Park Rapids' Connor Smythe and Jake Waggoner completed their quest by placing at Saturday's state Class A boys swimming meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Smythe capped off his junior season by finishing eighth in the 100-yard backstroke in 57.26 to earn all-state honors while Waggoner capped off his senior season by placing 14th in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:50.26 and 13th in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:05.54. Those three efforts gave the Panthers 18 points to finish 28th in the team standings.
That was the best finish for the Panthers since placing 18th with 48 points in 2008.
"The kids swam well," said Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze. "It was so fast down there and our kids swam faster or stayed about the same. It was a great trip and a good end to the season."
Panthers advance in 3 events
The Panthers had a solid day during Friday's preliminaries by advancing to the finals in three of five events.
Waggoner earned a spot in the consolation finals by placing 13th in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:50.43. That broke Jonah Winter's school record of 1:50.54 set in 2002. Monticello's Paul Fair had the fastest time of 1:43.07 while St. Thomas Academy's Michael Berg claimed the final spot in the finals with an eighth-place time of 1:45.86. Waggoner qualified for state by placing fourth at the Section 5A meet with a 1:50.82 and was seeded 20th out of 25 state qualifiers.
Senior Zach Eystad missed advancing to the finals in the 50 freestyle by placing 20th in 22.87. St. Thomas Academy's Luke Schneeman had the fastest time of 21.14 while Hutchinson's Ethan Fairbanks earned the final spot in the finals by placing 16th in 22.51. Eystad qualified for state with a runner-up 22.94 at the section meet. Eystad was seeded 20th out of 21 qualifiers. Hutchinson's Cole Bateman ended up winning the state title in 21.12.
In the 500 freestyle, Waggoner entered seeded No. 5 out of 29 qualifiers with a runner-up 5:02.04 at the section meet. That broke Eric Potter's school record of 5:06.95 set in 1988. Waggoner earned a spot in the consolation finals by placing 11th in 5:02.19. Red Wing's Tanner Alms set the pace with a winning time of 4:40.14 while Breck's Evan Stafford claimed the final spot in the finals by placing eighth in 4:58.25.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Smythe, senior Ben Kading, Waggoner and Eystad was looking to advance to the finals after breaking the school record with a runner-up 1:32.39 at the section meet. Smythe, Waggoner, Eystad and Sam Goebel set the old record with a 1:32.80 last season. That relay team, which was seeded No. 15 out of 22 teams, was disqualified in the preliminaries. Monticello had the fastest preliminary time of 1:26.47 while Hutchinson earned the final spot in the finals by placing 16th in 1:32.53. Monticello ended up winning the state title and setting a Class A record with a time of 1:24.87. Smythe, Waggoner, Eystad and Goebel placed 19th in 1:32.80 at last year's state meet.
Smythe capped off Friday's preliminaries by advancing to the finals with an eighth-place time of 56.51. That just missed Smythe's school record of 56.21 set with his runner-up time at the section meet. Smythe entered the state meet seeded eighth out of 23 qualifiers. Bateman had the top preliminary time of 49.70.
Smythe, Waggoner place
Waggoner and Smythe capped off the state meet by placing in three events during Saturday's finals.
In the 200 freestyle, Waggoner clocked a 1:50.26 to lower his school record and score 3 points for finishing in 14th place. Fair won the state title with a 1:40.84.
Waggoner followed by placing 13th in the 500 freestyle with a 5:05.54 for 4 points. Alms set a Class A record with a winning time of 4:36.73. Waggoner finished 20th at last year's state meet with a 5:13.58.
Smythe scored 11 points by placing eighth in the 100 backstroke with a 57.26 to become only the sixth member of the Park Rapids boys swimming team to earn all-state honors. Bateman set a Class A record with a winning time of 49.32. Smythe scored the Panthers' only point at last year's state meet by placing 16th in 57.47.
St. Thomas Academy won the state title with 263 points. The other Section 5A teams that scored points were Fergus Falls (sixth with 112 points), Alexandria (17th with 51 points), Detroit Lakes (29th with 17 points), Bemidji (30th with 16 points) and Perham (36th with 6 points). A total of 38 teams scored points at the state meet.