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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Right in Their Backyard

Sisters Allison and Erica Ellstrom are members of the
Minnesota State women's swimming & diving team
The list of siblings who have competed for Minnesota State is a rather lengthy one.

The women’s basketball-playing Andrews and Walters sisters. Bryant and Bennett Black played golf together for the Mavericks. The Dusosky’s and Enlgehart’s (women’s soccer), Lepel’s (baseball), Erickson’s (softball) and the Essel’s, Carroll’s, Follmer’s and Jutting’s (men’s hockey). The Kelly family had Tim, Marty and Pat, all who played football for coach Dan Runkle. Kathy (vollleyball) and Nancy (volleyball and softball) are also part of the Kelly family-Maverick connection.

There are others.

Allison and Erica Ellstrom didn’t have to travel too far when finding a school that was right for them to compete at. Hailing from Mankato East High School, their roots stayed here in Mankato.

A senior at Minnesota State and a four-year letterwinner with the Mavericks, Allison was named an NSISC Scholar Athlete as a junior. Erica, who like her older sister, competes in the freestyle events for Minnesota State, is in her first season of swimming collegiately. Both of the Ellstrom sisters were team captains at East High School and both were team MVPs as prep athletes with the Cougars.

“Allison is a very hard worker. She is very passionate about what she does and is always looking to get better. She has also exceeded the coach’s expectations and is having her best season yet,” said assistant swimming coach Sophie Kaeter when asked about the role the two Ellstroms play on the team. “As for Erica, she is competing in some tough events and always has a great attitude.”

Both Erica and Allison came to Minnesota State after not knowing what they wanted to study in college. They wanted to swim after high school and so they looked for colleges to attend. Both girls toured the school and found their niche here in Mankato.

“It is nice to have somebody on the sidelines cheering you on when you swim," said Allison. "She (Erica) knows what’s good and bad when I compete.” Erica also enjoys having someone to cheer for her and be supportive of her when she swims.

Not only are the Ellstrom sisters well-liked and compete on a team that is ranked 22nd in the CSCAA national poll, but they have also been swimming with many new and young faces.

“Practically a third of all swimmers and divers on the team are new faces,” said Nathan Owens, who is in his 12th year as head coach of the Mavericks.  “We have a big and fun freshman class on the team. They bring lots of new energy and talent and strive to improve and get better each day.”  The younger Mavericks have greatly stepped up and played a huge role on the team, including Erica.

The Maverick swim and dive team competes in the New South Conference. Owens takes his squad to Cleveland, Miss., this year for the NSISC Championships, which takes place Feb. 17 through Feb. 20 with the goal to be in the top three or four team in the meet. Ultimately, the primary objective is to qualify as many swimmers, relay teams, and divers as possible for the NCAA Championships.

“My goals for the postseason and the NSISC Championships are to make it back to the finals, where the top 24 swimmers and divers make it back," said Erica. "I would also like to drop my time a lot at the NSISC Championships.”

While Erica’s time of being a student-athlete at Minnesota State has just begun, the time is coming to an end for Allison’s swimming career as a Maverick. “My goals for the post season are to not have any regrets,” said the four-year veteran. “I am going to miss the girls and the team, but not so much practice.” 


      contributed by Shelbie Werden, Athletic Communications intern

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