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FALL PREVIEW: Tigers to rely on others to step into roles

Photo courtesy of Photoworks The 2020 Marshall girls swim and dive team includes front row (L to R): Alex Larson, Reagan Brandt, Emma Beavers, Autumn Deutz, Alana Condezo, Elizabeth Coudron and Olivia Williams. Middle row (L to R): Andrea Jones, Alli Kopitski, Hailey Brandt, Kaylie Stucke, Paige Milstead, Clara Bader, Maddie Larson and Grace Rokeh. Back row (L to R): Assistant coach Kat Deutz, Jessica Wyffels, Mary Lanoue, Holland Netzley, Mansi Bell, student manager Kaity Goblish, Tera Johnson, Brooklyn Gossen and head coach Nikki Axe-Bell.

MARSHALL — Last season, the Marshall girls swim and dive team had a pair of swimmers qualify for the state meet in Nyssa Bentz and Amelie Schmidtke. With both gone, Marshall will have to rely on their other experienced leaders heading into the new season under seventh-year head coach Nikki Axe-Bell.

Marshall will be led by seniors Kaylie Stucke and Jessica Wyffels as well as juniors Hailey Brandt, Alli Kopitski and Maddie Larson. Reagan Brandt, Clara Bader and Brooklyn Gossen will also be key contributors in both the swimming and diving components of the meet.

“Kaylie has consistently made podium appearances over her last 5 years with the team. She is strong in all of the freestyle events and on relays. Hailey is returning after a knee injury last season. She is a key player on relays and is able to cover a variety of events including the 200 IM and 100 fly as well as sprint freestyle,” Axe-Bell said. “Having 3 experienced divers that also swim 3 events is crucial to our dual meet success as well: Reagan, Clara, and Brooklyn. Alli and Maddie continue to lead the team in scoring with their ability to cover a variety of races including the 500 free and 100 back, 200 IM, 100 breast and all 3 relays.”

Axe-Bell added some areas of strength for their team going into the season is just their high level of commitment to the sport and overall positivity despite the challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic in their path.

“This group came back fit after facing four months of no pool access. These athletes are committed to swimming, chose to come back to train and compete, knowing this would look a little different in the midst of a global pandemic,” Axe-Bell said. “The athletes have been positive and flexible as we change all aspects of their practices and meets by limiting number of swimmers per lane, masking social distancing, and showing up to practices suited up and leaving in suits as well.”

Axe-Bell said she expects her team to continue to work hard both in the pool and in the classroom throughout the season.

“I expect to see these athletes continue to work towards faster times and successful competitions. I also expect these athletes to continue to excel in their studies and to act with empathy and integrity.”

Marshall’s first meet was postponed on Sept. 3 but began its season against St. Peter on Thursday, where Marshall defeated the Saints 108-78.

Going into the rest of the season, Bell said she’s looking forward to just having a season to compete in and watching her athletes continue to push themselves and improve all year.

“Honestly, when the MSHSL approved that we could have a season, I was thrilled. My athletes share the same sentiment. They say that even though the season is different, they are so happy to have something to do with the team,” Axe-Bell said. “I am looking forward to seeing the athletes achieving best times and pushing themselves in practice and competitions. I am also looking forward to supporting the seniors and juniors as they begin to consider swimming in college and choosing a program that works best for their school/career/athletic interests.”

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