Minnetonka won its first boys’ swimming and diving state title in 1978. Since then, the Skippers have won nine more. Among those state titles, the most recent stands out.
At last year’s state meet, the Skippers broke meet records in four events to earn their first Class 2A state title since 2011.
“Last year was one of the best seasons in school history,” Minnetonka coach Dan Berve said. “The state meet was an incredibly fast meet. It was fun and exciting — and not just for us. It was fun to be a part of.”
When the state meet opens Thursday at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, the Skippers will be looking for more fun and their first back-to-back state titles since 1996 and 1997.
Last year’s team was experienced, led by Sam Schilling, who won two events, and Corey Lau, who won one event. Eight of the Skippers’ 11 swims in the championship finals were by seniors. Of the 17 individuals who scored points for the team at the meet, 11 were seniors.
“We definitely have a new group compared to last year,” Berve said. “This team has done a great job of creating its own identity. We’ve got a great senior class this year, and we’ve got some young guys who qualified for the state meet for the first time.”
At last week’s Section 2 meet, the Skippers qualified all three relay teams and 16 individuals for the state meet. Seniors Erik Gessner and John Shelstad lead the No. 1-ranked Skippers. Gessner took first place and Shelstad second in the 100 butterfly at the section meet. Gessner also qualified for the state meet in the 100 backstroke, Shelstad in the 200 individual medley.
At last year’s state meet, Gessner was fourth in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, while Shelstad was runner-up in the 200 individual medley and third in the 100 freestyle.
“We’re excited about the 100 butterfly. It could be a big event for us,” Berve said. “Eric and John are seeded one-two in the event.”
During the regular season, Shelstad had the state’s top time in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke and was in the top four in three other events (100 butterfly, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle). Gessner had the top time in the 100 butterfly and fourth-best time in the 100 backstroke.
One underclassmen qualifying for state for the first time was sophomore John Wargin, who won the 100 breaststroke and also qualified by standard in the 200 individual medley.
“John and Eric have really stepped into leadership roles,” Berve said. “The team has handled the season well. They’re optimistic and ready to go.”