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Klasen brings home state medal

Park Rapids' Bryce Klasen capped off his high school swimming career by placing fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke at Saturday's state Cass A meet. (John Georg / Perham Enterprise)

Bryce Klasen wanted to cap off his senior season by joining an elite group by bringing home a medal from the state Class A boys swimming meet.

The Park Rapids senior accomplished that goal in record fashion.

Klasen became the fifth member of the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team to earn a state medal by placing fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:02.79 at Saturday's state Class A meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

"Bryce joined some elite company," said Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze. "Finishing in the top five at state is very respectable."

Klasen qualified for state in two events after meeting the state cut time with a 2:09.18 in the 200 medley relay and finishing second with a school record time of 1:02.46 in the 100 breaststroke at the Section 3A meet.

During Friday's state preliminaries, Klasen just missed advancing to the finals in the 200 individual medley with a 2:10.41 for 17th place. The top 16 finishers advanced to Saturday's finals. Alec Kandt of Simley claimed the final berth with a 2:09.99 while Fergus Falls' Mike Hurley took first in preliminaries with a state record time of 1:55.74. Hurley would repeat as the state champion by shattering that mark with a 1:49.58.

At the section meet, Klasen had splits of 27.38 in the butterfly, 34.33 in the backstroke, 36.43 in the breaststroke and 31.04 in the freestyle for his 2:09.18, which ranks third in school history behind Elliot Lawrence's 2:05.32 and Clay Eberhart's 2:07.46.

In his state debut in that event, Klasen had splits of 27.14 in the butterfly, 35.08 in the backstroke, 39.44 in the breaststroke and 31.11 in the freestyle for a 2:10.41, which was his second fastest time ever. Klasen entered the state meet seeded 15th out of 21 qualifiers.

"We weren't too worried about that (seeing Klasen's slower time at state)," said Fritze. "The 200 IM was a bonus swim for him."

"I felt pretty good (Friday)," said Klasen. "I was kind of nervous, but I didn't go that much slower (than at the section meet). I just missed (advancing to the finals), but I tried my best and I was pretty happy with it."

Klasen rebounded in the 100 breaststroke by winning his heat and placing fourth overall with a 1:01.96. Klasen had splits of 28.58 and 33.38, which topped his section splits of 29.33 and 33.13. That eclipsed his school record and gave him a spot in Saturday's finals.

"Bryce had a great swim in the breaststroke," said Fritze. "He dropped a half second and met his goal of going under 1:02. He looked really good."

"I was kind of nervous because I didn't know whether I was going to go a little faster, the same or a little slower," said Klasen. "My goal all year was to get a 1:01.99. I was really excited when I got my goal of going a half-second faster."

Hurley led the preliminary field with a winning time of 1:00.01. St. Thomas' Paul Brunkhorst was second in 1:01.80 and St. Thomas' Michael Quinn was third in 1:01.91. Quillan Oak of Detroit Lakes was fifth in 1:02.20.

Going into Saturday's finals, Klasen was looking to drop some more time off his school record. That didn't happen, but the Park Rapids senior did fulfill his goal of bringing home a state medal.

"You never know how it's going to go from one day to the next. You can do better or you can do worse. You never know," said Klasen. "I knew I was in the top eight, so I just wanted to make sure I didn't get DQ'd."

Klasen, who finished 16th in the 100 breaststroke at the 2007 state meet with a time of 1:05.92, used splits of 29.00 and 33.79 to finish fifth in 1:02.79. That was the second best finish ever for a Park Rapids swimmer at the boys state meet. Hurley, who was the state runner-up in this event last season, captured the state title in 57.49 while Oak moved up to second place with a 1:01.28. Quinn, who finished third last season, was third in 1:01.64 and Brunkhorst, who finished ninth last year, finished fourth in 1:02.02.

"Bryce had a lot of down time Saturday and he was tired," said Fritze. "But how can you not be happy by being all-state."

"I tried to stay loose, but I felt a little off," said Klasen. "I got a little tired after the first 25 (yards), but I kept pushing through it and focused on my stroke. My time went up, but it was still my third best time ever. I was really happy finishing fifth."

By placing fifth, Klasen earned 14 points as Park Rapids finished 27th in the team standings. Breck/Blake won the state title with 296 points.

With his state showing, Klasen joins Josh Winter, Jonah Winter, Lawrence and Colton Storseth as the only members of the Park Rapids swimming and diving team to win state medals. Josh Winter finished sixth in the 50 freestyle in 2002, Jonah Winter finished sixth in the 50 freestyle in 2003 and finished sixth in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 butterfly in 2004, Lawrence finished sixth in both the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly last season, and Storseth finished seventh in the 100 butterfly last season.

"Bryce worked hard for that," said Fritze. "Being all-state was a good way to end his season."

"I don't have any regrets," said Klasen, who is planning on swimming at the University of North Dakota next season. "I got my goal of beating a 1:01.99 and I got a medal. I did my best. I'm happy about that."