Two swimmers who have dominated the Class 1A boys' swimming and diving state meet recently took the first step to defending their state titles on Friday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Breck/Blake's Mitchell Foster, the defending champion in the 200 individual medley and a three-time champion in the 100 backstroke, and Monticello's Paul Fair, the two-time defending champion in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, each advanced to Saturday's finals.
But Foster and Fair both will face tough competition.
Foster, who entered the meet with the top qualifying time in the 200 individual medley, swam the third-best time (1:57.95) in Friday's preliminaries. Richfield's Andy Petersen (1:56.90) and Eric Dahlseng of Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield (1:57.48) had better heat times. Foster won the event last year with a time of 1:53.27. Petersen finished third last year.
In the 100 backstroke preliminaries, Foster swam a 51.70. Hutchinson's Cole Bateman swam a 49.70. Foster won the event last year with a Class 1A state meet record time of 49.34. Bateman was second with a 49.86.
Foster also swam a leg on Breck/Blake's 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams, which advanced to Saturday's finals. Breck/Blake's 200 freestyle relay also advanced to the championship round.
"We held him back a little today," said Breck/Blake coach Kris Rosenberg. "He'll be ready to go. They should be good, close races."
Fair and Red Wing's Tanner Alms tied for the top time (1:43.07) in the 200 freestyle preliminaries. Fridley's Colter Allen had the third-best time (1:44.45). Alms, the two-time defending champion in the 500 freestyle, also had the top qualifying time (4:40.14) in the 500 preliminaries.
Allen swam the top time (50.85) in the 100 butterfly preliminaries. Fair had the second-best time (51.20).
Fair set Class 1A state meet records in both events -- 1:40.75 in the 200 freestyle and 49.35 in the 100 butterfly -- at last year's state meet. Allen was second in the 100 butterfly last year.
"Paul has good competition in both races," said Monticello coach Dirk Westveer. "Top swimmers are at their best when they have good competition. Hopefully we'll get a good night's rest and come back tomorrow and do our best."
Fair also swam legs on Monticello's 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams. Monticello, the two-time defending state champion in each event, had the top time in 200 preliminaries and the second-best time (to St. Thomas Academy) in the 400 preliminaries.
Schneeman leads STA
St. Thomas Academy's Luke Schneeman had the top qualifying time in the 50 freestyle (21.14) and the 100 freestyle (47.09) and swam the anchor leg on the Cadets' advancing 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams.
The Cadets, the defending Class 1A champion, sent four swimmers to the 500 freestyle championship finals.
Eagles set records
Eden Prairie opened and closed the Class 2A preliminaries in style by setting records in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.
The 200 medley team of Aaron Greenberg, Griffin Back, Bryce Boston and Mike Solfelt opened Friday's preliminaries with a time of 1:32.18 to break the record of 1:33.31 set by Minnetonka in 1991. It was the oldest state meet record.
Greenberg, Boston, Solfelt and Jonathan Lieberman teamed up in the 400 freestyle relay to swim a 3:04.10 to break the all-time state record of 3.04.68, set by Edina in 2010.
Greenberg, the defending Class 2A state champion in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, had the top qualifying times in each event for Saturday's finals. Greenberg swam a 20.76 in the 50 freestyle and 45.59 in the 100 freestyle.
Mounds View's Noah Lucas, the defending Class 2A champion in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, had the top time in the 200 preliminaries and the second-best time in the 500 freestyle.
In the 200, Lucas swam a 1:39.06. Lieberman (1:41.30) had the second-best time and Lakeville South's Mitch Herrera (1:41.55) had the third-best time.
Herrera had the best time (4:33.77) in the 500 preliminaries. Lucas swam a 4:34.07, while Lieberman swam a 4:34.61.
Daniel Monaghan of Rosemount leads the qualifiers for Saturday's Class 2A diving finals with a score of 295.60. Hill-Murray's Joe McGrath leads the Class 1A qualifiers with a score of 283.15.