Spring Lake Park earned one of six automatic bids to the Class A State True Team meet after winning the Section 4A title at its home pool Jan. 19.
The Panthers beat out Chisago Lakes and Fridley by 94 and 177 points, respectively, in the meet that focuses more on team depth than individual results. All finishers receive team points, whereas the usual format only awards points for the top eight or 16 finalists.
Spring Lake Park and Fridley generated a loud roar from the crowd in the final event of the evening, the 400-yard freestyle relay. The two North Suburban Conference foes shared the 23 team points for the champions with tying times of 3:24.71. The Panthers foursome of Ryan Kepner, Jimmy Kepner, Mark Malinovskiy and Richard Kepner held a slim lead heading into the final relay.
Spring Lake Park won the opening event, the 200 medley relay, with the group of Davin Sang, Samuel Roden, Malinovskiy and Richard in 1:44.48, 0.47 ahead of Chisago Lakes.
Panthers coach Greg Kugler was impressed by the season-best times in the two winning relays, in addition to the way the underclassmen scored valuable team points in the middle portions of the meet.
Richard won the 100 free in 49.23 and 50 free in 22.85. Roden won the 100 breaststroke and Sang won the 100 back.
Panther divers swept the top two spots, led by senior Mitch Raihle and Justin Brewster 400.70 and 254.70 points, respectively.
Ryan, Jimmy and Nick Grivna scored three top six finishes in the 200 free to add 28 team points. Sang, Roden, Hendrickson and Joe Privatsky each placed among the top seven places in the 200 IM.
The Panthers dominated the 100 free with three of the top five swimmers, including Richard’s winning time followed by Grivna fourth and Austin Swenson fifth.
Bengals third in Section 7AA
Blaine came up with 247 points to place third at the Section 7AA True Team meet at its home pool it shares with Coon Rapids at Northdale Middle School Jan. 19.
Bengals junior Derek Kuecker won the 50 free in 22.92 and classmate Ted Landberg was third in 23.17.
Two 200 free relays teams placed among the top five teams to score 108 points, while the top 200 medley relay team was third and top 400 free relay team placed fourth for the Bengals.
Blaine junior diver Trenton Pittman placed third with a score of 326.95.
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