Panthers qualify four individuals in five events for state swim meet

When Sartell-St. Stephen was moved into Section 5A, Todd Fritze knew the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team would most likely have to meet qualifying times in order to advance to the state Class A meet.

     When Sartell-St. Stephen was moved into Section 5A, Todd Fritze knew the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team would most likely have to meet qualifying times in order to advance to the state Class A meet.

     That’s exactly what the Panthers did in two events during the finals of Saturday’s Section 5A meet at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

     While Sartell was securing 15 state berths and swimming away with the section title with 494 points, the Panthers broke three school records, qualified four individuals in five events for state and placed sixth with 208 points.

     Sophomore Matthew Benson qualified for state in two events by winning the section title and breaking the pool record and school record in the 500-yard freestyle and placing second and breaking the school record in the 200 freestyle while freshman Spencer Fritze qualified by placing fourth in diving.

     The Panthers also qualified in two other events as Fritze finished fifth in the 50 freestyle by meeting the state-qualifying time while senior Hunter Utke and sophomore Casimir Simonson joined Benson and Fritze in the 200 medley relay that broke the school record and also met the qualifying time.


     Simonson, Fritze, Benson and Utke opened Saturday’s finals by placing fifth in 1:43.91. That topped the state mark of 1:44.87 and broke the school record of 1:44.35 set by Colton Storseth, Bryce Klasen, Elliot Lawrence and Jake Sheeran in 2008.

     Benson earned his first individual trip to state in the 200 freestyle by placing third in 1:49.35. That was below the state cut time of 1:50.29 and broke Jake Waggoner’s school record of 1:50.26 set in 2013. Fritze followed by earning his first state trip in the 50 freestyle by placing fifth in 22.70 to top the cut time of 22.75.

     Fritze and Benson capped off Park Rapids’ state qualifiers by returning to state in two events. Fritze finished fourth in diving with 344.70 points while Benson won the title in the 500 freestyle in 5:00.69, which topped Waggoner’s school record of 5:02.04 set in 2013.

     “It was a fast meet, so qualifying four boys in five events, breaking three school records and breaking one pool record wasn’t too bad,” said Park Rapids head coach Todd Fritze. “It didn’t surprise me how fast the meet was. We went in with the idea that we had to swim fast and be under state cut.”

     The state Class A meet begins with diving preliminaries on Thursday, swimming preliminaries on Friday and the finals on Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

     “It’s going to be another fast meet,” said Fritze. “We’ll have to get a little faster if we want to swim the second day.”


Panthers shine during preliminaries


     The Panthers clocked 28 season-best times and sent 19 entrants to the finals during Friday’s preliminaries.

     Simonson’s 27.40 split in the backstroke, Fritze’s 28.27 split in the breaststroke, Benson’s 25.68 split in the butterfly and Utke’s 23.44 split in the freestyle led the Panthers to fifth place in the 200 medley relay with a 1:44.79 to meet the qualifying time. Sartell took first in 1:40.01.

     In the 200 freestyle, Benson clocked a runner-up 1:51.20 while Jack Walsh took 25th in 2:10.53. Sartell’s Spencer Sathre took first in 1:46.16.

     Zach Behrens (11th in 2:14.44) and Simonson (13th in 2:18.11) advanced to the consolation finals in the 200 individual medley while Samuel Huot finished 22nd in 2:25.32 and James Utke was 23rd in 2:26.02. Sartell’s Mitchell Dockendorf led the field in 2:05.15.

     Fritze hit the state cut time by placing fourth in 22.75 while Jack Bateman (20th in 24.54) and Zach Fritze (22nd in 24.78) missed advancing. Fergus Falls’ Luke Raitz was first in 22.07.

     During preliminaries of diving, Spencer Fritze was second with 167.15 points, Seth Breitweser was 11th with 123 points and Dan Walsh was 18th with 93.25 points after the first round. After the semifinals, Fritze was sixth with 238.55 points and Breitweser was 11th with 197.05 points to advance while Walsh tied for 17th with 152.70 points.

     Behrens (11th in 1:01.68) and Huot (12th in 1:01.75) reached the consolation finals in the 100 butterfly while Sathre had the fastest time of 52.85. Bradley Graham was 16th in 1:05.58 and James Utke finished 26th in 1:08.89.

