MINNEAPOLIS — Taking advantage of a format tailor-made for its strengths, the Stillwater boys’ swimming and diving team placed third at Saturday’s Class AA True Team state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
The Ponies have qualified for this event in eight of the nine years since its inception and matched the program’s top previous finish back in 2008. Unlike that team which was led up front by all-state and All-American performers, this year’s effort was the result of more substance than style.
“It was one of the top performances I’ve seen from a team in my coaching career, very excellent,” said Ponies coach Brian Luke, now in his 38th season. “It was really exciting. That was a very fun three hours, better than a movie — cheaper, too.”
As expected, Eden Prairie totaled 2,313 points to outdistance runner-up Minnetonka (2,159.5) for the title while the Ponies followed with 1,813 points. Edina followed in fourth at 1,690.5.
Luke said the Ponies trailed Edina by about 170 points on paper based on corresponding times from their respective sections, but Stillwater erased that deficit and finished with room to spare.
“Between them losing some points and us gaining a lot, we made back 290 on them and we spread out from the people behind them,” Luke said. “I didn’t want to go backwards, but it was certainly fun to go forwards. Basically, every athlete stepped up.”
The Ponies wasted little time while jumping out quickly in the 200 medley relay, finishing sixth, 16th and 17th with its top three teams.
“We gained 70 points in the first event,” Luke said. “That’s pretty solid stuff.”
Stillwater continued to maintain its position in third place throughout most of the meet thanks to steady, consistent finishes and enough personal bests to keep the momentum going.
Liam Gibb placed third in diving with a score of 353.15 to provide Stillwater’s top individual finish in what has been a strong event all season. Colin Eason (332.20) and Anthony Shanley (301.45) followed in seventh and 11th.
Out of 12 events, the Ponies managed just 12 top-10 finishes. The difference came with Stillwater’s third and fourth finishers and how narrow the gap was between them and the top two. The differential between placing first and 10th is the same as placing 20th and 30th, so there are plenty of points won and lost in the last three heats.
“In the meet we were third, but except for Liam in diving I don’t think we got above seventh,” Luke said. “You’d think a third-place team would have a few more closer to the top, but our third and fourth kids were right behind (the top two) and we didn’t have any weak events.”
Marcus Green (22.59) and Tom Windett (22.70) placed seventh and 10th in the 50 freestyle and Brady Anderson supplied a seventh-place finish in the 100 butterfly (54.73) and an eighth-place effort in the 100 backstroke (55.72). Windett also finished eighth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 49.58.
Green (55.83) and Jon Busse (57.63) finished ninth and 12th in the backstroke and Sam Larson (59.00) finished 17th to help the Ponies stretch their lead with a strong showing in the event.
Dominic Jankowski set the pace for Stillwater in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:01.73, which was good enough for 10th place.
“Marcus Green had a great meet,” Luke said. “I think he was seeded like 20th going into the 50 and we went a lifetime best. Windett, that was his first time under 50 (seconds) in the 100 so that’s kind of a milestone. The backstrokers did really nice nad the IMers, they all did, you can go down the whole team.”
It’s safe to say the Ponies will not place in the top three at the MSHSL state meet — which rewards individual strength — and they were happy to have an opportunity to show off what they can do when depth matters.
“We might get higher in the (True Team) state than we do in our conference, but that’s the set-up and we were strong in that particular format,” Luke said. “At the Maroon and Gold (Invite) we were eighth, but they only went three deep and one deep on relays, but now going four deep we can — if we went five deep we might have been able to catch Minnetonka. I always tell coaches, go with your strength, whatever it is.
“I love swimming at that pool and I think historically we’ve swam and dove pretty well there so you kind of anticipate you’re going to do that,” Luke said. “You go over there assuming you’re going to swim fast and normally we do.”
1. Eden Prairie 2,313; 2. Minnetonka 2,159.5; 3. Stillwater 1,813; 4. Edina 1,690.5; 5. Rosemount 1,580.5; 6. Wayzata 1,496; 7. Maple Grove 1,353; 8. Lakeville South 1,291; 9. Anoka 1,128; 10. Farmington 1,092; 11. St. Michael-Albertville 1,041; 12. Bloomington Jefferson 657.5.
