Panthers place fifth at section meet

Jordan Odor and Isaac Zinniel contended for state berths to lead the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team.

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Jordan Odor just missed qualifying for the state Class A meet by placing fourth in the 500-yard freestyle with a career best 5:10.61 at the Section 5A meet. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Even though the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team failed to qualify anyone for the state Class A meet, head coach Megan Rykhus was pleased with the performances of her team during the Section 5A meet.

The Panthers entered only one entrant for the diving portion of the section meet, which was held at Alexandria on Thursday, March 11. Park Rapids had 11 boys competing during the swimming portion of the section meet, which was held at three different sites on Saturday, March 13. The Panthers joined Perham/New York Mills and Thief River Falls at Bemidji while Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls competed at Morris. Sartell-St. Stephen hosted Melrose/Sauk Centre and Alexandria.

The times at those three sites were combined to determine the state qualifiers. The top-three finishers in each swimming event, along with those making state-cut times, advanced. The top-four finishers in diving also qualified for state. The three sites featured only finals, with no preliminaries.

Despite having only one diver and 11 swimmers, the Panthers finished fifth out of 10 teams with 165 points. Sartell-St. Stephen repeated as section champs with 562 points while Alexandria (456), Bemidji (290) and Melrose/Sauk Centre (288) followed.

“I am extremely impressed with the way the guys performed at this unusual section meet. It was different not being with the section as a whole, but it was run so smoothly so we didn't have to wait long for results from the other two sites,” said Rykhus, whose team had 24 season bests in 24 races. “It was a different mindset preparing the boys for one day of swimming compared to two days. However they stepped up and we had all seasonal bests.”


The Panthers contended for state berths in two individual events as Jordan Odor placed fourth in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:10.61 and Isaac Zinniel placed fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.13. Odor’s seed time was a 5:34.81 and Zinniel’s seed time was a 1:11.48.

Cameron Runyan earned the Panthers’ first 13 points by placing sixth in diving with 335.25 points as Sartell’s David Binsfeld led the field with 407.15 points. Runyan (who was a state qualifier in diving last season) hadn’t performed 11 dives all season.

Park Rapids kicked off the swimming events by scoring 28 points in the 200 medley relay as Odor, Jacob Zinniel, Elliott Nichols and Isaac Zinniel clocked a 1:46.83 for fifth place. That was well ahead of their seed time of 1:51.37. Sartell took first with a 1:39.23.

Josiah Smee added 2 points by placing 15th in the 200 freestyle in 2:04.87 while Josh David placed 24th in 2:21.92. Smee’s seed time was a 2:13.21 while David improved on his seed time of 2:26.78. Sartell’s Carter Larson finished first in 1:42.75 to set a section record.

In the 200 individual medley, Isaac Zinniel placed sixth in 2:13.09 for 13 points while Malachi Martin finished 18th in 2:32.62 and Nicholas Graham was 20th in 2:47.48. Zinniel (2:19.88), Martin (2:42.65) and Graham (2:56.06) all improved on their seed times. Sartell’s George Larson claimed the section title in 2:00.58.

Alexandria’s Nicolas Welle won the section title in the 50 freestyle in 20.97 to tie his section record as Odor earned 5 points by placing 12th in 23.93. Runyan was 17th in 24.32 and Nichols took 20th in 25.22. Seed times had Odor at 24.39, Runyan at 25.26 and Nichols at 25.35.

Nichols dropped time in the 100 butterfly, going from a seed time of 1:01.64 to a 1:00.23 to place ninth and earn 9 points. Alexandria’s Thomas Williams took first in 53.70.

Welle was the section champ in the 100 freestyle with a section record of 44.46 while Jacob Zinniel finished 16th in 54.80 for 1 point. Zinniel entered with a seed time of 56.35. Martin dropped from a 59.63 to a 56.92 for 19th place while Carter Schiller went from a seed time of 1:11.31 to a 1:04.44 for 29th place.


Odor scored 15 points in the 500 freestyle and Smee added 2 points by placing 15th in 5:46.25, which was faster than his seed time of 5:58.27. Matthew Lichter dropped from a 6:38.38 to a 6:19.86 to place 19th. Larson led the field in 4:41.91, which broke the section record.

The Panthers scored 28 points by placing fifth in the 200 freestyle relay as Isaac Zinniel, Nichols, Runyan and Odor combined for a 1:35.75, which was faster than their 1:39.23 seed time. Sartell led the pack with a section record of 1:26.24.

Jack Thomas of Sartell captured the section title in the 100 backstroke in 53.34. Lichter went from a 1:19.62 to a 1:14.48 for 19th place, Schiller dropped from a 1:23.62 to a 1:15.72 for 20th place and David finished 24th in 1:19.21, which was faster than his seed time of 1:23.62.

