Optimistic outlook for FD girls swim squad

Rosie Ellendson feels her Fort Dodge girls swim team is capable of making an even bigger splash this season.

After showing gradual progress a year ago, the Dodgers return several familiar names to their lineup.

Seniors Alyssa Nehring, Allison Boswell, Jennifer Bentz, Shay Saathoff and Lauren Underwood, juniors Rebecca Steig, Mary O’Connell, and Elli Russell and sophomores Rachel Rethwisch and Ashley Graham will be counted on by Ellendson and FDSH.

“With 21 girls out this year, I’m excited about our potential,” said Ellendson, who is entering her second season at the helm. “We have a great group of freshmen, and our senior class brings a lot of leadership to our team.

“Elli’s 50 freestyle time was right where it needed to be at the (preseason) scrimmage. Lauren has been working really hard on her breaststroke, and Ashley had a personal best in the 200 freestyle at our scrimmage as well.”

Freshmen Lehr Thorson, Gretta Leigh and Caitlyn Goebel have each also displayed promise in various events during the preseason. In addition, the Dodgers will be represented by a pair of divers in junior RyAnn Dawson and senior Amanda Schaffer.

“Our expectations as a team are to continue to get better every meet,” Ellendson said. “We want to cut our times down, win more dual meets and get as many events to state as possible.”

Girls from Fort Dodge, St. Edmond, Humboldt and Webster City will once again comprise Fort Dodge’s roster.

“One thing I always feel is unique is we have four different programs come together as one,” said Ellendson. “Another strong point of our team is all of our girls get along so well.”

Last fall, the Dodgers were unable to advance any qualifiers to state. Gone from a year ago are Angie Ellendson, Nicole Cook, Katy Bocken, Katie Donnelly and Zoey Miller.

Ellendson views three-time defending state champion Ames as the clear favorite in the conference race. The Little Cyclones, who are looking to become only the fourth program in Iowa history to win four consecutive state titles, bring back eight state qualifiers from a year ago, including individual gold medalists Sara Bentley (100 backstroke) and Maggie James (one-meter diving).

Assisting Ellendson once again will be Shawn Russell and Christie Gruber.

Fort Dodge hosts its own invitational on Sept. 19.