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Panthers send four swimmers to state

Zach Eystad qualified for the state Class A boys swimming meet with a runner-up finish in the 50-yard freestyle at the Section 5A meet.

Todd Fritze couldn't have asked for a better Section 5A meet from the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team.

In addition to having every swimmer clock a lifetime best during Friday's preliminaries or Saturday's finals at Bemidji, the Panthers set three school record and qualified four individuals in five events for the state Class A meet. Park Rapids also finished third in the team standings with 313 points to trail only Alexandria's 450.50 and Fergus Falls' 360 in this seven-team meet.

"You can't ask for anything more than lifetime bests across the board," said Fritze. "We had a great first day and the kids were pretty focused the second day."

In the finals, senior Jake Waggoner claimed the first state berth with a state-qualifying time of 1:50.82 for fourth place in the 200-yard freestyle. Senior Zach Eystad followed with a runner-up 22.94 in the 50 freestyle to advance. Waggoner then broke the school record and qualified for state with a runner-up 5:02.04 in the 500 freestyle. Eric Potter had held the old record of 5:06.95 since 1988. Junior Connor Smythe and senior Ben Kading joined Waggoner and Eystad to break the school record in the 200 freestyle relay with a runner-up 1:32.39 to advance to state. Smythe, Waggoner, Eystad and Sam Goebel clocked a 1:32.80 last year. Smythe capped off the meet with a runner-up 56.21 in the 100 backstroke to break his own school record and qualify for state. Smythe clocked a 57.47 last season.

Entering the state meet, Waggoner is seeded No. 20 out of 25 swimmers in the 200 freestyle and No. 5 out of 29 qualifiers in the 500 freestyle. Eystad is seeded No. 20 out of 21 swimmers in the 50 freestyle. Smythe is seeded No. 8 out of 23 qualifiers in the 100 backstroke. The 200 freestyle relay team is seeded No. 15 out of 22 qualifiers. The top eight finishers during Friday's preliminaries at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center advance to Saturday's finals while the next eight earn spots in Saturday's consolation finals.

"These kids worked pretty hard this year and it paid off," said Fritze. "I have high expectations for them. If we can drop a little time, good things will happen."

Panthers get in position

The Panthers put themselves in solid position to qualify for state in multiple events with a solid performance during Friday's preliminaries.

Smythe, Dillon Schroeder, Fred Stinar and Eystad opened preliminaries with a runner-up 1:46.68 in the 200 medley relay.

Waggoner clocked a runner-up 1:51.03 in the 200 freestyle while Bobby Bruce (14th in 2:05.71) and Matthew Benson (16th in 2:11.45) advanced to the consolation finals. Iain Wallace just missed advancing by placing 19th in 2:13.17.

In the 200 individual medley, Smythe was fifth in 2:11.76 while Spencer Adolphson (13th in 2:25.28), Hunter Utke (15th in 2:33.87) and Andrew Zinke (16th in 2:43.22) qualified for the consolation finals.

Eystad took first in the 50 freestyle with a 22.78 while Kurt Fritze was seventh in 23.60. Kading (11th in 24.03) and Matt Konshok (15th in 24.87) advanced to the consolation finals.

Adolphson (10th in 1:03.08) and Stinar (12th in 1:03.51) qualified for the consolation finals in the 100 butterfly while Niklas Froelich (21st in 1:10.00) and Zinke (23rd in 1:13.27) missed the cut.

In the 100 freestyle, Eystad finished eighth in 52.19 and Kading finished 11th in 53.57 to advance while Wallace (20th in 59.57) and Kyle Merfeld (23rd in 1:00.95) missed the cut.

Waggoner just missed the school record with a runner-up 5:07.27 in the 500 freestyle and Schroeder finished seventh in 5:33.15 to advance to the finals. Bruce (10th in 5:43.57) and Benson (13th in 5:51.79) qualified for the consolation finals.

Smythe, Kading, Waggoner and Eystad put themselves in position to advance to state in the 200 freestyle relay with a runner-up time of 1:34.38.

The Panthers qualified three for the finals in the 100 backstroke with Smythe leading the way with a runner-up 57.51. Tyler Breitweser took eighth in 1:04.05 and Konshok was 15th in 1:06.58. Merfeld just missed advancing by placing 17th in 1:07.37.

In the 100 breaststroke, Kalvin Hagan finished seventh in 1:09.01 while Schroeder (10th in 1:10.67) and Utke (12th in 1:12.45) also qualified.

Kading, Fritze, Adolphson and Waggoner capped off preliminaries by placing fourth in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:34.86.

Panthers excel in finals

The Panthers had another solid day of performances during Saturday's finals.

Smythe, Schroeder, Stinar and Eystad scored 28 points by placing fifth in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:45.85.

Waggoner made the state cut time with a 1:50.82 to finish fourth in the 200 freestyle while Bruce (15th in 2:07.58) and Benson (16th in 2:12.35) helped add 18 points to the Panthers' team score.

Smythe took fourth in the 200 individual medley with a 2:09.57 as the Panthers scored 23 points in that event. Adolphson (13th in 2:27.73), Utke (14th in 2:27.82) and Zinke (16th in 2:45.16) also placed in the 200 individual medley.

