand Rapids.

"Overall, the girls are swimming faster than I expected," Peterson said. "I think straight up that all of that is a result of how hard they are practicing."

More important than fast times and winning races is the fact that the team, in the eyes of their coach, is a true team.

"These kids are just a great group," said Peterson. "We get compliments all the time on their sportsmanship, their support of their teammates and just how they represent the team and school. They are just an awesome group that are an amazing representation of our school and they are a lot of fun to watch."