Eden Prairie had what head coach Kelly Boston referred to as "one of the most dominant" team performances she's seen, as her team cruised to its second consecutive Class 2A state title Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
The Eagles had three individual state titles, two relay victories and nine total top-three finishes. Their final tally of 344 points was 107 more than second-place Edina. Minnetonka was third at 177.5 points.
"We're extremely happy," Boston said. "We had a great meet, what we wanted to do."
Boston's son, Bryce, won the 100-yard butterfly, and senior Aaron Greenberg successfully defended his state titles in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races. Greenberg also led off Eden Prairie's winning 200-yard medley relay.
"They were all tough races, but to see these results is just outstanding," Greenberg said of his team.
Lucas sets state record
Just how good was the Class AA 500-yard freestyle final? Lakeville South junior Mitch Herrera bested the Class AA state record by more than three-10ths of a second -- and he finished fourth.
In one of the fastest races in the history of the state meet, Mounds View senior Noah Lucas set a state record -- for any sanctioned meet, regardless of class -- of 4:26.47, shattering the old mark of 4:28.00 that dates to 1995.
The next two finishers, Eden Prairie's Jonathan Lieberman and Edina's Erick Huft, finished in 4:26.78 and 4:27.61, respectively.
"It was just crazy," Lucas said. "I've had some fast races, but that was definitely unique."
"Heart-breaking" was the word Herrera used to sum it up -- although he said it's hard to be disappointed.
"They're all fast guys," he said, still a little shocked that his 3:31.32 was only good for fourth.
"That's my lifetime best, so I can't complain."
For Lucas, it was just part of a record-breaking night. The North Dakota-bound senior also broke the all-time state record in the 200-yard freestyle, topping Lieberman, Huft and Herrera once again. Lucas' new mark of 1:37.30 was more than a full second ahead of the old record of 1:38.35.
"I definitely wasn't expecting these times," Lucas said. "I mean, I was hoping to break them, but to do it like this is pretty awesome."
STA wins title again
The way St. Thomas Academy coach John Barnes saw it, the Class A finals were simply going to be a numbers game.
And doing the math Saturday, Barnes liked his team's odds.
"You get in those positions, and in theory, the points will take care of themselves," he said. "We told the kids that Friday was when we were going to win this meet, and [Saturday], we could just have fun."
Well, it certainly looked enjoyable, as the Cadets took full advantage of their considerable depth -- 16 individuals and three relay teams -- to post a score of 263 points, good for a 72.5-point victory over runner-up Monticello. Breck/Blake finished third with 177 points.
It was the Cadets' second consecutive title, the school's 11th in the past 15 years.
"It feels great," senior Luke Schneeman said. "We came out and placed well and did what we had to do."
Schneeman earned the lone individual state title for St. Thomas, winning the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.21 seconds.
He also finished second in the 50-yard freestyle and anchored two relays that both finished second.
While the Cadets took home the hardware, Monticello senior Paul Fair stole the show. For the third year in a row, Fair took home four first-place medals, winning the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly Saturday, while anchoring team victories in both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Fair finished his high school career with 12 state titles.
"It's hard for us to beat a team like St. Thomas," Fair said. "We were just looking to get as close as we could, and we're pretty happy with it."
Batemen bests buddy
A year ago, Hutchinson's Cole Bateman finished runner-up to Mitchell Foster of Breck/Blake in the 100-yard backstroke. Not much of a disappointment, considering that's how every race seems to end between the two friendly rivals.
"Ever since eighth grade, I've always been the runner-up," Bateman said.
That is, until Saturday, when Bateman set a Class A meet record with a time of 49.32 seconds, beating Foster, the two-time defending champ in the event, by 0.62 seconds to capture his second state title of the day.
"I'm just ecstatic," said Bateman, who also won the 50-yard freestyle.
"It feels great to finally beat him."