Tornadoes, Huskies, Bengals and Panthers are part of very a fast state swim meet

One of the fastest state swim meets in memory included Anoka, Andover and Blaine (Class AA) and Spring Lake Park (Class A) as a few meet and program records fell in the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center pool Feb. 28-March 2.

 Anoka’s Josh Gerick takes a breath during the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class AA State Meet at the University of Minnesota March 2.
Anoka’s Josh Gerick takes a breath during the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class AA State Meet at the University of Minnesota March 2.

Eden Prairie relays set two new records in the preliminaries (200 yard medley relay and 400 free relay) and two more records fell in the finals (200 and 500 free) both by Mounds View senior Noah Lucas.

Anoka coach John Jacobson said after talking with other coaches, they all agreed that it was one of the fastest if not the fastest state meets on record. The Tornadoes placed 15th with 46 team points among the 45 teams entered, while Blaine scored four team points, but Andover failed to collect any team points.

Anoka had two all-state swimmers, a designation which goes to the top eight place winners in each event.

Anoka sophomore Matt Hedman outraced junior teammate Cole Birklid in the 500 free final for sixth place. Hedman stopped the clock in 4:42.86, while Birklid finished in 4:43.32. Both were more than two seconds faster in the preliminaries – Hedman was 4:40.28 and Birklid was 4:40.82.

Matt Hedman was seventh in the 200 individual medley in 1:57.14 after posting a 1.56.70 in the preliminaries. Nick Hedman, a senior, placed 30th in the preliminaries in 2:03.49 and was 22nd in the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.03.

Cole Birklid placed ninth in the 200 free finals in 1:43.71; he was 0.04 away from seventh place.

Andover’s Cody Corthell swims the 100 free at the Class AA state meet.  Photos by Rick Orndorf
Andover’s Cody Corthell swims the 100 free at the Class AA state meet. Photos by Rick Orndorf

Anoka’s 400 free relay team of Matt Hedman, Josh Gerick, Caleb Birklid and Cole Birklid was disqualified in the finals after posting a 3:17.12 time in the preliminaries.

“The boys swam their hearts out only to find out there was a disqualification,” Jacobson said. “We didn’t see it and a video recording of the race showed that a lane next to us did jump, but the officials’ jobs are difficult especially when hundredths of a second are being measured.

“The relay team will be back, in fact, almost everyone will be back, ready to swim the incredible mileage needed to be stronger and faster next year.”

Gerick was 22nd in the 200 free preliminaries in 1:47.18 and 25th in the 100 fly preliminaries. Blaine sophomore Mazen Hammad was 33rd in 55.15.

Caleb Birklid was 22nd in the 500 free in 4:51.91, but did not make the finals.

The Tornadoes’ 200 free relay team of Alex Kvidera, Nick Hedman, Matt Hedman and Cole Birklid placed 20th in 1:30.61.

Blaine senior Austin Bongers collected two 15th-place finishes. He finished the 50 free in 22.01 seconds, 0.06 out of 14th place and less than one second behind second place. He also swam in the 100 free consolation final in 48.78 seconds.

Andover’s 200 medley relay team of Jack Rodman, John Gendreau, Tyler Behnke and Cody Corthell placed 25th in 1:42.74 in the preliminaries.

Rodman was 28th in the 100 back preliminaries in 55.77 and Corthell was 30th in the 100 free in 51.13.

Andover junior diver Ben Arnold scored a 22nd-place finish with 130.95 points in the preliminary round at the Class AA state diving competition. He was 1.30 points from a top 20 spot and a place in the semifinal round.

Blaine sophomore diver Trenton Pittman scored 129.60 points and was 23rd in the preliminaries.


Spring Lake Park scored 71 points to place 14th in the team standings among the 38 teams, highlighted by the 200 medley relay team of Leon Ding, Davin Sang, Mark Malinovskiy and Richard Kepner, which was eighth in the finals after posting a new school record (1:41.39) in the preliminary round.

Kepner turned in his best swim of the meet with a sixth-place finish in the 100 free finals, matching his preliminaries time of 47.95, another personal best.

Kepner narrowly missed out on a spot in the 200 free finals where he won the consolation final race in 1:46.20. He posted a personal best 1:46.13 in the preliminaries.

“He was a bit disappointed in not making the top eight, but it was his best time so there is nothing to be upset about, just a very fast event this season,” Panthers coach Greg Kugler said.

Ninth-grade diver Mitch Raihle collected a fourth-place finish in the one-meter diving event, scoring a personal best and All-American consideration score of 382.15 points.

He was 1.75 points out of third place and 15.10 points behind the champion, Hill-Murray senior Joe McGrath.

“The future looks bright for him as well as all of the returning guys for next year,” Kugler said.

The 400 free relay team of Trevor Mitchell, Malinovskiy, Richard Kepner and Ryan Kepner had an 11th place finish in 3:21.61. The foursome posted a new season low time of 3:21.30 in the preliminaries. “Again, the four guys had their best time of the season, so there was nothing to be upset about,” Kugler said.

Ryan Kepner was 26th in the 500 free preliminaries in 5:13.70. Sang was 25th in the 200 individual medley in 2:13.41 and 17th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.14, while Samuel Roden was 22nd in the event in 1:05.75. Malinowskiy was 24th in the 100 fly. Ding out swam Malinovskiy in the 100 back to finish 21st and 22nd places, respectively.

Sprinter Trevor Mitchell placed 18th in the 50 free in 22.72, 0.19 seconds away from the consolation round.

Spring Lake Park’s 200 free relay team of Mitchell, Sang, Jathen Easter and Ryan Kepner placed 18th in 1:33.16.

Jason Olson is at [email protected]