Unlike last month at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center when the Stillwater boys’ swimming and diving team placed third at True Team state, the Ponies carry more modest expectations into this week’s MSHSL Class AA state meet.
Diving preliminaries and semifinals kickoff the state meet tonight, with the swimming prelims slated for Friday. The finals for swimming and diving will take place on Saturday, also starting at 6 p.m.
The Ponies were the class of the Section 4AA meet last weekend when their depth was still an asset. Making the finals and scoring points at state will be more difficult, though Stillwater is well represented with 13 athletes making up 11 entries — including all three relays.
Stillwater’s best opportunity to score points could come in diving with Colin Eason, Liam Gibb and Anthony Shanley. This marks the fifth trip to the state meet for Gibb, who recorded his best finish as a sophomore in 2011 when he placed 10th. He finished 18th and narrowly missed out on the finals in 2010 and 2012.
Eason is making his third trip to state and hoping to advance to the finals for the first time after ranking 20th as an eighth-grader and 17th as a freshman a year ago. He won the section title with a score of 378.70 on Friday. Unlike his teammates, sophomore Anthony Shanley will be competing at state for the first time.
“They key is to get the first five dives out of hte way,” Stillwater coach Brian Luke said. “The first five are the toughest to do and after that it starts to play itself out. Both Colin and Liam have been there and been in the top 16 and this is Anthony’s first trip. If they all dive to their capabilities, they should be able to make that finals.”
Stillwater’s only entry that is seeded among the top 16 — and it is seeded 16th — is the 400 freestyle relay team of Alex Percival, Tom Windett, Jon Busse and Brady Anderson. The relay line-ups can be changed and that could help the Ponies go faster at state.
Marcus Green, who earned all-state honors a year ago as part of Stillwater’s fourth-place 200 freestyle relay team, is seeded 18th in the 50 freestyle. The Ponies are also seeded 18th in the 200 free relay with Alex Burback, Percival, Lucas Magilke and Windett.
“Logically, try to make the top 16 and get faster,” Luke said. “If we can get faster and move up and get into the finals, that would be great. There will always be teams that get there and go slower and some will get faster, if you can go a little quicker you can move up a few spots. All those seeds times do is get you a lane. Getting third or fourth in your heat is the key.”
Stillwater is seeded 23rd in the 200 medley relay with Green, Riley Hollerbach, Anderson and Burback and individual entries in the 100 butterfly (Anderson), 500 freestyle (Dominic Jankowski) and 100 backstroke (Anderson and Green).
“It will be a fun week,” Luke said. “We’ll have a big group so that helps, the more the merrier.
Stillwater state entries
Top seed, Stillwater qualifiers
200 medley relay — 1. Eden Prairie, 1:32.23; 23. Stillwater (Marcus Green, Riley Hollerbach, Brady Anderson and Alex Burback) 1:40.92.
200 freestyle — 1. Jonathan Lieberman (Eden Prairie) 1:40.96.
200 individual medley — 1. Jackson Lindell (Edina) 1:54.02.
50 freestyle — 1. Aaron Greenberg (Eden Prairie) 20.82; 18. Marcus Green (St) 22.15.
Diving (unseeded) — Colin Eason (St), Liam Gibb (St) and Anthony Shanley (St).
100 butterfly — 1. Bryce Boston (Eden Prairie) 49.92; 26. Brady Anderson (St) 54.22.
100 freestyle — 1. Aaron Greenberg (Eden Prairie) 46.06.
500 freestyle — 1. Jonathan Lieberman (Eden Prairie) 4:33.32; 24. Dominic Jankowski (St) 4:52.99.
200 freestyle relay — 1. Eden Prairie, 1:25.36; 18. Stillwater (Alex Burback, Alex Percival, Lucas Magilke and Tom Windett) 1:30.08.
100 backstroke — 1. Noah Busch (Minnetonka) 51.48; 23. Brady Anderson (St) 54.93; 29. Marcus Green (St) 55.18.
100 breastroke — 1. Ben Albert (Burnsville) 57.69.
400 freestyle relay — 1. Eden Prairie, 3:06.56; 16. Stillwater (Alex Percival, Tom Windett, Jon Busse and Brady Anderson) 3:18.70.
* Relay line-ups based on section finals