Jared Schmeltzer
Reporter

In the Bluejays opening meet of their Wisconsin Valley Conference dual meet season, the Jays would dominate the Warriors of Wausau West taking first place in each of the 11 events and winning the meet by a score of 106-58. Wausau West nearly outnumbers Merrill’s swim team two to one, however the Jays were able to lean on four swimmers to combine for eight first place finishes to take home the win.
Trinity Kanitz got Merrill going in the right direction, taking first place in the 200-yard freestyle with a swim of 2:06.82. Trinity later took first place in the 100-yard freestyle, swimming a time of 58.59. Evelyn Blennert would continue to assert herself as one of the best swimmers on the team, taking first place in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:17.95, topping the second place finisher by over 20 seconds. Blennert then placed first in the 100-yard butterfly swimming a time of 1:03.63. Amber Winter took first place in the Amber Winter 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke swimming times of 26.45 (50-yard free) and 1:13.99 (100-yard breast). Erin Kanitz rounded out solo winners, taking first place in the 100-yard backstroke with a swim of 1:09.46, as well as taking gold in the 500-yard freestyle, with a time of 5:46.28.
Merrill’s 200-yard medley relay team consisting of Winter, Blennert, Erin Kanitz and Laney Zuelsdorff took first place with a combined time of 2:03.48. In the 400-yard freestyle relay-also swam by both Kanitz girls- Blennert and Aliyah Pillai destroyed the competition, swimming a time of 4:05.65, for a 23 second
victory. Winter and Trinity Kanitz then teamed up with Emma Pajtash and Alissa Kracht to take first place in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:54.47.
“We are crossing into the mid section of our season now,” said Merrill head coach Kristie Winter. “The meets get tougher and the girls will have to dig deep to race their best. The team has been working hard for 6 weeks already, they are tired and the meet schedule does not allow for rest any time soon. The next few weeks will really challenge their stamina.”
Next up for the Jays will be a trip to Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. According to coach Winter, Rapids has an even larger team than Wausau, however that may not be such a bad thing.
“Rapids boasts over 45 swimmers. That’s three times as many as we have this season, which will test our small team. On a bright note there should be more time between events and give our girls a little more recovery time then they are used in to the fast meets like tonight that only took 58 minutes. Four races in a hour definitely challenges some of the newer team members they are just not used to that quick of a turn around between events and with only 14 swimmers they are often challenged to swim back to back events.”

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