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Agates 'just click' in state run

From left, Julia McDonald, Marina Schreiner, Allie Mayfield and Kari Haaversen qualified for the state tournament at the Section 7A meet Saturday. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)1 / 4
Kari Haaversen practices a dive during practice Monday. Haaversen qualified for the state tournament in diving and the 400 yard freestyle relay. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)2 / 4
Julia McDonald swims laps in the pool during practice Monday. McDonald qualified for the state tournament in the 400 yard freestyle relay. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)3 / 4
Marina Schreiner dives off a starting block during practice Monday. Schreiner qualified for the state tournament in the 400 yard freestyle relay. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)4 / 4

Two Harbors senior Kari Haaversen took her place on the diving block for the 400 freestyle relay at the Section 7A meet Saturday in Hibbing, she had already qualified for state as a diver, but she still had some unfinished business.

When most of the Two Harbors-Silver Bay swim team is climbing out of the pool after practice, they're thinking about what's for dinner, what they need to get done for school the next day or any of a hundred different things a modern high school student considers on the way home. Haaversen, however, is moving on to diving practice and spends even more of her evening perfecting dives.

Haaversen was the first Two Harbors diver to qualify for state since Chelsea Kolkin made it in 2012, and trailed Duluth Denfeld's Shelby Johnson after eight of 11 dives Saturday. The two were neck in neck all through the final three dives, with Haaversen attempting the reverse somersault to try and pull ahead for a second place finish. The reverse dives can be scary Haaversen said, but she's been attempting it since she was a freshman at Two Harbors.

"I learned to overcome that and it's turned into one of my best dives and one of my favorites," she said. "I was really happy with it, it was one of the best ones I've ever done."

She took second by less than a point, punched her own ticket to state and when she pulled herself out of the pool following her leg of the 400 relay, the Agates were neck and neck for second place with Hibbing.

When Marina Schreiner hit the water in the 400 relay the Agates were maybe a hair behind Hibbing and Mesabi East. Schreiner qualified for the 500 yard freestyle as a freshman and sophomore, but had just missed qualifying in the event last year and earlier in the day. The 400 was her last chance to qualify and she wanted a return trip not just for herself, but with a team that has worked together through her high school career.

"It means a lot to go with my team," Schreiner said. "Going alone was really fun and a good experience, but I wish there were more people there because I got a little lonely. So having my whole relay team go is going to be really fun."

When Schreiner touched the wall after her leg of the relay, it was difficult to tell who was in the second spot, Hibbing or THSB. Mesabi East had started to pull away from the other teams, but there was still a spot at state available for the second place relay team. Hibbing and THSB were also locked in a battle for the Section 7A title, with Hibbing just seven points ahead the much smaller Agate team.

Julia McDonald hit the water third, just hoping to stay with the Blue Jackets through her leg of the race. One might forgive McDonald if her focus had begun to shift, with the Two Harbors basketball team waiting for her senior leadership and presence in the post as the go-go Agates' and a high octane offense pursue a section title of their own.

She is a member of another team, however, on this day. She looked over and saw that she was passing Hibbing in a neighboring lane. Or was it?

"Even if it's not, I'm just going to go for it," McDonald thought.

She kept swimming, finished her leg and when she pulled herself out of the water it was Two Harbors now in second with Hibbing trying to make up time on the final leg against one of the strongest freestyle swimmers in the section, Allie Mayfield.

Allie Mayfield. The anchor, one of Two Harbors most decorated swimmers in recent memory. She had already punched her individual ticket to the state meet with second place finishes in both the 500 yard freestyle and the 200 yard individual medley. She had also missed adding a third section title in the IM to her titles in the 500 freestyle by just 17 hundredths of a second. Even more impressive, this is the first year she competed in the IM.

"She was just looking for a change," coach Heather Mayfield said. "Her senior year, she just wanted to go out and have fun."

The senior spent her summer shuttling between North Shore Swim Club in Duluth and the weight room supplementing her swimming regimen and increasing her core strength.

"It was all just in preparation for this meet and going to state," Allie Mayfield said. "Everything that I've ever worked for was going to state."

Allie Mayfield dove in for the final leg of the relay as nervous as she'd ever been. She knew that she had a small lead thanks to McDonald and all that stood in her way between the first THSB relay team to reach state since she was in diapers was two laps. 100 yards.

"I jumped in that water and I gave it all I've got," she said. "I knew I was in a perfect opportunity to get us to state and I just wanted to do that more than anything."

Allie Mayfield touched the wall, a full second before Hibbing, qualifying them for state and a deafening cheer coming up from the Two Harbors faithful at the pool that day. Heather Mayfield said all the coaches from the other teams at the meet congratulated her and even Grand Rapids coach Jerry Casey congratulated her after tracking the meet online.

The second place finish didn't quite push them over the hump to take the section title from Hibbing, but the 400 relay team was going to state. For the first time since the 90s, a relay team from Two Harbors was going to the state meet in Minneapolis.

"I think that's what's been our goal since I started coach," Heather Mayfield said. "They've been fighting since 2010 and they're always so close. That was the most incredible moment of my coaching experience, to finally get that relay to state."

Four seniors, working together and seizing the moment in their final opportunity to go to Minneapolis as a team. Mayfield said the fact they are all seniors makes this trip to state even more special.

"They know each other well and it just clicked," Heather Mayfield said. "All year, if I switched it up and put somebody else in there it just didn't seem like it meshed quite perfectly. These four girls just clicked and it worked."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Silver Bay City Council and high school sports in Lake County. 

(218) 834-2141
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