200 medley relay — 1. Minnetonka, 1:37.68; 6. Stillwater A (Marcus Green, Riley Hollerbach, Brady Anderson and Alex Burback) 1:42.99; 16. Stillwater C (Jon Busse, Max Erickson, Alex Percival and Sam Payne) 1:48.16; 17. Stillwater B (Sam Larson, Isaac Swanlund, Max Larson and Lucas Magilke) 1:48.23; 36. Stillwater D (Tucker Naugle, John Gribble, Charlie Wyffels and Eric Bromback) 1:53.50.
200 freestyle — 1. Erick Huft (Ed) 1:42.89; 17. Jesse Busse (St) 1:52.63; 19. Jon Busse (St) 1:52.99; 23. Alex Percival (St) 1:54.15; 29. Allen Burback (St) 1:55.20.
200 individual medley — 1. Jackson Lindell (Ed) 1:56.14; 15. Max Larson (St) 2:07.62; 16. Dominic Jankowski (St) 2:07.77; 19. Sam Larson (St) 2:08.11; 24. Brennan Rosell (St) 2:10.71.
50 freestyle — *1. Aaron Greenberg (EP) 21:37; 7. Marcus Green (St) 22.59; 10. Tom Windett (St) 22.70; 17. Alex Burback (St) 23.29; 19. Lucas Magilke (St) 23.41.
Diving — 1. Daniel Monaghan (Ros) 415.95; 3. Liam Gibb (St) 353.15; 7. Colin Eason (St) 332.20; 11. Anthony Shanley (St) 301.45.
100 butterfly — 1. Bryce Boston (EP) 51.01; 7. Brady Anderson (St) 54.73; 18. Alex Percival (St) 56.78; 20. Max Larson (St) 57.06; 27. Charlie Wyffels (St) 58.33.
100 freestyle — *1. Noah Busch (Min) 46.61; 8. Tom Windett (St) 49.58; 17. Jesse Busse (St) 51.50; 20. Alex Burback (St) 52.00; 30. Lucas Magilke (St) 53.15.
500 freestyle — 1. Erick Huft (Ed) 4:39.78; 10. Dominic Jankowski (St) 5:01.73; 15. Brennan Rosell (St) 5:05.71; 25. Sam Payne (St) 5:15.82; 33. Tucker Naugle (St) 5:24.83.
200 freestyle relay — 1. Eden Prairie, 1:28.36; 8. Stillwater A (Marcus Green, Alex Burback, Lucas Magilke and Tom Windett) 1:31.72; 15. Stillwater B (Riley Hollerbach, Dominic Jankowski, Jesse Busse and Isaac Swanlund) 1:35.75; 19. Stillwater C (Sam Payne, Brennan Rosell, Eric Bromback and Allen Burback) 1:37.31; 36. Stillwater D (Tanner Call, Andreas Fenner, John Gribble and Spencer Roll) 1:41.13.
100 backstroke — *1. Noah Busch (Min) 51.11; 8. Brady Anderson (St) 55.72; 9. Marcus Green (St) 55.83; 12. Jon Busse (St) 57.63; 17. Sam Larson (St) 59.00.
100 breastroke — 1. Aaron Greenberg (EP) 58.02; 17. Riley Hollerbach (St) 1:06.84; 25. Isaac Swanlund (St) 1:09.32; 28. Max Erickson (St) 1:09.93; 35. John Gribble (St) 1:11.20.
400 freestyle relay — *1. Minnetonka, 3:11.59; 8. Stillwater A (Brady Anderson, Jesse Busse, Jon Busse and Tom Windett) 3:22.02; 17. Stillwater B (Max Larson, Dominic Jankowski, Alex Percival and Isaac Swanlund) 3:30.48; 23. Stillwater C (Sam Larson, Eric Bromback, Allen Burback and Riley Hollerbach) 3:34.61; 29. Stillwater D (Tucker Naugle, Brennan Rosell, Charlie Wyffels and Sam Payne) 3:39.95.
* Meet record