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Panthers qualify for state in six events

Senior Matt Benson qualified for the state Class A boys swimming meet in four events by swimming on the runner-up 200-yard medley relay team, placing fifth in the 100-yard freestyle, swimming on the third-place 200-yard freestyle relay team and swimming on the third-place 400-yard freestyle relay team during Saturday finals of the Section 5A meet at Alexandria.

It was another successful Section 5A meet for the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team Saturday at Alexandria.

The Panthers qualified six individuals in six events for the state Class A meet. Highlighting the section meet was having all three relays advance with five swimmers comprising those teams. Marcus Benson, Spencer Fritze, Zach Behrens and Matt Benson took second in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:39.52 (which was under the state-cut time of 1:43.16). Spencer Fritze, Zach Fritze, Behrens and Matt Benson clocked a 1:30.65 to place third in the 200 freestyle relay. That time was also under the state-cut time of 1:31.18. Matt Benson, Behrens, Marcus Benson and Spencer Fritze ended the meet with a third-place time of 3:21.33 in the 400 freestyle relay. That time also topped the cut time of 3:22.50.

Spencer Fritze also eanred a return trip to state in diving by winning the section title with 423.85 points. Matt Benson also qualified in the 100 freestyle by placing fifth with a 49.48, which just topped the state-cut time of 49.52. The Panthers also qualified two swimmers in the 100 backstroke as Marcus Benson earned a return trip in that event with a winning time of 54.09 while Thomas Williams tied for fourth with a 56.68 to top the cut time of 56.87.

The state Class A meet will begin Thursday with diving preliminaries starting at noon at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Swimming preliminaries will be held Friday starting at noon witih the top-eight finishers in each event advancing to Saturday's finals and the next eight qualilfying for Saturday's consolation finals.