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Lumberjacks oust Proctor-Hermantown with depth

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls swim team rode strong performances from some of its youngest swimmers to a 65-39 dual meet win over Proctor-Hermantown on Tuesday night in Cloquet.

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CEC eighth-grader Kashmir Mercer practices a turn during warm-ups at the Spartan Relays in Superior Saturday afternoon as seen through a pool window. Coach Kayla Cresap said Mercer has made great strides learning the breaststroke and could be challenging older swimmers later this season. Jed Carlson/Forum News Service

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls swim team rode strong performances from some of its youngest swimmers to a 65-39 dual meet win over Proctor-Hermantown on Tuesday night in Cloquet.

“It was our first home meet,” coach Kayla Cresap said. “It was crazy for some of the younger girls but we got through it.”

Some of the younger swimmers did more than just “get through it,” though. Numerous personal bests and records were set, even by swimmers who didn’t qualify for varsity races.

“The girls were amazing, especially the younger ones,” Cresap said. “We have had lots of girls setting personal records - they were killing it tonight.”

In home matches, each team gets two scoring lanes in each race, since the pool has only five lanes. The fifth lane is used for exhibition racers, who don’t count in the varsity score.

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Relay races can mean that as many as seven teams can compete for each team, putting 25-30 swimmers from each team in the pool in races, some of which count on the team score and others which do not.

“It gives a chance for the younger girls to get in the pool and improve,” Cresap said. “It’s good for those kids to test themselves and swim for their own bests. I really push this point to my swimmers, to beat their PRs and goal times. It’s to be expected that the younger girls will improve more because they are learning and getting better every single day in practice.”

One of those improving young swimmers is eighth-grader Kashmir Mercer, who Cresap said has made such strides in learning the breaststroke that she isn’t far from challenging junior Rachel Gorski and senior Mykayla Laurie. “She (Mercer) can have a really good year,” Cresap said, “but there are lots of others surprising me.”

One is junior Marjorie Larsen, who has competed in distance events in past years but has done well in the 50-yard freestyle this season.

“This time of year people can do something different before moving to other events later in the year,” Cresap said. “It’s fun to see what everyone is doing.”

However, the 50-yard freestyle is the domain of sophomore Makayla Suominen, who won both that event and the 100 freestyle on Tuesday.

The defending Section 7A champion broke 25 seconds in the 50 free (24.86 seconds) and 55 seconds in the 100 free (54.94 seconds) for the first time all season on Tuesday night.

“Makayla went into Tuesday with a great attitude,” Cresap said. “She had her best times so far, but not anywhere close to her best. She works so hard at practices and sets such high goals that when she doesn’t reach them she gets down. It won’t be as easy for her this season as it was last season because there isn’t anyone in the area that can really push her. She had a great mind set on Tuesday night, though.”

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Now, as the area’s top swimmer, Suominen needs competition.

“Last year it was all about how fast she could go,” Cresap said, “and this year it’s about times. She was developing into herself last year and this year it’s hard because she doesn’t have that push she would have swimming against other kids as fast as she is. But she is very talented and she will get there.”

The team’s next meet Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Two Harbors.

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