Eystad's runner-up 22.94 led the Panthers to 25 points in the 50 freestyle. Fritze was disqualified while Kading took 10th in 23.73 and Konshok was 16th in 25.06.

Hagan just missed qualifying for state in diving by placing fourth with 362.50 points. Stinar finished ninth with 254.50 points, Fritze was 11th with 233.15 points and Breitweser was 12th with 230.15 points as the Panthers scored 35 points in that event.

After Stinar (13th in 1:04.38) and Adolphson (14th in 1:05.25) scored 7 points in the 100 butterfly, Eystad's seventh-place time of 52.24 and Kading's 11th-place time of 53.19 led the Panthers to18 points in the 100 freestyle.

Waggoner broke the school record in the 500 freestyle with a runner-up 5:02.04 and Schroeder finished seventh in 5:31.90. Bruce (11th in 5:44.55) and Benson (13th in 5:49.03) rounded out Park Rapids' 39 points in that race.

Park Rapids added 34 more points to the team total and another school record with a runner-up 1:32.39 by Smythe, Kading, Waggoner and Eystad in the 200 freestyle relay.

Smythe gave the Panthers another school record and helped add 35 points to the team total with a runner-up 56.21 in the 100 backstroke. Breitweser finished eighth in 1:04.93 while Konshok was 10th in 1:04.24.

Hagan's seventh-place 1:10.53, Schroeder's 10th-place 1:11.64 and Utke's 13th-place 1:14.58 led to 23 points in the 100 breaststroke.

Kading, Fritze, Adolphson and Waggoner completed Park Rapids' team score with 28 points by placing fifth in the 400 freestyle relay with a 3:37.07.

Team scores: Alexandria 450.50, Fergus Falls 360, Park Rapids 313, Bemidji 279, Detroit Lakes 276.50, Perham 194, Thief River Falls 132, Morris 21.

Individual results

200 medley relay: 1, Fergus Falls, 1:42.22. 2, Bemidji, 1:43.35. 3, Alexandria, 1:44.24. 5, Park Rapids (Smythe, Schroeder, Stinar, Z. Eystad), 1:45.85.

200 freestyle: 1, Aaseng, A, 1:47.24. 2, Jacobson, A, 1:50.12. 3, Hemp, B, 1:50.51. 4, Waggoner, PR, 1:50.82. 15, B. Bruce, PR, 2:07.58. 16, Benson, PR, 2:12.35. 19, Wallace, PR, 2:13.17.

200 individual medley: 1, Mouritsen, FF, 2:03.19. 2, Langendorfer, P, 2:08.13. 3, Kallevig, A, 2:09.22. 4, Smythe, PR, 2:09.57. 13, Adolphson, PR, 2:27.73. 14, H. Utke, PR, 2:27.82. 16, Zinke, PR, 2:45.16.

50 freestyle: 1, Krengel, DL, 22.78. 2, Z. Eystad, PR, 22.94. 3, Moe, A, 23.11. 10, Kading, PR, 23.37. 16, Konshok, PR, 25.06.

Diving: 1, Aasness, FF, 446.05 points. 2, Magnuson, FF, 376.75. 3, Howard, B, 374.30. 4, Hagan, PR, 362.50. 9, Stinar, PR, 254.50. 11, Fritze, PR, 233.15. 12, Breitweser, PR, 230.15.

100 butterfly: 1, Kitzman, FF, 52.56. 2, Possai, TRF, 57.17. 3, Kallevig, A, 57.54. 13, Stinar, PR, 1:04.38. 14, Adolphson, PR, 1:05.25. 21, Froelich, PR, 1:10.00. 23, Zinke, PR, 1:13.27.

100 freestyle: 1, Mouritsen, FF, 48.35. 2, Krengel, DL, 49.00. 3, Moe, A, 50.47. 7, Z. Eystad, PR, 52.24. 11, Kading, PR, 53.19. 20, Wallace, PR, 59.57. 23, Merfeld, PR, 1:00.95.

500 freestyle: 1, Aaseng, A, 4:48.50. 2, Waggoner, PR, 5:02.04. 3, Pietrowski, A, 5:02.62. 7, Schroeder, PR, 5:31.90. 11, B. Bruce, PR, 5:44.55. 13, Benson, PR, 5:49.03

200 freestyle relay: 1, Alexandria, 1:32.23. 2, Park Rapids (Smythe, Kading, Waggoner, Z. Eystad), 1:32.39. 3, Detroit Lakes, 1:32.40.

100 backstroke: 1, Kitzman, FF, 54.79. 2, Smythe, PR, 56.21. 3, Bartolomeo, A, 58.09. 8, Breitweser, PR, 1:04.93. 10, Konshok, PR, 1:04.24. 17, Merfeld, PR, 1:07.37.

100 breaststroke: 1, Jacobson, A, 1:02.02. 2, Hemp, B, 1:03.17. 3, Langendorfer, P, 1:03.79. 7, Hagan, PR, 1:10.53. 10, Schroeder, PR, 1:11.64. 13, H. Utke, PR, 1:14.58.

400 freestyle relay: 1, Fergus Falls, 3:22.25. 2, Detroit Lakes, 3:24.71. 3, Alexandria, 3:24.80. 5, Park Rapids (Kading, Fritze, Adolphson, Waggoner), 3:37.07.