Anoka boys’ swimming and diving repeated its Section 7AA True Team title with strong performances throughout the line-up, highlighted by captain Nick Hedman winning six events, the Tornadoes divers success and several meet records falling in the Northdale Middle School pool Jan. 19.
Jacobson pointed out the success diving coach Beth Overn has made to take middle-schoolers who lacked any previous experience coming into the winter season to score 76 team points in what turned out to be a very close team-title meet.
Anoka divers include Zach Allen, Zach Diaz, Danny Dobrocky and Myles Garric.
Not having divers gives the other teams a head start in the points race so when Anoka’s diving group scored 76 points, led by Allen, an eighth-grader who scored an eighth-place finish with 199.30 points to add 21 team points, followed by Bobrocky, a seventh-grader who scored 187.25 points to place ninth and add 20 team points to the total. Jacobson said that was the extra boost of motivation his team needed to power through a close meet.
Anoka edged Forest Lake by 96 points with 1,236.5 points to 1,140.5 points while Andover placed third with 923 points, Blaine was fourth with 911 and Coon Rapids rounded out the field with 413 points for a seventh place finish.
“Cole [Birklid] and Matt [Hedman] had a great meet and broke some section records but it’s really a big team effort by those 3-4 relays and swimmers who really stepped it up,” Anoka coach John Jacobson said who kept his strongest swimmers in their regular places instead of balancing out the relays to help add more team points. “It really gives them a little more confidence going into the end of the year [knowing they can comepete with the top swimmers in the section,” he said.
Among the records to fall was Anoka junior Cole Birklid who set a new pool and meet mark in the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 45.82 seconds, nearly five seconds ahead of teammate Josh Gerick who was runner-up, freshman teammate Caleb Birklid was fourth and senior John Kraemer was seventh to give the Tornadoes four swimmers inside the top seven places.
Birklid also won the 100 free in 48.52 seconds
Anoka sophomore Matt Hedman won the 200 Individual Medley in a meet-record time of two minutes, 2.06 seconds as Anoka garnered three swimmers inside the top five times. Matt Hedman was just over two seconds off his 500-free meet record set last season but still won the race in 4:51.62, edging runner-up Caleb Birklid.
Gerick won the 100 Butterfly in 57.29 seconds and Nick Hedman won the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.13.
This marks the final True Team section meet for senior Nick Hedman who joined the team as a seventh grader and hasn’t missed out on a state True Team meet. He’s one of four Anoka swimmers to go to the state meet each season.
Andover won the opening relay, the 200 medley with the foursome of Jack Rodman, John Gendreau, Tyler Behnke and John Kemp who held off Anoka to set a new meet-best time of 1:44.53. Rodman won the 100 backstroke in 57.85 seconds.
Anoka rebounded to win the final two relays in meet-record times. The Tornadoes team of Alex Kvidera, Nick Hedman, Matt Hedman and Cole Birklid won the 200 free in 1:32.30 and the team of Kvidera, Gerick, Matt Hedman and Cole Birklid came through in the final event in a record time of 3:21.53.
Blaine senior sprinter Austin Bongers won the 50 free in 22.60 seconds followed by Andover senior Cody Corthell in 23.45 and Kvidera third in 23.48. Bongers was runner-up in the 100 free, 1.02 seconds behind Cole Birklid.
Andover junior diver Ben Arnold took the one-meter title with 313.80 points, 27.45 points clear of Blaine sophomore Trenton Pittman. The Bengals had three divers inside the top five places as juniors Chandler Schahn and Ian Yang placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Blaine’s Alex Polansky placed second in the 100 backstroke in 59.90 seconds.
The Anoka wins comes after a perfect 4-0 run through its division of the Northwest Suburban Conference dual meets, which set up a championship dual meet against Maple Grove, Jan. 23 (before this edition went to press).
Jason Olson is at email@example.com