Echo Waves: Packer State Qualifiers Have Ties To Past Greats – Austin Daily Herald

Echo Waves: Packer State playoffs have ties to past greats

Posted 6:59 p.m. on Monday, November 14, 2022

The Packer swim and dive team has a lot of tradition and a lot of excitement on their side as they prepare to compete in the Minnesota Class A swim and dive competition at the University of Minnesota this week.

Austin senior Olivia Walsh has a new school record and will compete in her fourth straight state meet after going state in swimming, basketball and track and field last year, a young relay team is on about to begin his rise in the sport and a pair of divers who have relied on each other all year are ready to compete together on the big stage for the first time.

Walsh will represent the Packers in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay. The senior has already broken the 100m freestyle record, which was set by Stacy Bjorle in 2002 and she also has her sights set on the 50m freestyle record.

“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been close so many times and it was nice to finally see it happen,” Walsh said. Adrenaline from Friday’s final helped push me to the limits.”

As Walsh winds down her swimming career, her 200-yard freestyle relay teammates are just getting started. Gracie Greenman and Abbie Boysen are eighth graders and Alivia Hemry is a freshman. Walsh is happy to have them with him for the ride.

“Being alone on the bridge is no fun, so I’ll be happy to have company,” Walsh said. “Seeing the potential of this team is really exciting.”

It’s the first time the Packers have sent a relay team to the state since 2014.

Greenman is the younger sister of former AHS swimmer Lindsay Lukes, who set the school’s 200 individual medley record in 2005 and Hemry’s mother, Amanda (Martin) Hemry, swam with Lukes in the team record 200-yard freestyle relay in 2002.

“At the start of the season, if someone had told me I would be swimming at the state, I wouldn’t have believed them for a moment,” Hemry said. “I’ve wanted to chase after my mum’s (relay) record for so long and we’re getting closer and closer.”

Greenman also swims in the 500-yard freestyle at the state and she got some advice from her older sister ahead of her first appearance in the state.

“My sister is up there and I chased after a lot of her times,” Greenman said. “She texted me after I did it and she said I was getting better and she told me what to work on.”

Boysen is a little giddy to be competing at State, but she earned it by showing up every day and working hard with her highly motivated teammates.

“My friends, teammates and parents have all been really supportive,” Boysen said.

Austin’s two sophomore divers have grown closer this season and the past few weeks have brought them even closer. Alayna Kennedy was injured a few weeks ago and she was also bedridden with illness prior to the Section 1A meeting. She was able to drop by and get to her first state meet through a quick chat with Reese Norton, the other state qualifying diver.

“We had three dives left and I said Reese, let’s just focus on our last three dives. She said ‘let’s go do the state together’ and that got me excited,” Kennedy said. “My training sessions the previous weekend were quite difficult, but (last) Monday I was ready to go.”

Norton competed in the national gymnastics competition last season, but this is her first time competing in diving. She received guidance from her older brother Riley, who was four times state qualified in diving.

“The nerves are always there for me in competitions,” Reese said. “I talked to Riley about it and he told me not to focus on it being the sectional meet and just get my dives.”

Class A diving preliminaries will be at noon Wednesday, swimming preliminaries will be at noon Thursday and Class A finals will be at noon Saturday. All events are held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

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