     The Panthers didn’t advance anyone to the finals in the 100 freestyle as Hunter Utke finished 20th in 54.08, Bateman was 21st in 55.06, Sam Eystad took 22nd in 55.59 and Tim Walsh was 25th in 56.90. Melrose/Sauk Centre’s Ben Heller took first in 49.12.


     Matthew Benson had the fastest preliminary time in the 500 freestyle with a 5:04.77 while Marcus Benson (14th in 5:31.75) and Graham (15th in 5:32.44) also advanced. Jack Walsh took 25th in 5:51.38.

     Spencer Fritze (22.87), Hunter Utke (23.76), Eystad (24.85) and Matthew Benson (23.25) finished fifth in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:34.73. Sartell was first in 1:30.31.

     In the 100 backstroke, Simonson was third in 58.39 while Tim Walsh (12th in 1:02.88) and Marcus Benson (14th in 1:03.26) advanced to the consolation finals. Dockendorf led the way with a 54.17.

     Hunter Utke (ninth in 1:07.14) and Kaleb Carlson (10th in 1:07.70) advanced to the consolation finals in the 100 breaststroke while Breitweser took 21st in 1:11.42. Alexandria’s Nic Chromey was first in 1:00.39.

     Behrens (54.17), Eystad (56.81), Bateman (55.84) and Simonson (54.22) combined for a sixth-place time of 3:41.14 in the 400 freestyle relay. Sartell led the field with a 3:19.80.


Panthers qualify in five events

     The medley relay got the Panthers off to a solid start during Saturday’s finals.


     Simonson’s 27.44 in the backstroke, Spencer Fritze’s 28.34 in the breaststroke, Matthew Benson’s 24.90 in the butterfly and Hunter Utke’s 23.23 in the freestyle led the Panthers to a fifth-place time of 1:43.91 for 28 points. Sartell set a section record with a 1:39.65.

     Matthew Benson followed by placing third in 1:49.35 for 16 points in the 200 freestyle as Sathre led the way with a 1:44.68 to break the section record.

     In the 200 individual medley, Behrens (11th in 2:17.62) and Simonson (12th in 2:18.15) scored 11 points while Chromey won the section title with a section record of 2:01.70.

     Spencer Fritze scored 14 points in the 50 freestyle with a fifth-place time of 22.70. Raitz broke the section record with a 21.36.

     In diving, Spencer Fritze claimed the final state berth by placing fourth with 344.70 points while Breitweser finished 12th with 272.50 points as the Panthers scored 20 points in that event. Detroit Lakes’ Zane Freeman won the section title with 421.45 points.

     Sathre won the section title in the 100 butterfly in 51.68 to break the section record while Huot took 11th in 1:00.96 and Behrens was 16th in 1:04.52 to add 7 points to the Panthers’ total.

     After Alexandria’s Brady Wolkow won the section title in the 100 freestyle in 48.66, Matthew Benson won the section title in the 500 freestyle in 5:00.69. Marcus Benson took 12th in 5:26.95 and Graham was 16th in 5:35.90 as Park Rapids scored 26 points in that race.

     Park Rapids added 26 points to the team total by placing sixth in the 200 freestyle relay. Spencer Fritze clocked a 22.96, Hunter Utke went 23.12, Eystad had a 24.38 split and Matthew Benson went 22.96 for a 1:33.42. Fergus Falls broke the section record with a 1:29.16.


     Simonson just missed qualifying for state by placing fourth in the 100 backstroke in 58.08. Dockendorf was first in 54.14 while Tim Walsh (15th in 1:04.78) and Marcus Benson (16th in 1:05.33) helped add 18 points to the Panthers’ team score.

     Chromey broke the section record in the 100 breaststroke in 58.82 while Hunter Utke (ninth in 1:06.17) and Carlson (10th in 1:07.74) scored 16 points for the Panthers.

     Behrens (54.15), Eystad (55.28), Bateman (54.18) and Simonson (55.33) ended the meet by teaming up for a sixth-place time of 3:38.94 in the 400 freestyle relay. Fergus Falls won the section title with a record time of 3:16.98.

     Entering the state meet, the 200 medley relay team is seeded No. 18 out of 26 qualifiers, Benson is seeded No. 16 out of 22 qualifiers in the 200 freestyle and No. 14 out of 24 qualifiers in the 500 freestyle, and Fritze is seeded No. 24 out of 27 qualifiers in the 50 freestyle.

