Swimmers counting on another solid year

Despite having to replace several key swimmers and divers, Todd Fritze is looking forward to another successful season from the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team.

Senior leaders
Providing leadership for the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team this season will be seniors (from left) Matt Konshok, Tyler Breitweser and Andrew Zinke.

     Despite having to replace several key swimmers and divers, Todd Fritze is looking forward to another successful season from the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team.

     The Panthers have some key spots to fill with the graduation of Connor Smythe, Spencer Adolphson, Kurt Fritze, Iain Wallace, Kalvin Hagan, Calvin Bateman and Nathan Rak. Those seven led the Panthers to a 3-1-1 record in dual meets, a runner-up showing at the Mid-State Conference meet and sixth place at the Section 5A meet.

     Smythe qualified for the state Class A meet in two events, placing 11th in the 100 freestyle and 14th in the 100 backstroke with school-record times. Smythe led the team with 371 points, Adolphson was fourth with 285 points, Fritze was fifth with 282 points and Wallace was ninth with 157.50 points. Hagan (137.50), Bateman (76.50) and Rak (60.50) also played key roles for the Panthers last season.

     Smythe also ranks No. 4 in school history in the 200 individual medley, Hagan broke the school record for 11 dives and ranks No. 4 for six dives while Fritze ranks No. 7 for 11 dives and No. 10 for six dives.

     Returning to lead the Panthers this season are the 12 swimmers and divers who competed at last year’s Section 5A meet. That group features seniors Tyler Breitweser, Matt Konshok and Andrew Zinke; junior Hunter Utke; sophomores Sam Eystad and Tim Walsh; freshmen Zach Behrens, Matt Benson, Bradley Graham, Sam Huot and Casmir Simonson; and eighth grader Spencer Fritze.


     Benson was second in points with 314 and Konshok was third with 285.50 points. Breitweser (269.50), Spencer Fritze (259), Behrens (205.50), Utke (157), Graham (153), Simonson (141), Huot (131.50), Zinke (117.50) and Eystad (115) also scored more than 100 points last season. Walsh finished with 69.50 points.

     Also back after scoring points on the varsity last season are junior Jordan Raidt (16.50 points); sophomores Jack Bateman (76.50), Kaleb Carlson (18), Steve Wattenhofer (9) and Jack Walsh (68.50); freshmen James Utke (56.50) and Peter Vanbatavia (21.50); and eighth grader Seth Breitweser (15.50).

     Rounding out this year’s varsity and junior varsity will be freshman Kevin Rugroden, eighth grader Zach Fritze, and seventh graders Dominik Backmann, Marcus Benson and Dan Walsh.

     “We lost a third of our team, but we have a good core group back,” said Fritze, who will be assisted by Erin Foley and Kristi Smythe. “I’m excited about the season.”

     At last year’s section meet, the Panthers scored points in all 12 events. Returning after competing in the finals are Matt Benson (fourth in the 500 freestyle), Spencer Fritze and Konshok (fifth in the 200 freestyle relay), Konshok (fifth in the 200 medley relay and eighth in the 50 freestyle), Tyler Breitweser (seventh in diving), and Behrens and Benson (seventh in the 400 freestyle relay).

     Competing in the consolation finals were Benson in the 200 freestyle (11th), Simonson in the 200 individual medley (16th) and 100 backstroke (12th), Spencer Fritze in diving (15th), Huot in the 100 butterfly (15th), Konshok in the 100 freestyle (14th), Graham in the 500 freestyle (12th), Tyler Breitweser in the 100 backstroke (ninth), and Hunter Utke in the 100 breaststroke (12th).

     Also back after competing at the section meet are Behrens (19th) and Eystad (24th) in the 200 freestyle, Huot (21st) and Graham (22nd) in the 200 individual medley, Spencer Fritze in the 50 freestyle (17th), Zinke in the 100 butterfly (21st), Behrens (19th) and Hunter Utke (21st) in the 100 freestyle, Eystad in the 500 freestyle (19th), and Tim Walsh in the 100 backstroke (18th).

     At the conference meet, Spencer Fritze and Konshok swam on the runner-up 200 medley relay team while Spencer Fritze, Benson and Konshok swam on the runner-up 200 freestyle relay team. Benson also took second in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Placing third for the Panthers to also earn all-conference honorable mention honors were Simonson, Tyler Breitweser and Hunter Utke in the 200 medley relay; Hunter Utke, Jack Bateman and Behrens in the 200 freestyle relay; and Benson and Tyler Breitweser in the 400 freestyle relay.


     With 20 swimmers back from a year ago and the addition of some new swimmers, Fritze is looking for the Panthers to continue being competitive in dual meets and closing the gap on the top teams in the section.

     “We started turning the corner the last couple of years. We’ve gotten better and have moved up in the section,” said Fritze. “I expect more of the same this year. It’s a slow process, but we’re heading in the right direction. We’re going to be all right.”

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