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Sam Goebel qualified for the state Class A boys swimming and diving meet in three events at Saturday's Section 3A meet at Morris.

Panthers qualify five swimmers for state meet

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sports Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
Panthers qualify five swimmers for state meet
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Todd Fritze and the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team were determined to improve on last year's Section 3A meet.

Last year, the Panthers finished last in the 13-team meet with 67 points and didn't qualify a swimmer for the state Class A meet for the first time since 1997.


On Saturday at the University of Minnesota-Morris, the Panthers moved up to eighth place with 161 points and qualified five swimmers in four events for the state meet. Fergus Falls won the section title with 415 points.

Freshman Connor Smythe, junior Ryan McBrady, junior Sam Goebel and sophomore Zach Eystad opened Saturday's finals by qualifying for state in the 200-yard individual medley. That relay team finished sixth with a 1:47.17, but topped the cut time of 1:47.20 to earn a state berth. The top four finishers earned automatic state berths.

Goebel followed by earning state berths in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Goebel finished fourth in the 50 freestyle with a 23.35 and took fourth in the 100 freestyle with a 50.19 to top the cut time of 50.89.

Senior Kevin Merfeld earned the Panthers' other state berth by placing third in the 500 freestyle with a 5:18.03.

"The first day went all right. I thought maybe we'd be a little faster, but the guys got in the position they needed," said Fritze, whose team was named the Section 3A academic champs. "The boys were pretty happy with their times. Overall, it was a pretty good meet."

Those five swimmers will compete in the state preliminaries, which begin Friday at noon at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. The finals will be Saturday starting at noon.

Entering the state meet, the 200 medley relay team is seeded 21st out of 21 qualifiers. Goebel is seeded 19th out of 19 swimmers in the 50 freestyle and 17th out of 26 qualifiers in the 100 freestyle. Merfeld is seeded 16th out of 17 qualifiers.

"To get to the second day, you've got to maintain or drop time," said Fritze. "I think we can squeeze a little more out of them."

Panthers get in position

The Panthers put themselves in position to qualify for state with solid performances during Friday's preliminaries.

The 200 medley relay team of Smythe, McBrady, Goebel and Eystad finished seventh with a time of 1:48.81.

After Jake Waggoner finished 25th in the 200 freestyle with a 2:05.73, McBrady earned a spot in the consolation finals of the 200 individual medley with a 2:19.61 for 16th place. Zach Lohmeier finished 23rd in 2:27.43.

Goebel finished sixth in the 50 freestyle in 23.50 while Nick Belfiori earned a spot in the consolation finals by placing 12th in 23.91. Smythe finished 22nd in 24.73.

Lohmeier just missed advancing in the 100 butterfly with a 1:05.00 for 19th place.

Goebel clocked a 50.55 to place fifth in the 100 freestyle while Belfiori finished 12th in 52.99 to reach the consolation finals. Eystad clocked a 54.91 for 26th place.

In the 500 freestyle, Merfeld finished third in 5:19.30 while Waggoner just missed advancing by placing 19th in 5:38.76. Ben Kading took 22nd in 5:45.83.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Goebel, Belfiori, Smythe and Eystad finished sixth in 1:34.92.

In the 100 backstroke, Smythe advanced to the finals by placing eighth in 1:01.06 while Merfeld advanced to the consolation finals by placing 16th in 1:05.42.

McBrady finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:06.30 while Tyler Booge reached the consolation finals by placing 16th in 1:12.49. Spencer Adolphson finished 27th in 1:16.14.

Belfiori, McBrady, Merfeld and Eystad ended preliminaries by placing ninth in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:44.56.

Swimmers deliver in finals

The Panthers carried the momentum from Friday into Saturday's finals to qualify for state in four events.

Smythe (28.14 in the backstroke), McBrady (29.68 in the breaststroke), Goebel (26.42 in the butterfly) and Eystad (22.93 in the freestyle) dropped their time to just top the cut time as all four qualified for state for the first time.

After McBrady dropped his time to 2:16.93 for 11th place in the 200 individual medley, Goebel earned his first individual state berth b placing fourth in the 50 freestyle. Belfiori dropped his time to 23.70 to finish 10th.

Goebel qualified for state in his third event by placing fourth in the 100 freestyle with another career best. Belfiori placed 12th with a 52.74.

In the 500 freestyle, Merfeld earned his first trip to state by placing third with his best time.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Goebel (23.53), Belfiori (23.81), Smythe (23.70) and Eystad (23.16) just missed advancing to state by placing sixth in 1:34.20. That missed the cut time of 1:33.98, but did break the school record of 1:34.39 set by Clay Eberhart, Brian Kuehn, Jonah Winter and Josh Winter in 2002.