     The top seeds are St. Thomas Academy (1:37.23) in the 200 medley relay, Thomas Weiss of St. Thomas Academy in the 200 freestyle (1:42.07), Raitz in the 50 freestyle and Warren Sexson of St. Thomas Academy in the 500 freestyle (4:44.55).


Team scores: Sartell-St. Stephen 494, Alexandria 341, Fergus Falls 292, Melrose/Sauk Centre 282, Bemidji 261, Park Rapids 208, Detroit Lakes 132, Perham 82, Thief River Falls 47, Morris 46.



Individual results

200 medley relay: 1, Sartell, 1:39.65. 2, Alexandria, 1:40.12. 3, Fergus Falls, 1:40.23. 4, Melrose, 1:41.59. 5, Park Rapids (Simonson, S. Fritze, Mat. Benson, H. Utke), 1:43.91.

200 freestyle: 1, S. Sathre, S, 1:44.68. 2, Heller, MSC, 1:46.95. 3, Mat. Benson, PR, 1:49.35. 25, J. Walsh, PR, 2:10.53.

200 individual medley: 1, Chromey, A, 2:01.70. 2, M. Sathre, S, 2:03.09. 3, Dockendorf, S, 2:04.14. 11,  Behrens, PR, 2:17.62. 12, Simonson, PR, 2:18.15. 22, Huot, PR, 2:25.32. 23, J. Utke, PR, 2:26.02.

50 freestyle: 1, Raitz, FF, 21.36. 2, Yartz, B, 22.03. 3, Plemel, S, 22.28. 4, Kadlee, S, 22.56. 5, S. Fritze, PR, 22.70. 20, Bateman, PR, 24.54. 22, Z. Fritze, PR, 24.78.

Diving: 1, Freeman, DL, 421.45 points. 2, Neubauer, FF, 356.25. 3, Grove, A, 349.70. 4, S. Fritze, PR, 344.70. 12, Breitweser, PR, 272.50. 17 (tie), D. Walsh, PR, 152.70.

100 butterfly: 1, S. Sathre, S, 51.68. 2, Warzecha, MSC, 53.56. 3, Stark, S, 54.54. 4, Coleman, S, 55.53. 11, Huot, PR, 1:00.86. 16, Behrens, PR, 1:04.52. 18, Graham, PR, 1:05.58. 26, J. Utke, PR, 1:08.89.

100 freestyle: 1, Wolkow, A, 48.66. 2, Heller, MSC, 49.07. 3, Yartz, B, 49.25. 4, Plemel, S, 49.45. 5, Mouritsen, FF, 49.56. 20, H. Utke, PR, 54.08. 21, Bateman, PR, 55.06. 22, Eystad, PR, 55.59. 25, T. Walsh, PR, 56.90.

500 freestyle: 1, Mat. Benson, PR, 5:00.69. 2, Chromey, A. 5:03.98. 3, Saxton, S, 5:07.25. 12, Mar. Benson, PR, 5:26.95. 16, Graham, PR, 5:35.90. 25. J. Walsh, PR, 5:51.38.

200 freestyle relay: 1, Fergus Falls, 1:29.16. 2, Sartell, 1:29.67. 3, Melrose, 1:30.64. 6, Park Rapids (S. Fritze, H. Utke, Eystad, Mat. Benson), 1:33.42.

100 backstroke: 1, Dockendorf, S, 54.14. 2, Schreiner, MSC, 55.33. 3, Wolkow, A, 56.72. 4, Simonson, PR, 58.08. 15, T. Walsh, PR, 1:04.78. 16, Mar. Benson, PR, 1:05.33.

100 breaststroke: 1, Chromey, A, 58.82. 2, Schumacher, S, 1:00.70. 3, Kowalski, FF, 1:01.89. 9, H. Utke, PR, 1:06.17. 10, Carlson, PR, 1:07.74. 21, Breitweser, PR, 1:11.42.

400 freestyle relay: 1, Fergus Falls, 3:16.98. 2, Sartell, 3:17.60. 3, Melrose, 3:17.82. 6, Park Rapids (Behrens, Eystad, Bateman, Simonson), 3:38.94.

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