It didn’t finish first in a single individual event Saturday, but Eagan won the race that mattered: The Wildcats won the Class 2A boys’ swimming title, the first in the school’s history.
“Pretty good day,” said Eagan coach Chris Morgan, after his team accepted its first-place trophy. “We came in knowing that every single swim had to be good. With zero first places, to win by that margin … the whole team helped out.”
Eagan won the meet with 226 points, beating Minnetonka by 16 at the Jean Freeman Aquatic Center. Eden Prairie finished third.
Even without individual titles, Eagan had some noteable finishes. Senior Sam Zenner took third in the 50 freestyle, freshman Max Stigman placed 12th in the 100 breaststroke, senior Eli Broman placed 10th in the 200 IM and Parker Lemke took sixth in the 200 freestyle and second in the 100 backstroke. Eagan earned second, third and fourth in the three relays.
“Every point counts,” Morgan said. “Everybody scores points.”
Withers flies to record
Eden Praire freshman Joshua Withers set a 2A record in the 100 fly in 48.88 seconds, shattering the record of 49.17 set by Chad Krastins of Apple in 1998. Withers swam 49.37 in the prelims.
“I wasn’t sure how much faster I’d go,” he said. “I was definitely hoping for a 48.9. But 48.8 was definitely amazing.”
That time gave him his first state title. The freshman talked about what he’s already learned in his first year swimming. He gets more “psyched up” before races, and he enjoys training more than the races, because that’s how you win, he said.
“Maybe next year I can go for that all-time record,” Withers said.
Eden Prairie junior Griffin Back won back-to-back titles in the 200 IM, with a 1:49.79.
East Ridge senior James Tidd beat his prelim time in the 50 freestyle, with a 20.28 in the final for a second consecutive title. Tidd also won the 100 freestyle in 45.0. That time was just slightly slower than the meet-record 44.93 he put up in the prelims.
Maple Grove senior Brenner Hohenstein also came in with another vicotry in the 100 breaststroke. His time of 56.08 beat Back to the wall by .02 seconds.
“I knew that it was very close,” Hohenstein said.
Tommies make it four
St. Thomas Academy coach John Barnes preaches three things to his swimmers as they fought from Day 1 for their goal of another state title.
“Talent is nice, but if you have heart, emotion and passion, you can go a long way,” he said.
Maybe it was a combination of everything that helped St. Thomas set three Class 1A records on its way to a fourth consecutive, and 14th overall, 1A boys’ swimming and diving state title. The team’s 415.5 points were just shy of last year’s 417.
The Breck/Blake team finished second with 287 points, followed by Faribault with 158.
The Cadets started and ended the day with record-breaking splashes in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.
Senior Sam Johanns, sophomore William Mayleben, sophomore Tommy Weiss and junior Mac Brown notched a time of 1: 34.09 in the 200 medley, breaking the old record of 1:34.83 set by Breck/Blake in 2012.
St. Thomas also won this event last year, with Johanns and Weiss.
Hunter Nielsen, Weiss, Warren Sexson and Johanns broke a St. Thomas Academy record from 2002 with their 3:07.23 in the 400 free relay.
In addition to the winning relays, St. Thomas also had two individual champions. Weiss won the 200 freestyle in 1:41.13, edging out Simley junior Michel Modica’s 1:41.92.
“We’ve been pushing each other all season,” Weiss said, on competing with Modica.
Sexson won the 500 freestyle and set a Class 1A record with a 4:36.07. The previous record was 4:36.73 from 2013.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the record until yesterday,” said Sexson, who swam 4:40.97 in the prelims. “I was just focused on winning my meet.”
Runner-up no more
Chaska senior Sean Donnelly took home second in last year’s 100 breaststroke and third in the 50 freestyle, despite being seeded No. 1.
This year, he left with two first-place medals. He won the 50 freestyle in 20.84 and just touched the wall ahead of Weiss (50.46) in the 100 fly with a 50.22. The race with Weiss helped Donnelly drop some more time, he said.
“We were both neck and neck, so I just kind of put my head down and went for it,” Donnelly said. “I wasn’t sure who registered first.”
Repeat in breaststroke
After setting a state record in the prelims, Humphrey Pruett, a senior for Breck/Blake, successfully defended his title in the 100 breaststroke in 55.61.