After seeing the tail end of the winter sports season and the entire spring sports season wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, sports have returned for Austin High School with girls’ tennis and girls’ swimming and diving both kicking off their respective seasons Thursday.

The Packer girls’ tennis team opened the 2020 campaign in Red Wing Thursday against the Wingers in a Big 9 Conference match, and it was Austin winning matches at third and four singles, plus sweeping the doubles matches on their way to a 5-2 win.

Gracie Schmitt was victorious for the Packers at third singles, as she downed Alli Roe from Red Wing in straight sets 6-1, 6-0, and Kaitlin Meiergerd was also a winner for Austin in straight sets at four singles as she defeated Ella Bettich of the Wingers 7-5, 6-1.  The Packers then swept the doubles matches, starting with Madison Hogan and Lauren Wernimont at first doubles winning over Anja Roth and Ani Blankenship of Red Wing 6-3, 6-2.  Siri Ansorge and Samatha Krueger of Austin fell in the first set of their second doubles match against Emma Roe and Jenna Siewert of the Wingers 7-5, but they were able to rally to take the next two sets for the win, 7-6 (3) and 10-8.  At third doubles, Natalie Haynes and Jadyn Moriarty of the Packers were also victorious in three sets as they downed Allie Meyer and Nora Meyer of Red Wing 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

In swimming and diving action from Bud Higgins Pool, Austin played host to Mankato East in a Big 9 Conference matchup and fell to the visiting Cougars 92-87.

MSHSL COVID-19 protocol meant that social distancing was observed during the meet with only competitors allowed on the pool floor, and any swimmer or diver that was not competing being seated in the stands.

Austin’s 200 medley relay team of Madelyn Murley, Molly Sheehan, Molly Garry and Olivia Walsh were first with a time of 2:00.19, and in the 200 freestyle, Sydney Tobak took third for the Packers with a time of 2:26.76.  Sheehan was second for Austin in the 200 individual medley, as she finished with a time of 2:33.375 and Walsh was second in the 50 freestyle with a final time of 26.14.  The Packers swept the top three spots in diving as Reese Norton took first with a score of 234.12, Rachel Engelstad second with a final tally of 221.64 and Ali Portz third with a score of 209.61.

Olivia Walsh was second in the 100 freestyle for Austin with a time of 58.90, and Molly Garry was third in the 500 freestyle, finishing with a time of 6:07.41.  The Packers’ 200 freestyle relay team of Molly Sheehan, Madelyn Murley, Ingrid Dolan Peterson and Olivia Walsh were second with a time of 1:51.81, Murley took third in the 100 backstroke with a final time of 1:11.98 and Sheehan was second in the 100 breaststroke with a finish of 1:16.47.

Austin’s 400 freestyle relay team of Molly Garry, Lucy Lagervall, Mackenzie Carter and Madelyn Murley were second with a time of 4:18.86.