Jacob friede/lakeland times
Jacob friede/lakeland times
Lakeland Union High School hosted the Great Northern Conference girls’ swim meet on Friday night and they took full advantage of swimming in their home pool.

Putting on quite a show for a raucous home crowd, the Thunderbirds, who entered the meet in fifth place, swam their way to a third place conference finish.

“We swam really much better than I expected,” said head coach Chris Garcia.  “The momentum just started.  We had some really great swims right off the bat and I think that just got everyone going and once your on that roll it just carried through the whole meet.”

The Thunderbirds’ performance featured a few top three swims by underclassmen, plus a near record-setting relay effort.

The star for Lakeland was sophomore Mariah Angove who was the lone Thunderbird to grace the first place podium, as her 56:72 time in the 100 yard freestyle gave her the conference title.

“She’s one of our hardest working swimmers and so she deserves all the credit she’s gotten,” said head coach Garcia.”  “She’s a pretty good 50 freestyler but I do think that the 100 and the 100 back are definitely her strong points and then she’s just a huge help on the relays.”

Her encore was a third place finish in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 1:02.41 and the relay team she helped was the 200 yard freestyle team, along with Naomi Hamerla, Amanda Kosmen, and Rylee Ahlborn, who were 0.08 seconds off an LUHS school record with a time of 1:43.22.  They finished exactly one second behind Tomahawk who would take the title.

“I was definitely not expecting that,” said Garcia, who is happy that the record could be in jeopardy for some time to come.  “The good thing is, none of them are seniors so they’ll all be back next season.”

That same young Lakeland quartet would also swim to second place in the conference in the 400 yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:51.05.

Ahlborn herself would add a couple more conference runner-up finishes in both the 50 and 200 yard freestyle, with times of 25.67 and 2:05.46 respectively.  

In the 50 yard freestyle she raced to the wire and was only 0.05 behind conference champion Brooke Lechleitner of Trident.  And her finish in the 200 crushed her seed time by almost four seconds.

Also racing to a top three individual finish was Naomi Hamerla who took third in the 100 yard butterfly.  Her 1:04.42 was less than a second behind runner-up Megan Marcks of Tomahawk.  Hamerla also placed sixth in conference in the 50 yard freestyle

Other Thunderbirds that had notable individual performances were Amanda Kosmen and Megan Ross. 

Ross finished fourth in the 100 yard butterfly with a time of 1:05.63.  And her 1:05.77 in the 100 yard backstroke was good for a sixth place conference finish.

Kosmen finished fourth in the 200 yard freestyle with a time of 2:09.81 which buried her seed time of 2:14.30.  She also took fifth in the daunting 500 yard freestyle with at time of 5:54.05.

Overall Tomahawk won the conference with 285 points, followed by Rhinelander with 241 and Lakeland rounded out the top three with 227 points.

The great showing by her team on Friday has coach Garcia pleased about the momentum established for sectionals, but in particular she’s excited to see how her 200 yard relay team responds to being so close to putting their names on the wall

“Now they’re really gunning for it next week at sectionals.  They really want that relay race.”

The sectional meet is Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pool.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.