Kenzie Carlson knows there isn't much room for error in the 50-yard freestyle swimming event.
For example, the Jamestown High School junior placed third in the event during last weekend's West Region meet, falling to Bismarck Century's Paige Keller by a mere 0.19 seconds for second. Keller holds the 10th quickest time in the event, but 15 others are all roughly within five-tenths of her season best.
"If you mess up on even a foot turn or something it'll cost half a second and you're down 5-10 places," Carlson said.
Added Blue Jay coach Ben Smith: "It's a sprinting event so you have to go right away. One mistake can cost you a race, so we're working on having a perfect race and technique."
A total of 11 Blue Jays, including Carlson, will be heading to the girls state swimming and diving meet today and Saturday at the Hulbert Aquatic Center in West Fargo. All competitors will compete on day 1, while the top 16 in each event advancing to the second day.
"We're looking to improve our times," Smith said. "We want to focus on what we can control and not worry about what the other girls do."
Carlson is currently ranked 10th in the 50 freestyle, while helping lead the 200 free and medley relay events to top 10 rankings. She will be competing in the 50 and 100 freestyle, along with the pair of relay events at state.
"I'm expecting everyone to give it their all, hopefully top eight, that'd be great," Carlson said of the relays. "We're a pretty small state team compared to what others are so if we can get to that eighth spot it would be great."
Added Smith: "She had a great WDA meet after getting a new personal best in two of her races. We're looking for a solid performance from her.
Sophomore Jordyn Mewes, Tyler Alonge and Chea Baugh will be joining Carlson on both relays.
Mewes will also race in the 200 freestyle, ranked 11th in 2:03.63. The 500 freestyle will be the fourth and final event Mewes will race in.
"She's really excited about those," Smith said of Mewes. "She had some good time drops in those races so that'll set her up really well for state."
Five competitors will be making their first appearance at state including senior diver Catlyn Raap, sophomore Catherine Deaver, and eighth graders Chea Baugh, Alexes Prasek and Anabelle Cramer.
"This will set a little fire for them. Some girls are goal-setting for next year, so that's pretty exciting," Smith said. "It's a great future for our program."
Added Carlson: "They just have to remember to not get too excited about it. I went in looking for way too much (last season) and so I psyched myself out and did pretty poorly."
Jamestown will look to improve on its 16th-place state team finish in 2017. Senior diver Nadia Netolicky is the only returning scorer from 2017-18.