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Hailey Rathgeber makes splash with college decision

Senior Hailey Rathgeber commits to Augsburg University for swimming.

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Hailey Rathgeber (bottom right) joined by head coach Jenna Wolf and teammates, including Charley (far left), as she signs her commitment papers. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

Throughout the most recent seasons of Dickinson High girls swimming, the Rathgeber sisters have been known as being two of the team's top swimmers. With the duo continuing to lead the way and showing signs of potentially going to college to compete in swimming many questioned what the future held.

On Tuesday morning, the eldest sister, Hailey, gave her answer by committing to Augsburg University and will become a member of the NCAA Division-III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

After growing up in Dickinson, N.D., Rathegber decided it was time to test other waters and will be part of a university located just outside of downtown Minneapolis.

“I really liked the school and the coach (Lindsay Mikkelson) was awesome so that was really part of it and I really want to be in a big city,” she said after signing her commitment papers with her mother, sister Charley and teammates behind her. “I’m so excited to just have a new experience and have something new.”

A specialist in the freestyle competitions, Rathgeber has been known for becoming one of the top swimmers in the state of North Dakota. Some of her best times include going 25.55 in the 50-yard freestyle, 5:47.30 in the 500-yard freestyle, 54.76 in the 100-yard freestyle, and recently going 2:01.32 in the 200-yard freestyle in November.

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Rathgeber has been known to compete in other events as well. Some of her best non-freestyle times were 1:08.52 in the 100-yard backstroke, 1:23.11 in the 100-yard breaststroke, and 1:07.25 in the 100-yard fly.

Jenna Wolf, the head coach of the Midgets’ girls swim and dive team, praised her elite swimmer on her decision to become an Auggie next fall.

“Hailey has been a very hard worker and she’s really turned into quite the leader these last couple of years and she’s had a lot of determination, she had in her mind that she was going to go to college to go swim beyond just high school swimming,” Wolf said. “I think that pushed her even harder to get that she wanted to get to go on to the next level.”

Wolf then added, “I think she’s going to do very well, I think that she’s a really strong freestyler and she’s good at all of the other strokes too so I hope to see her branch out maybe a little bit there. Just different coaching techniques I think will continue to keep her building her swimming abilities.”

While the early morning signing revolved around Hailey, the older sister still shed some light on her younger sister, Charley, who will be a senior next year and will be viewed as potentially being one of the key leaders for the Midgets.

“I just hope she has a good time here and continues swimming,” Hailey said.

With the signing complete and the goal of getting to compete in college a success, Hailey now sets her goals higher for what she would like to accomplish within her next four years as an Auggie swimmer.

“Improving, just my times and then probably just getting to know my new team and having like a new family feel,” she said. “I would like to make conference in college, that’s one of my goals and again just cut my times.”

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Wolf shared similar goals for Hailey.

“Just to continue to grow and continue to be the leader that she has been,” Wolf said. “She sets a lot of goals for herself and to continue to reach those goals.”

The Auggies have been known for featuring some of the best women’s freestyle competitors within the MIAC and all of NCAA D-III athletics. Rathgeber will be coached by Lindsay Mikkelson, who is about to begin her third season as head coach at Augusburg this winter.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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