Each team had a goal in mind for this dual meet and some unexpected absences that left coaches trying to figure out the puzzle pieces before the dual meet.

“There’s been a bug going around the area that’s kind of similar to influenza,” said East Ridge coach Kathy Madden. “The illness has kept a couple of our swimmers out of the pool, so we had to see how our young swimmers would step up to the challenge.”

East Ridge wasn’t the only one. Park had four of its swimmers out with an illness as well and all four were contributing swimmers to the varsity team.

This meant that the Raptors and the Wolfpack had to depend on their depth and the young swimmers that have been growing throughout the season.

East Ridge had the momentum first with the top two finishes in the 200-yard medley relay and the top three finishes in the 200-yard IM. The Raptors also had Simone Becker finish first in the 50-yard freestyle race and Brynn Miroslavich finish first in the 1-meter diving.

The Raptors took an early lead on Thursday night, but the Wolfpack came charging back towards the end of the meet with the top two finishes in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the top three finishes in both the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard breaststroke.

Those top finishes helped Park make it a tight race, but East Ridge was able to pull out just eight more points to complete the victory. Park had Arachi O’Brien finish first in the 100-yard backstroke and Else Bergersen finish first in the 100-breaststroke, while veteran swimmer Tiana Cachuela finished first in the 100-yard butterfly and second in the 50-yard freestyle.

“It was great to see these younger swimmers come in and put up some of their best times this season,” said Park head coach Amanda Johnson. “You can see the growth that this team has made from the first dual meet of the season to today.”

Johnson and Madden are both hoping to see even more growth heading into the last month of the regular season before both teams prepare for sections and state meets.

Even though these next few meets are important for the two teams, the coaches are meeting with individual swimmers to go over individual goals and where they need to be to reach those goals. Some of the senior swimmers that have had some experience on the team are looking to place well in sections, so they can earn a spot at state.

“Some of the younger swimmers, we’re trying to test them in sprints and longer distances, so they can understand both,” Johnson said. “The older swimmers are figuring out times from the rest of the swimmers in their events, so they have an idea of what time they need to reach.”

East Ridge is preparing for the Maroon and Gold meet this upcoming weekend as many teams head over to the University of Minnesota to swim for a day. The key meet the Raptors are focused on is the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Swimming and Diving True Team Sectionals.

Those sectionals will take place at East Ridge High School on Saturday, Oct. 6 and the team that earns first place will be automatically placed into the state meet later on in the season.

The Raptors won it last season and hope to repeat it again this upcoming season.

“It’s a fun meet because they allow many of your swimmers to compete in many different events,” Madden said. “We are preparing for that meet and hopefully we can get back to state again this season.”

The one thing both Park and East Ridge have is depth. Johnson was happy to see the amount of girls that stepped up to fill the holes from the sick swimmers and the same feeling for Madden with the East Ridge swimmers.

“We hope to see the girls work harder this upcoming month than before because they understand the circumstances,” Johnson said. “It’ll be fun to see how this team forms throughout this last month of the regular season.”