by Jason Olson
Once again Anoka emerged with the top program in Section 7AA’s True Team-format meet at Northdale Middle School Jan. 14.
The Tornadoes out swam Forest Lake by 137.5 points and 210 points ahead of third-place Blaine to earn the right to compete in the Class AA State True Team meet at the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center Jan. 20-21.
Andover finshed fourth with 918 points and Coon Rapids was at the bottom in seventh place with 383 points, 138 points behind sixth-place Duluth East.
Anoka won five of the 12 events, sweeping the top two spots three times and second and third places an additional two times to rake up team points.
The True Team format scores one team point for every finisher with a win matching the number of competitors. First place in individual events garners 28 points, while last place receives one team point.
Anoka came into the meet a bit weary after an intense practice the day before.
“Some of the boys were not very happy with me on the night before the meet,” Anoka coach John Jacobson said. “I had to remind them that all the teams are practicing hard right now and that our goal is to also do well at the end of the year.”
Those hard feelings quickly went away after winning so many blue, red and white ribbons and, most important, the championship trophy.
“We had some great swims from some of our younger swimmers and I’m hoping our top swimmers are saving their best times for the weekend,” Jacobson said.
Anoka took two-of-three relays, including the 200 and 400 freestyles, while Duluth East opened the meet by winning the 200 medley in a time of 1:44.99 to the Tornadoes 1:46.12. Anoka picked up plenty of team points in the opening event as the four Tornadoes relays squads finished in the top 10 spots to garner 180 team points.
Tornadoes sophomores Cole Birklid and Josh Gerick finished one-two in the 200 free in times of 1:47.85 and 156.22 to score 55 team points from those spots.
Gerick led teammate Nick Hedman in another one-two finish for Anoka in the 100 butterfly. Gerick posted a winning time of 58.62, while Hedman finished in 58.87 seconds.
Birklid led freshman teammate Matt Hedman to win the 500 free in 4:49.84 compared with the runner-up finish of 5:04.42.
Anoka freshmen Matt Hedman and Mike Rosier finished second-third in the 200 individual medley, the third event of the afternoon, in 2:06.37 and 2:13.82, less than a half second behind Duluth East senior Joe Vecchi’s winning time of 2:05.75.
Another second-third place finish for the Tornadoes came in the 100 breaststroke when Taylor Dubois finished runner-up to Duluth East’s Joe Vecchi in 1:04.30 and Nick Hedman garnered third place in 1:07.00 followed by Andover’s Tyler Dettmann in fourth place with a 1:07.50.
Greyhounds senior teammate Derek Jones won the 50 free in 22.99 seconds to edge Andover senior Nick Weast’s time of 23.02.
Andover sophomore Jack Rodman finished runner-up in the 100 backstroke in 58.96, trailing only Forest Lake’s Erik Klein. Anoka’s Jake Thacker was third in 1:00.52 and Blaine eighth-grader Alex Polansky was fifth in 1:00.82.
Blaine diver Sam Leverton won the diving title with 437.35 points with Anoka rival Brent Verke runner up with 403.50 points and Coon Rapids senior John R. DeJong third with 319.55 points.
Blaine junior Austin Bongers finished third in the 100 free in 52.08 seconds, while Andover’s Brady Malecha was fourth in 52.65 and Anoka’s Alex Kvidera was fifth in 54.01.
Three days later, Anoka was back in Northwest Suburban Conference competition as it handed Champlin Park a 100-75 defeat.