Jacob Zinniel’s time of 1:10.66 for ninth place combined with Isaac Zinniel’s finish gave the Panthers 23 points in the 100 breaststroke. Jacob Zinniel entered with a seed time of 1:14.00. Graham dropped his time from a 1:26.20 to a 1:21.41 to place 21st. Taking first was Alexandria’s Logan Tung in 1:00.38.

In the final race, Runyan, Martin, Smee and Jacob Zinniel clocked a 3:44.70 for sixth place and 26 points in the 400 freestyle relay. That was an improvement on the Panthers’ seed time of 3:59.13. Sartell won the section title by breaking the section record with a 3:09.42.

In addition to having a good day in the pool, Park Rapids’ Sarah Heise was voted the Section 5A Assistant Coach of the Year.

“The expectation stayed the same where they needed to step up and swim fast. They focused on their own swimming and it showed with massive time drops,” said Rykhus, whose team placed fifth with 179 points last season. “It makes me beyond excited to see what they will be able to do next season. It was a great day to be a Panther.”

The state Class A meet will begin with diving on Thursday (March 18). The swimming events will be held on Saturday (March 20) at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.


Team scores: Sartell-St. Stephen 562, Alexandria 456, Bemidji 290, Melrose/Sauk Centre 288, Park Rapids 165, Fergus Falls 146, Perham/New York Mills 83, Detroit Lakes 65, Morris Area 65, Thief River Falls 59.
Individual events
Diving: 1, Binsfeld, SSS, 407.15 points. 2, Saari, B, 280.85. 3, Kavanagh, A, 370.20. 4, Staples, A, 362.45. 6, Runyan, PR, 335.25.
200 medley relay: 1, Sartell, 1:39.23. 2, Alexandria, 1:39.98. 3, Melrose, 1:43.69. 5, Park Rapids (Odor, J. Zinniel, Nichols, I. Zinniel), 1:46.83.
200 freestyle: 1, Larson, SSS, 1:42.75. 2, Hoyt, A, 1:44.02. 3, Holm, A, 1:45.43. 4, Edman, FF, 1:49.50. 15, Smee, PR, 2:04.87. 24, David, PR, 2:21.92.
200 individual medley: 1, Larson, SSS, 2:00.58. 2, Tung, A, 2:02.57. 3, Olson-Rodel, A, 2:02.82. 6, I. Zinniel, PR, 2:13.09. 18, Martin, PR, 2:32.62. 20, Graham, PR, 2:47.48.
50 freestyle: 1, Welle, A. 20.97. 2, Maras, SSS, 21.65. 3, Zhang, SSS, 22.39. 4, Matetich, B, 22.49. 12, Odor, PR, 23.93. 17, Runyan, PR, 24.32. 20, Nichols, PR, 25.22.
100 butterfly: 1, Williams, A, 53.70. 2, Matetich, B, 54.51. 3, Olson-Rodel, A, 54.83. 4, Son, B, 55.42. 5, JOhnson, A, 55.57. 6, Thomas, SSS, 55.62. 9, NIchols, PR, 1:00.23.
100 freestyle: 1, Welle, A, 46.46. 2, Maras, SSS, 46.75. 3, Holm, A, 47.20. 4, Larson, SSS, 48.26. 16, J. Zinniel, PR, 54.80. 19, Martin, PR, 56.92. 29, Schiller, PR, 1:04.44.
500 freestyle: 1, Larson, SSS, 4:41.91. 2, Hoyt, A, 4:48.47. 3, Reineke, A, 5:08.33. 4, Odor, PR, 5:10.61. 15, Smee, PR, 5:46.25. 19, Lichter, PR, 6:19.86.
200 freestyle relay: 1, Sartell, 1:26.24. 2, Alexandria, 1:26.72. 3, Bemidji, 1:33.13. 5, Park Rapids (I. Zinniel, Nichols, Runyan, Odor), 1:35.75.
100 backstroke: 1, Thomas, SSS, 53.34. 2, Williams, A, 54.20. 3, Espelien, SSS, 56.96. 19, Lichter, PR, 1:14.48. 20, Schiller, PR, 1:15.72. 24, David, PR, 1:19.21.
100 breaststroke: 1, Tung, A, 1:00.38. 2, Zhang, SSS, 1:01.16. 3, Anderson, SSS, 1:03.56. 5, I. Zinniel, PR, 1:07.13. 9, J. Zinniel, PR, 1:10.66. 21, Graham, PR, 1:21.41.
400 freestyle relay: 1, Sartell, 3:09.42. 2, Alexandria, 3:11.97. 3, Bemidji, 3:25.51. 6, Park Rapids (Runyan, Martin, Smee, J. Zinniel), 3:44.70.

Isaac Zinniel clocked a season best of 1:07.13 to place fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke during the Section 5A meet at Bemidji. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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