On Saturday, Nov. 22, a group of EPHS girls swimmers and divers left the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. That exit marked the final moments of the 2021 EPHS fall sports season.
The last few days of the season were busy for those involved with EP sports. There was the state football semifinal and the girls’ swim and dive state meet.
The dust has since settled on these crazy few days. Here’s a look at how things went.
Whether it was a fumble recovery on a muffed punt against Lakeville North or an interception early in the game against Farmington, the EP football team’s run to the Class 6A state semifinal had been defined by turnovers heading into the semifinal against Maple Grove.
Once again, that was the story. But for the Eagles, not in a good way. After making some big plays early, EP got behind and couldn’t recover in the second quarter. That led to the Eagles falling to Maple Grove 35-3 on Nov. 18 at U.S. Bank Stadium, ending EP’s season.
Things looked good for the Eagle defense early when they forced a Crimson interception on the game’s first drive. EP did not get any points out of that drive. But when the Eagles recovered a Maple Grove fumble later in the quarter, EP capitalized with a 32-yard field goal from Cole Nelson.
Once the second quarter started, things started to turn toward the Crimson. They rattled off 21 unanswered points. Maple Grove’s second touchdown, a 77-yard run from Derrick Jameson, was started due to an interception thrown by EP at the Crimson goal-line.
Minutes later, Maple Grove was back in the end zone after a bobbled Eagle snap gave the Crimson the ball and a free run into the end zone to make it 21-3 heading into halftime.
The comeback effort in the second half started poorly for EP as Maple Grove forced another fumble and scored. The Crimson led 28-3 just minutes into the third quarter.
From there, Maple Grove’s defense stymied the Eagles’ offense as they had just 181 total yards of offense, averaging just 3.2 yards per play compared to the Crimson’s 6.1 yards per play.
Eventually, Maple Grove ran things out to close out a 35-3 defeat of EP. That loss sent the Eagles home one game short of the upcoming Prep Bowl. EP finishes the season 10-2.
Girls’ swim and dive
Looking at the list of EP girls swimmers and divers who made it to this year’s state meet, there was plenty of Eagle representation there.
That was no more personified by the presence of Caroline Larsen. The standout sophomore swimmer made her presence known at the state level this past weekend. She finished the meet with two state championships, capping off a special season for her and her team.
Larsen’s season was off to a special start from the first meet of the season, breaking a school record in the 100-yard freestyle.
The team itself also had success despite tough competition in their section and within the Lake Conference.
Going up against perennial powers Edina and Minnetonka in True Team sections, the Eagles finished third and did not qualify.
That led all the team’s focus to the section meet. EP did finish fourth as a team and did qualify a dozen swimmers to the state meet.
After the preliminary swims on Nov. 19, five EP swimmers remained alive in four different events—the 200-yard medley relay, the 50-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 100-yard breaststroke—in the hunt for a state championship. Five other swimmers competed in the consolation event.
In the first event, the Eagle relay team of Larsen, Kessel Cripe, Grace Logue and Greta Dunn finished third in the 200 medley to get EP on the podium.
The next race, the 50 free, was Larsen’s first shot of the night at an individual state title. The standout sophomore did just that, winning the race with a time of 22.66, good enough to earn All-American status.
EP’s second relay team of the night, which featured Larsen, Dunn, Logue and Eliana Auberbach, finished three in the 200 free, giving the Eagles another podium finish.
The final race of the night for EP once again was Larsen all alone, looking for her second state title on the night. She ended up making it a perfect two-for-two, winning the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.33.
That meet wrapped up the Eagles’ season. With Larsen being just a sophomore, it’s likely we will be hearing from this star swimmer again soon.