Smythe (eighth in 1:01.82) and Merfeld (15th in 1:05.27) placed in the 100 backstroke and McBrady (sixth in 1:05.98) and Booge (16th in 1:12.09) placed in the 100 breaststroke. McBrady just missed qualifying for state, missing the cut time of 1:05.97.

Belfiori (53.79), McBrady (57.64), Merfeld (56.90) and Eystad (53.39) ended the meet by placing ninth in the 400 freestyle relay with a 3:41.72.

Team scores: Fergus Falls 415, Willmar 310, Hutchinson 249, Montevideo 241, Detroit Lakes 230, Bemidji 193, Melrose/Sauk Centre 181, Park Rapids 161, Dassel-Cokato 137, Perham 52, Rocori 42, Morris 28, Thief River Falls 10.

Individual results

200 medley relay: 1, Fergus Falls, 1:40.97. 2, Montevideo, 1:43.42. 3, Willmar, 1:43.58. 4, Detroit Lakes, 1:45.36. 5, Melrose, 1:46.22. 6, Park Rapids (Smythe, McBrady, Goebel, Eystad), 1:47.17.

200 freestyle: 1, McLain, W, 1:50.96. 2, Keeghan, FF, 1:51.13. 3, Nyberg, B, 1:52.70. 4, Falk, B, 1:52.94. 25, Waggoner, PR, 2:05.73.

200 individual medley: 1, Hurley, FF, 1:54.47. 2, Oak, DL, 2:01.46. 3, Money, FF, 2:08.00. 4, Mouritsen, FF, 2:09.71. 11, McBrady, PR, 2:16.93. 23, Lohmeier, PR, 2:27.43.

50 freestyle: 1, Hoven, B, 21.91. 2, Payne, Monte, 22.21. 3, Fairbanks, H, 23.09. 4, Goebel, PR, 23.35. 10, Belfiori, PR, 23.70. 22, Smythe, PR, 24.73.

Diving: 1, Melgaard, DL, 437.80 points. 2, Testa, Monte, 358.00. 3, Woltjer, W, 304.55. 4, Aasness, FF, 295.15.

100 butterfly: 1, Hurley, FF, 54.39. 2, Bateman, H, 55.10. 3, Sterger, FF, 56.74. 4, Pearson, MSC, 56.87. 5, Kitzman, FF, 57.16. 6, Payne, Monte, 57.45. 7, McLain, W, 57.48. 19, Lohmeier, PR, 1:05.00.

100 freestyle: 1, Hurley, FF, 46.83. 2, Hoven, B, 49.23. 3, Fisher, FF, 49.42. 4, Goebel, PR, 50.19. 5, Fairbanks, H, 50.34. 6, Grotto, DC, 50.71. 12, Belfiori, PR, 52.74. 26, Eystad, PR, 54.91.

500 freestyle: 1, Nyberg, B, 5:06.54. 2, Olson, DL, 5:10.64. 3, Merfeld, PR, 5:18.03. 4, Derouin, W, 5:21.99. 19, Waggoner, PR, 5:38.76. 22, Kading, PR, 5:45.83.

200 freestyle relay: 1, Hutchinson, 1:31.38. 2, Fergus Falls, 1:32.17. 3, Bemidji, 1:33.20. 4, Willmar, 1:33.79. 6, Park Rapids (Goebel, Belfiori, Smythe, Eystad), 1:34.20.

100 backstroke: 1, Bateman, H, 52.16. 2, Rozendaal, W, 55.75. 3, Reuter, MSC, 58.47. 4, Spaeth, Monte, 59.11. 8, Smythe, PR, 1:01.82. 15, Merfeld, PR, 1:05.27.

100 breaststroke: 1, Money, FF, 1:00.58. 2, Oak, DL, 1:01.12. 3, Dahlseng, DC, 1:02.72. 4, Erickson, Monte, 1:05.10. 5, Mouritsen, FF, 1:05.68. 6, McBrady, PR, 1:05.98. 16, Booge, PR, 1:12.09. 27, Adolphson, PR, 1:16.14.

400 freestyle relay: 1, Fergus Falls, 3:19.81. 2, Hutchinson, 3:21.02. 3, Detroit Lakes, 3:23.68. 4, Willmar, 3:24.86. 5, Bemidji, 3:24.91. 9, Park Rapids (Belfiori, McBrady, Merfeld, Eystad), 3:41.72.