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Boys Swimming & Diving: Panthers ready to step into new roles

Park Rapids' 16 swimmers and divers looking forward to producing another successful season.

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High school swimming

Head coach Megan Rykhus is looking forward to seeing what the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team can accomplish this season.

Last year, the Panthers went 8-1 in dual meets and capped off the season by placing fifth at the Section 5A meet. Twelve competitors return from that team in hopes of leading the Panthers to another successful season this winter.

Returning for the Panthers are juniors Pierce Deblieck, Nicholas Graham, Daniel Hoyt, Matthew Lichter, Jordan Odor, Malachi Martin, Cameron Runyan and Isaac Zinniel; sophomores Josh David and Dash Martin; freshman Leo Kaufenberg; and eighth grader Carter Schiller. Runyan and Odor return as divers while Malachi Martin and Dash Martin will also dive this season.

Leading Park Rapids at last year’s section meet were Odor in the 500-yard freestyle (fourth), Zinniel in the 100 breaststroke (fifth) and 200 individual medley (sixth), and Runyan in diving (sixth). Odor and Zinniel swam on the 200 medley relay that placed fifth; Zinniel, Runyan and Odor swam on the 200 freestyle relay that finished fifth; and Runyan and Malachi Martin swam on the 400 freestyle relay that took sixth. Odor also finished 12th in the 50 freestyle.

The other section competitors last season were David in the 200 freestyle (24th); Malachi Martin (18th) and Graham (20th) in the 200 individual medley; Runyan (17th) in the 50 freestyle; Malachi Martin (19th) and Schiller (29th) in the 100 freestyle; Lichter in the 500 freestyle (19th); Lichter (19th), Schiller (20th) and David (24th) in the 100 backstroke; and Graham in the 100 breaststroke (21st).

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Those efforts gave the Panthers 165 points for fifth place in the team standings. Sartell-St. Stephen won the section title with 562 points while Alexandria (456), Bemidji (290) and Melrose/Sauk Centre (288) followed in this 10-team meet.

Entering the school’s all-time top 10 lists last season were Odor (fourth in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 500 freestyle), Zinniel (eighth in the 50 freestyle), and Runyan in diving (sixth for six dives and 11 dives). Point totals last season had Zinniel (177), Odor (165) and Runyan (158.50) leading the way with Malachi Martin (83.50), DeBlieck (59), Dash Martin (59), Kaufenberg (58.50), Lichter (55), Schilling (52), David (46.50), Graham (39) and Hoyt (35) also contributing.

Looking to fill in for last year’s senior duo of Elliott Nichols (who scored 146.50 points) and Jacob Zinniel (who scored 143 points) are four newcomers: junior Matthew Dahring, eighth graders Cameron Swanson and Gabriel Hoogakker, and seventh grader Christian Thorson.

“We have some boys swimming in new events and new swimmers learning the ropes. This season will be centered around hard work, dedication and growth as many seasons before. The expectations stay high each season. They just look a little different depending on the boys in the pool,” said Rykhus, who will be assisted by Baylee Gartner. “This year we need versatile swimmers and we have some that are excited to be swimming around. I am looking for those kids to put the team first and are eager to work hard each practice. We have a lot of them in the pool who are willing and ready to step up. Without seniors, I am looking at our juniors to step into leadership roles this season and next season. I am really excited for a normal season and looking forward to seeing what they can do this season.”

SEASON SCHEDULE
Dec. 11 - at Fergus Falls Invitational, 10 a.m. Dec. 14 - Detroit Lakes, 6 p.m. Dec. 17 - Bemidji, 6 p.m.
Jan. 4 - Thief River Falls, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 6 - Sauk Centre/Melrose, 6 p.m. Jan. 11 - Perham/New York Mills, 6 p.m. Jan. 18 - at Detroit Lakes, 6 p.m. Jan. 25 - at Thief River Falls, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 - at Bemidji, 6 p.m. Feb. 5 - Park Rapids Invitational, 12 noon. Feb. 8 - Perham/New York Mills, 6 p.m. Feb. 12 - Mid-State Conference meet at Detroit Lakes, 3 p.m.
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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