Deciding to focus on the three relays paid off for the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team during Saturday's finals of the state Class A meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
The Panthers advanced to the finals in three events and in the consolation finals in three events during the state preliminaries Thursday and Friday. Scoring points in five events led Park Rapids to 10th place in the team standings with 83 points.
Marcus Benson (with a 25.52 split in the backstroke), Spencer Fritze (with a 26.80 split in the breaststroke), Zach Behrens (with a 23.79 split in the butterfly) and Matthew Benson (with a 22.03 split in the freestyle) gave the Panthers a fourht-place finish of 1:38.14 in the 200-yard medley relay. That just missed the school record of 1:38.13 set during Friday's preliminaries, but enabled all four swimmers to bring home medals. That finish gave Park Rapids 30 points. Breck/Blake set a Class A record with a winning time of 1:34.60.
Fritze, who entered Saturday's final three dives in second place, settled for fifth place with 360.75 points to add 14 points to Park Rapids' team total. This marked Fritze's second straight all-state honors in diving. Sauk Rapids/Rice's Jack Grabinski won the state title with 406.80 points.
Park Rapids scoredd 10 points by placing 12th in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:30.05. Spencer Fritze led off with a 22.95, Zach Fritze followed in 22.82, Behrens clocked a 22.27 split and Matthew Benson finished in 22.01. That group broke the school record with a 1:29.80 during Friday's preliminaries. Winona claimed the state title in 1:25.82.
Marcus Benson claimed a medal by placing fifth in the 100-yard backstroke in 53.83. Benson, who broke his school record with a 53.68 during Friday's preliminaries, added 14 points to Park Rapids' team total. Thomas Williams placed 16th in 58.19 in his state debut. Thomas, who clocked a 57.37 during preliminaries, scored 1 point. Blake/Breck's Anderson Breazeale won the state title in 50.45.
Park Rapids scored its final 14 points by placing 14th in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a school-record time of 3:18.71. That broke the school record of 3:20.82 set during Friday's preliminaries. Matthew Benson (49.19), Behrens (49.59), Marcus Benson (50.06) and Spencer Fritze (49.87) ended the state meet in style. Winona clocked a winning time of 3:08.68.