HIBBING — A lot of swimmers have come and gone through the Hibbing High School girls program, but there’s one that stands above the rest — Meghan Minne.
The Bluejacket senior not only is a part of six team records, but she has more state-meet appearances than any other Hibbing swimmer.This season, Minne set team records in the 50 and 100 freestyles, and she also holds the record in the 200 freestyle. She is also a part of the records in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays and the 200 medley relay.
Minne has also earned three all-state honors, one in the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay.
She captured section 7A titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle this season, then placed seventh in the state meet in the 100, and 11th in the 50.
For that reason, Minne has been named the Mesabi Daily News, Hibbing Daily Tribune and Grand Rapids Herald Review Swimmer of the Year.
It all started as a seventh-grader on the junior varsity team, but Minne wasn’t long for that level.
“I loved swimming and when I was in the seventh-grade, I remember watching the varsity practice, and I wanted to be there,” Minne said. “I worked hard that year, so I could get better.
“I was on some relay teams with some of the varsity girls, so that made me want to be on the team even more. I worked hard after that season, and the next year, I was hoping he would say, “I want you on my team.’ He did with two of my other friends, so I was happy.”
It wasn’t a hard decision for Hibbing coach Mike Venziano. Minne had the two characteristics he likes best.
“She’s a talented athlete, and she’s a hard worker,” Veneziano said. “Desire is a bigger indicator as to what is going to happen in a career. If you can couple that deep desire to do something and talent, you have something there.
“It has to be an authentic desire. What separates a lot of people is on the days when things aren’t so glorious, you are still willing to grind out the sheer hard work. That is the key ingredient to Meghan’s success. When things aren’t warm and fuzzy for her, she’s still willing to commit and do the work.”
It was easy for Minne to put in the effort. She had a lot of good role models to look up to like Marin Dougherty, Maya Ziemba, Haylee Pahule, Ashley Hadrava and Brooke Thronson.
Minne cruised through her eighth- and ninth-grade years, then came the first actual adversity of her swimming career during her sophomore season.
“It was difficult,” Minne said. “I had to deal with some things in my life, but swimming was my escape. It helped out a lot with my teammates and that support. It worked out well.
“We all got past some difficult things. It was being a team again. That helped. Taking the effort to do that helped.”
That adversity actually made Minne a better swimmer.
“She persevered and kept going,” Veneziano said. “There’s another formula for success. We all have to face certain adversities at certain times of our lives. What truly is a mark of someone’s success is their ability to get through those rough patches.
“It happens to everybody. Not everything comes up roses and sunshine. Nobody who has been highly successful has never been an overnight success. You just don’t see the struggles. They were grinding it out long before you ever knew who they were.”
Minne also battled a bout of mononucleosis, which contributed to her sophomore slump.
“That’s probably what affected me the most that year,” Minne said. “I was so tired that I didn’t get to work out as much. I struggled. I promised myself after my sophomore year that I was going to work harder than I ever have. Working hard pays off.”
Once that season ended, Minne went right back to work for her junior year.
“I kept training myself, Minne said. “If it wasn’t in the pool, it was on dry land. I’d weight lift. I’d do cardio. I did as much as I could, but I would take breaks in between because I did have a burnout after my ninth-grade year.”
Minne got back on track during her junior season, then this year, she came into camp in the best shape of her life.
“Natalie (Skorich) and I, we both went to the gym together,” Minne said. “We trained every day of the week. We had goals. We’d say, ‘Think of this person that you want to race against. Think about her and keep pushing through these sets.’
“We motivated each other to get what we wanted.”
It showed as Minne reached the pinnacle of her career. She never thought she’d be so successful.
“Had you asked me during my sophomore year that I would be in the top eight (at state) I would have said, ‘No,’” Minne said. “I surprised myself at state when I was top seven. I was shocked.
“I peaked at one point, then it felt like I was going downhill. When you’re downhill and looking up it feels impossible to get back up there again. This year, I was up there, and I didn’t even know it. I shocked myself. I’m still in awe.”
Joining Minne on the all-area team are her teammates Skorich, Geli Stenson and Madison St. George; Elli Jankila, Carly George, Mollie Albrecht and Amara Carey of Eveleth-Gilbert; Lauryn Devich of Virginia; Emma Williams, Siiri Hakala, Kylie Meyer, Lydia Skelton, Hannah Nygaard, Grace Brunfelt and Adrianna Lehmkuhl of Mesabi East; and Addie Albrecht, Alyssa Jackson, Sophia Verke, Emma Hernesman, Rowan Krueger-Barth, Rose Hansen, Elsa Viren, Chloe Peterson and Hannah Rauzi of Grand Rapids.