MHS senior divers playing pivotal role

It’s still early to speculate with a month before the state meet, but the Minot High School girls swimming and diving team may be in a furious competition with West Fargo for the title.

MHS may gain an edge in the rivalry with the Packers because of a friendly rivalry between two of the Majettes’ top divers.

Emmalee Stach and Maddie Bickel are the most consistent performers in a rotation of five Majettes who have already qualified for the championship meet. Only three West Fargo divers have qualified and longtime MHS diving coach Barb McPeak believes her team has a serious shot of putting four competitors in the scoring round when the field is trimmed from more than 40 to just 16.

“Any one of my senior divers that are qualified could do well,” McPeak said. “And any one of those could be on top for the day. They’re all very, very close and talented. They’ve been working really hard this year and that’s what’s really nice for us.”

Stach, Bickel, Paige Melby and Hannah Marquardt received a warm Senior Night send-off on Tuesday at Magic City Campus. MHS won both duals, beating Williston 129-57 and topping Bismarck High 131-47.

Melby joined as a sophomore and the other three as freshmen. Stach, Bickel and Melby have qualified with strong scores at 11-dive meets.

“Our sophomore year and junior year, we were the older kids, so people were looking up to us,” Bickel said. “It’s cool now that we’ve gotten so much better from freshman year that we are now depended on (for) points and we help win. And that’s really cool, contributing to the team.”

Stach led the Majettes on Tuesday with a six-dive score of 197.20 for second overall between the three teams. BHS senior Jenny Nelson was first at 219.20. Diving scores are determined by a formula that takes into consideration the degree of difficulty for each dive and the scores of three judges.

Divers qualify at 11-dive meets and use the six-dive events as opportunities to perfect dives and experiment with new ones.

“I think Emmalee has a lot of bigger dives with the bigger difficulties and she’s just working to try to clean those up a little bit,” McPeak said, “and they kind of came together a little bit better for her today, which is nice to see because those are the ones that usually cause her the most trouble.”

McPeak said Stach typically has the higher degree of difficulty, but it’s Bickel’s consistency on slightly less demanding dives that makes them such a dangerous duo. In the most recent listing of qualifiers released by the North Dakota High School Activities Association, Stach was listed 13th overall with a top score of 201. Bickel was 14th with a 197.5.

“Maddie has actually been on top of Emmalee quite a bit this year,” said McPeak, who began coaching the MHS boys in 1993. “It’s been going back-and-forth and back-and-forth. Maddie has just really done something with her approach where she’s just really getting good height and she just looks so much prettier this year. She looks more graceful than she ever has before.”

Bickel was third on the team and fifth overall Tuesday with 175, 5.95 points behind fourth-place Melby.

“We’ve been working hard for state this year,” Stach said. “We all have our strengths and we’re all working together to get a win at state, hopefully.”

In swimming, the Majettes won six events, including three relays, against the Demons and Coyotes. MHS winners included: junior Sydney Clark in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 21.5 seconds), sophomore Emily Hamel in the 50 freestyle (25.41), junior McKenna Brown in the 500 freestyle (5:29.34) and junior Francesca Walker-Rozo in the 100 butterfly (1:00.67).

Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.