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Swimmers fall short in quest for finals

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Entering the state Class A meet, Todd Fritze said the only way for the five members of the Park Rapids boys swimming team to advance to the finals was to improve on their seed times.


Even though they lowered their times in two of the four events, the Panthers fell short of reaching their goal of scoring points at the state meet.

Entering Friday's preliminaries at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center, the Panthers had work to do in order to finish in the top 16 spots and advance to Saturday's finals.

The 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Connor Smythe, junior Ryan McBrady, junior Sam Goebel and sophomore Zach Eystad was seeded last out of 21 state qualifiers with a time of 1:47.17. Goebel was seeded last out of 19 qualifiers in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.34 and No. 17 out of 26 qualifiers in the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.19. Senior Kevin Merfeld was the No. 16 seed out of 17 qualifiers in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:18.03.

During Friday preliminaries, the 200 medley relay team improved to a 1:46.86, but failed to advance by placing 21st. Smythe clocked a 28.11 in the backstroke, McBrady had a split of 29.53 in the breaststroke, Goebel went 26.41 in the butterfly and Eystad finished up with a 22.81 in the freestyle. Melrose/Sauk Centre clocked a 1:44.49 to finish 16th and claim the final spot in the consolation finals while Breck/Blake led the way with a 1:38.10. Breck/Blake would set a state Class A record by winning the 200 medley relay in 1:36.45 during Saturday's finals.

Goebel improved his time in the 50 freestyle, but saw his time go up in the 100 freestyle. Goebel finished 19th in the 50 freestyle with a 23.34 and took 21st in the 100 freestyle with a 50.50.

Princeton's Kyle Palmer claimed the final berth in the consolation finals of the 50 freestyle with a 22.81 while Bemidji's Seth Hoven clocked the fastest preliminary time of 21.23. Sartell-St. Stephen's Cameron Hyde won the state title by breaking the state Class A record with a 20.61.

In the 100 freestyle, Grand Rapids' Eben Rohling earned the last spot in the consolation finals with a 50.21 while Sartell's Cameron Hyde had the fastest preliminary time of 46.75. In the finals, Fergus Falls' Mike Hurley led the way with a winning time of 45.34.

Merfeld just missed advancing to the consolation finals with a time of 5:18.37. Willmar's AJ Derouin finished 16th in 5:17.44 while Red Wing's Tanner Alms had the fastest time with a 4:50.78. Alms broke the state Class A record in the finals with a 4:39.02.

In addition to those state records, Hurley broke the state record in the 200 individual medley with a 1:49.20 and Blake/Breck's Mitchell Foster clocked a 49.35 to break the state Class A record in the 100 backstroke.

Fergus Falls won the state Class A title with 205 points to edge St. Thomas Academy's 204 points. Detroit Lakes finished 11th with 79 points, Bemidji was 12th with 69 points and Melrose/Sauk Centre placed 29th with 11 points.