Boys Swimming and Diving: Park Rapids excels at state meet
The Panthers score points in five events, highlighted by Isaac Zinniel earning all-state honors with a runner-up finish in the 50-yard freestyle.
MINNEAPOLIS – It was an exceptional performance by the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team at the state Class A meet.
Four of Park Rapids’ five senior state qualifiers advanced to the finals with Jordan Odor and Isaac Zinniel breaking school records during the diving preliminaries and the swimming preliminaries at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Thursday and Friday, March 2-3.
The Panthers capped off a successful season with Zinniel earning all-state honors in the 50-yard freestyle while placing 16th in the team standings with 43 points during the finals on Saturday, March 4.
Zinniel claimed runner-up honors in the 50 freestyle by breaking his own school record with a 21.26 to score 17 points. Odor just missed earning all-state honors by placing ninth in diving with 334.25 points for 9 points. Zinniel scored 6 points by placing 11th in the 100 butterfly in 53.24. The 200 freestyle relay team of Odor, Cameron Runyan, Matt Lichter and Zinniel placed 14th in 1:32.32 to score 6 points. Odor scored the final 5 points by placing 12th in the 200 freestyle in 1:48.53.
“I was extremely impressed with the focus and eagerness to perform well down at the state meet. Their drive to make it back to the second day really helped in securing five events in Day 2. They were ready to rock and roll both days, leading to such a great team finish,” said Park Rapids head coach Megan Rykhus. “I could not be more proud of all the boys' performances this weekend. The boys had a positive attitude all weekend and were excited to have a lane to race in for each event. Finishing 16th as a team overall was the cherry on top.”
Solid first day
Having exceptional performances during the preliminaries set the tone for an exceptional state meet.
Odor qualified for the finals in diving during the prelims on Thursday. Odor finished seventh with 166.80 points after his first five dives and was in ninth place with 244.50 points after his next three dives in the semifinals to qualify for the finals. Sauk Rapids’ Hayden Zabinski was first out of 24 divers after the preliminaries with 191.85 points while Chisago Lakes’ Jimmy Nord was the leader out of 20 divers after the semifinals with 311.35 points.
The Panthers failed to advance in the 200 medley relay by placing 18th out of 22 teams in 1:42.67. Odor led off with a 25.68 split in the backstroke, Pierce DeBlieck clocked a 30.52 in the breaststroke, Zinniel followed with a 23.24 split in the butterfly and Runyan anchored with a 23.23 split in the freestyle. That relay team clocked a 1:42.85 at the Section 5A meet to advance to state. Breck/Blake took first with a 1:33.42. Odor, Runyan and Zinniel were members of that relay team that placed 23rd in 1:46.30 at last year’s state meet.
Odor broke the school record to reach the consolation finals in the 200 freestyle. Odor had 50-yard splits of 23.76, 27.07, 28.48 and 38.90 for a 1:48.21 to finish 12th out of 24 state qualifiers and break Marcus Benson’s school record of 1:48.31 set in 2020. Odor dropped time from his 1:49.75 at the section meet. Breck/Blake’s Henry Webb had the fastest preliminary time of 1:39.20.
Zinniel followed by breaking his own school record and advancing to the finals in the 50 freestyle. Zinniel finished fourth out of 24 swimmers during preliminaries with a 21.45 to top his school record of 21.50 set during the section meet. Hutchinson’s Conner Hogan led the field with a 20.52.
In the 100 butterfly, Zinniel just missed advancing to the finals by placing ninth out of 26 qualifiers in 53.27. Zinniel was in sixth place with a 24.24 after the first 50 and ended up claiming the first spot in the consolation finals with a 29.03 split during the second 50. Zinniel’s time was an improvement from his 53.38 clocked at the section meet and was just shy of Jonah Winter’s school record of 53.04 set in 2004. St. Anthony’s James McCarthy took first in 49.83.
The 200 freestyle relay team earned a spot in the consolation finals by taking 13th out of 22 teams in 1:32.14. Odor (22.98 split), Runyan (23.29), Lichter (24.89) and Zinniel (20.98) improved on their section time of 1:32.40 to advance. Breck/Blake finished first in 1:26.12.
Excelling in finals
The Panthers followed with another impressive showing during Saturday’s finals.
Odor clocked splits of 24.03, 27.35, 28.61 and 28.54 for a 1:48.53 in the 200 freestyle. Webb won the state title in 1:38.14.
Zinniel contended for a state title in the 50 freestyle, clocking a 21.26 to trail only Hogan’s winning time of 20.21, and followed by clocking a 53.24 to place 11th in the 100 butterfly. Zinniel was in first place in the consolation finals by opening with a split of 24.14 before following with a 29.10 split in the second 50. Hogan also won the state title in the 100 butterfly with a 48.93.
Odor scored 89.75 points on his final dives to place ninth with 334.25 points. Nord won the state title with 442.00 points. Odor, who advanced to state by scoring 357.15 points at the section meet, placed 24th with 116.90 points at last year’s state meet.
The 200 freestyle relay capped off the meet by placing 14th in 1:32.32 behind splits of 22.91 by Odor, 23.12 by Runyan, 24.96 by Lichter and 21.33 by Zinniel. Breck/Blake clocked a 1:25.27 to top the field. Odor, Runyan and Zinniel swam on that relay team that placed 20th in 1:33.15 at last year’s state meet.
Breck/Blake won the team title with 408 points with St. Thomas Academy following with 204 points. Section 5A champion Alexandria was fifth with 148 points, Melrose/Sauk Centre took 20th with 34 points and Fergus Falls was 32nd with 1 point.
“Isaac was focused and didn't back down throughout all his races leading to his success. He swam around a lot this season to find his niche and I would say without a doubt he was right where he should be,” said Rykhus. “Jordan dove incredibly well and stayed mentally tough to swim and then having to rush over to diving. The relays continued to race well and the 200 freestyle relay was no different. As a relay full of seniors who I have been able to watch grow from little 7th grade swimmers to the athletes they are now was very bittersweet for us all.”