First taste of big-school section competition scores a few trips to state
Spring Lake Park’s first time through the big-school Section 5AA swimming and diving meet yielded some impressive results as one of the smallest programs in Class AA.
Reigning Class A champion 1-meter diver Mitch Raihle returns to state after setting the Minntonka pool and Section 5AA record with a score of 550.75 points. He beat the previous meet record by 95 points, set in 2014 by Wayzata’s Eric Mitchell and this year’s runner-up Wayzata junior Mason Zarns (447.30). Raihle’s sophomore teammate Bailey Kwong placed fourth to qualify for state scoring 358.30 points in the meet hosted by Minnetonka Saturday.
That high mark was actually a goal set by his twin brother Mark Raihle, who is a captain for the boys basketball team.
“I was surprised to hit that goal exact,” Mitch Raihle said. His score would be a state high school meet record if he can repeat that 11-dive performance. “It was really fun to meet that goal set by my brother who doesn’t know too much about diving. He said, ‘Go for it!’”
The pool and diving board at Minnetonka Middle School East is comparable to that set up at the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Center, site for the Class AA state meet March 3-5.
“It’s a fairly new pool and the board is really nice,” Raihle said. “They’re newer boards so they have more spring to them.”
To build that score, he starts with an easier dive and progresses to the most difficult. The final three dives will come during the Class AA finals which begin at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Raihle, who plans to dive for the University of North Dakota next year, has worked on perfecting the inward 2.5 for the last two years and will save it for Saturday.
“It has the highest degree of difficulty. I’ve been working a lot on it so hopefully I will get (a clean dive) at state.”
Raihle won the Class A state title with a score of 493.55 last year and the state record of 532.70 is shared by two divers, Red Wing’s Tuner Eckstrom in 2010 and Champlin Park’s Dan Croaston in 1997. Last year’s Class AA champion, Andy Pfau of Bloomington Jefferson scored 466.00 points to win the state title and the Class AA record is 526.20 points.
Coming into state, Raihle has been recognized as the reigning Class A champion and someone to look up to.
“Winning state last year is kind of a relief,” Raihle said. “It doesn’t have to be all this year then.”
“Moving into AA this year is a new goal of winning AA this year,” Raihle said, adding that the level of competition is about the same between the classes – very tough.
Raihle has worked on refining his entry into the water with pointed toes and minimal splash to yield the most points.
He won’t be the only Panthers diver at state. Kwong, a first-year diver, is ready to step into the state spotlight. “I’ve been begging him to join the team for three years and he finally came out and dived for our club this summer,” Raihle said. “I could tell right away that he’s a gifted diver. He should be in this sport.”
Raihle’s advice for state: “He just needs to relax … go all out with a smart head on.”
Last summer Raihle competed at the USA Swimming regional event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but missed out on qualifying for the zone meet which would’ve qualified him for nationals. Both meets, regionals and zones will be at the University of Minnesota soon after the state meet and Raihle anticipates competing in both.
Senior Davin Sang led freshman Joe Privratsky for a Panthers one-two finish in the 100-yard breaststroke finals. Sang’s winning time of 59.79 seconds was one-hundredth of a second off his school record set in the Class A state preliminaries last year. Privratsky finished in 1:01.72.
Spring Lake Park kicked off the meet with a runner-up finish in the 200 medley relay. Sang led off the rely with Privratsky, Nick Grivina and Payton Kilian swimming the anchor leg in 1:40.48 seconds, 0.48 behind Armstrong’s winning time.
Grivna, a junior, was runner-up in the 100 butterfly in 54.58, trailing Irondale junior Greg Pehl’s winning time of 52.97. Sang was fourth in 55.13.
In the team standings, Wayzata won it with 547 points, 169 points ahead of runner-up Robbinsdale Armstrong and 237 points ahead of the Panthers in the eight-team section made up of seven Northwest Suburban Conference teams and one Lake Conference program in Wayzata.