A strong finish in Saturday’s finals helped the Stillwater boys’ swimming and diving team collect its fifth Section 4AA championship in six years.
The Ponies, who also secured 11 entries for this week’s state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, pulled away for a convincing 525-404 victory over runner-up East Ridge and the rest of the eight-team field. Woodbury followed in third place with 298 points.
Starting on Friday when they qualified three divers for state, led by individual champion Colin Eason, the Ponies overcame an indifferent performance in Thursday’s prelims to finish with a flourish on Saturday.
“Our prelims was, well, not real fast,” Stillwater coach Brian Luke said. “I was a little concerned after that, but we were pretty much in the correct heat except for maybe a couple of ninths, so I thought we’d better step it up in the finals. The guys, I thought, had the best team finals of any team there and really did what you would hope they would do.”
East Ridge was one of three Suburban East Conference teams to defeat the Ponies during the regular season and better suited to score points at state, but Stillwater’s depth won out on Saturday.
“We had more kids in the meet than they did,” Luke said. “They had a lot of first places, but we still had about a 45-point lead on paper (going into the finals) and that’s somewhat large in that meet. They never gained any on us and we gained on us. We separated further from them so our depth paid off dramatically in that meet.”
The Ponies scored just three points fewer than they did a year ago, which is no small accomplishment considering the graduation of four state qualifiers and a total of nine seniors from a team that went undefeated during the regular season.
“Win the section, that’s fun to do. You don’t want to take those things for granted,” Luke said. “We scored 500-some points (525) and last year we had 528 and we lost all those big-wig swimmers — there’s a lot of points that walked out the door, probably over 100. (This year’s group) pulled us back, and that’s pretty good because I thought the other teams improved. The other teams seem to be getting better so 525 points against better competition is a good thing.”
In addition to Eason in diving, Brady Anderson collected Stillwater’s other individual title in the 100 butterfly with a winning time of 54.22 and also anchored the first-place 400 freestyle relay team (3:18.70) that also included Alex Percival, Tom Windett and Jon Busse.
The Ponies also qualified for state with second-place finishes in the 200 medley (1:40.92) and 200 freestyle (1:30.08) relays. Anderson, Marcus Green, Riley Hollerbach and Alex Burback made up the medley relay lineup while Burback, Percival, Lucas Magilke and Windett contributed to the 200 free relay.
Anderson (54.93) and Green (55.18) finished second and third in the 100 backstroke to advance in that event, with Green qualifying on standard as only the top two finishers in swimming events are assured a spot in the state field.
Green finished fourth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.15, which was also fast enough to eclipse the state cut-off.
Dominic Jankowski earned a spot on Stillwater’s dual meet dream team after placing second in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:52.99, which shattered his previous best this season by about 10 seconds.
“It was just a fantastic finals, one of the best I’ve watched a team do,” Luke said. “I’m glad they did that because after Thursday it wasn’t coming together properly, but they did good.”
Liam Gibb finished third in in diving with a score of 355.05, which was nearly 24 points behind Eason’s winning total of 378.70. Anthony Shanley finished fourth with a score of 323.80 to finish just 1.05 in front of fifth-place Max Samuelson of East Ridge.
“All three of our divers, that was pretty good,” Luke said. “All three were all-conference and all three are going to state so the diving corps did a super job. All year they’ve been one of our mainstays.”
1. Stillwater 525; 2. East Ridge 404; 3. Woodbury 298; 4. Tartan 237; 5. Park 183; 6. White Bear Lake 169; 7. North St. Paul 152; 8. St. Paul Harding 89.
State qualifiers (*), Stillwater finishers
200 medley relay — *1. East Ridge, 1:38.15; *2. Stillwater (Marcus Green, Riley Hollerbach, Brady Anderson and Alex Burback) 1:40.92; *3. Tartan, 1:41.20.
200 freestyle — *1. Kevin McPherson (Tar) 1:43.98; *2. Garrett Verhoeven (ER) 1:46.17; 5. Jon Busse (St) 1:49.80; 6. Jesse Busse (St) 1:50.79; 10. Alex Percival (St) 1:53.81; 11. Allen Burback (St) 1:54.78.
200 individual medley — *1. Sam Scholz (ER) 1:55.47; 2. Kendan Iverson (Tar) 2:02.30; 4. Sam Larson (St) 2:05.10; 5. Max Larson (St) 2:05.30; 9. Dominic Jankowski (St) 2:06.04; 10. Brennan Rosell (St) 2:06.49.
50 freestyle — *1. James Tidd (ER) 21.70; *2. Kent Rabideaux (ER) 21.71; *3. Spencer Whyte (NSP) 21.87; *4. Marcus Green (St) 22.15; 5. Tom Windett (St) 22.59; 6. Alex Burback (St) 22.72; 8. Lucas Magilke (St) 23.32.
Diving — *1. Colin Eason (St) 378.70; *2. Harrison Baden (WBL) 358.65; *3. Liam Gibb (St) 355.05; *4. Anthony Shanley (St) 323.80.
100 butterfly — *1. Brady Anderson (St) 54.22; *2. Seth Baetzold (NSP) 54.76; 3. Alex Percival (St) 55.04; 6. Max Larson (St) 56.86; 10. Charlie Wyffels (St) 58.84.
100 freestyle — *1. Kevin McPherson (Tar) 47.66; *2. Kent Rabideaux (ER) 47.88; *3. Spencer Whyte (NSP) 48.93; 5. Tom Windett (St) 49.57; 8. Alex Burback (St) 51.46; 9. Jesse Busse (St) 50.71; 11. Isaac Swanlund (St) 52.35.
500 freestyle — *1. Garrett Verhoeven (ER) 4:44.99; *2. Dominic Jankowski (St) 4:52.99; 4. Brennan Rosell (St) 5:04.71; 9. Allen Burback (St) 5:15.40.
200 freestyle relay — *1. East Ridge, 1:28.92; *2. Stillwater (Alex Burback, Alex Percival, Lucas Magilke and Tom Windett) 1:30.08.
100 backstroke — *1. Sam Scholz (ER) 54.79; *2. Brady Anderson (St) 54.93; *3. Marcus Green (St) 55.18; *4. Kendan Iverson (Tar) 55.32; 5. Jon Busse (St) 56.95; 6. Sam Larson (St) 57.61.
100 breastroke — *1. James Tidd (ER) 1:00.41; *2. William Ho (Wo) 1:01.98; 6. Riley Hollerbach (St) 1:04.83; 8. Lucas Magilke (St) 1:08.31; 13. Max Erickson (St) 1:11.31; 14. Isaac Swanlund (St) 1:11.45.
400 freestyle relay — *1. Stillwater (Alex Percival, Tom Windett, Jon Busse and Brady Anderson) 3:18.70; *2. Tartan, 3:20.18.