Anoka swims to sixth-place finish at Maroon and Gold Invite

by Jason Olson
Sports Editor

Anoka boys’ swimming and diving began 2012 with a 100-84 win over Elk River in Northwest Suburban Conference action Jan. 3.

That win was followed by a 103-78 loss to Lake Conference powerhouse Edina Jan. 6 before hitting the University of Minnesota pool the next day for the Maroon and Gold Invite.

Tornadoes coach John Jacobson said he told the team to think of the back-to-back days of competition like sections or state.

“It’s always tough mentally getting faster or diving better the next day,” he said. “The boys did swim great at Edina and many did do better again on Saturday.”

The Hornets didn’t score in the final two events, but before that point of the meet some Tornadoes held their ground against one of the top programs in the state.

The first varsity event, the 200-yard medley relay, was a prime example of how close Anoka is to competing with the top programs as the foursome of junior Nick Hedman, senior Taylor Dubois, freshman Matt Hedman and sophomore Cole Birklid turned in a runner-up time of 1:44.10 to Edina’s winning time of 1:43.99.

Birklid won the 200 free in 1:48.14, which was more than six seconds ahead of Edina’s top swimmer. He also won the 500 free in 4:52.31, more than seven seconds ahead of Matt Hedman and 26 seconds better than the nearest Hornets finisher.

Matt Hedman finished second in the 200 individual medley in 2:07.69, while Edina’s Mitch Lenz turned in a time of 2:04.80 to win the event. The Hornets swept the top three spots in the 50 free as Anoka senior Travis Weight finished fourth in 24.80 seconds.

Anoka sophomore Josh Gerick finished second in the 100 butterfly in 57.97 seconds and Nick Hedman was fourth in 1:00.01. Anoka junior Alex Kvidera placed third in the 100 free in 53.69 seconds.

Maroon and Gold

Anoka finished sixth in a field of 13 teams in the Maroon Division of the Maroon and Gold Invitational at the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center Jan. 7.

The Tornadoes scored 277 points, while Stillwater won the meet with 449 points, 18 points clear of St. Thomas Academy and 65 points ahead of Eau Claire Memorial/North (Wis.) for third place.

Mounds View placed fourth with 353.5 pints and Lakeville North was fifth with 351 points.

Jacobson looked at Anoka’s times across the other divisions and his team would have won the Tiger Division, placed fourth in the Bronze and ninth in the Gold Division.

Birklid and Matt Hedman turned in even faster times Saturday.

Birklid finished second in the 200 free with a time of 1:46.05 compared with Mounds View’s Noah Lucas, who won the race in 1:44.14, and Matt Hedman garnered seventh place in 1:51.89. Matt Hedman also dropped his time considerably to finish sixth in the 200 IM.

Birklid turned in a second-place finish in the 500 free to Lucas in a time of 4:48.92 to 4:42.02.

Nick Hedman placed sixth in the 200 IM in 2:06.86 and Gerrick was 14th in 2:11.60.

Nick Hedman also placed ninth in the 100 backstroke in 1:05.03, less than a second behind teammate Dubois, who finished in 1:04.40 to place eighth. Gerick was eighth in the 100 butterfly.

Anoka began the meet with a seventh-place finish in the 200 medley relay with the group of senior Jake Thacker, Dubois, Nick Hedman and Weight, who stopped the clock in 1:46.87.

The 200 free relay team of Matt Hedman, Weight, Kvidera and Birklid placed seventh in 1:34.40, just over a second behind Lakeville North’s team.

Anoka’s 400 free relay finished ninth in 3:28.78 with the team of Matt Hedman, Gerrick, Thacker and Birklid.

Anoka diver Brent Verke won the competition with 202.90 points to score 32 team points, despite missing the dual meet the night before against Edina because of being sick.