January 19, 2012 at 8:53 a.m.
The Tigers of Fridley put up a little more resistance than expect, but in the end, the Chisago Lakes swimming and diving team came out on top of the North Suburban Conference tilt.
The meet was tied after four events thanks in large part to the Wildcats' depth. Fridley had earned a first place finish in each of the first four events, but in each one, the Wildcats took second, third and fourth.
"This was a closer meet than what I predicted," Head Coach Mark Nordby said. "Fridley had us tied after the 50 free."
The divers helped CL grab their first lead of the event when Jake Doble and Jake Carlson finished in first and third.
The lead really bulged in the next event, however. David Lange, Sam Engel and Riley Darling went one-two-three in the 100 butterfly to earn 13 team points to Fridley's three. Lange broke the minute barrier in the event, swimming a 59.31 for first place.
The 'Cats extended the lead a bit in the 100 free, but they couldn't shake the pesky Tigers.
In the 500 free, Alberto Orejuela of Fridley set a pool record with a 4:53.04. Although Fridley had been winning a lot of the events, they weren't making up points because of CL's depth. The 500 was the first case that Fridley's deeper swimmers clipped CL's. Tiger swimmers grabbed second and fourth behind Orejuela and the lead was back down to eight points with four events left.
But, Fridley had essentially used up their best swimmers to hang with the 'Cats, and CL still had plenty of gas left in the tank.
In the 200 free relay, Sam Engel, Eric Barnes, Avery Turman and Lange teamed up for a first place finish in 1:36.45. Nathan Braski, Beau Hawkinson, Jake Ewert and Ethan Engstrom came in second place with a 1:43.88 and Jake Doble, Konner Doble, Jeff Hammer and Michael Thomas even grabbed the third place spot with a 1:48.68.
The clean sweep of the top spots stretched CL's lead back to a near insurmountable 18 points with three events left.
Again, Fridley got first place finishes in the last three events, but CL got second, third and fourth in all three to close out the 103-83 win.
"This was a great win as it once again showed us that the seconds, thirds, and fourth place finishes really add up and can overcome a few superstars from the other team," Nordby said. "We needed to get a jump on Fridley as they have a couple of the best swimmers in the state."
Section 3A True Team
The Wildcats continued their thrilling week with a win at the Section 3A True Team meet at Minneapolis Edison High School.
"What a great victory against some very strong teams. Monticello is the defending state champions in the free relays and Orono has several state qualifiers on their team," explained Nordby. "So, to beat both of these teams took an entire squad of Wildcats swimming fast and that's basically what we did."
In this type of meet, depth is much more critical than superstars at the top as a lot of points are awarded deep into the results.
The Wildcats opened up with 88 points in the 200 medley relay when Eikens, Hawkinson, Darling and Al Vrudny finished seventh, Matt Nalfen, Nathan Braski, Konner Doble and Jake Doble finished ninth and Andy Steward, Austin Turman, Noah Froberg and Eli Klatt finished 15th.
In the 200 freestyle, Jake Ewert finished in eight place with a time of 2:03.29, earning 17 points.
In the 200 individual medley, Engel, Turman and Hawkinson all had top 10 finishes and compiled 55 points for CL.
Lange, Eikens and Vrudny went eighth, ninth and 10th in the 50 freestyle, picking up 47.5 points.
Jake Doble and Carlson earned top seven finishes -- Doble got second place with a score of 330.20, for 42 points.
In the 100 butterfly, Lange, Darling and Falkowski all got in the top nine finishers and kept tacking on the big points for the Wildcats.
Barnes grabbed an eighth place finish in the 100 freestyle while Ewert got seventh in the 500 free.
The Wildcats got some of their biggest points of the day in the 200 free relay. Barnes, Lange, Hawkinson and Turman finish second and Eikens, Braski, Ewert and Vrudny finished third. That pair of teams along earned 90 points, but then the Doble brothers, Engstrom and Darling finished in ninth to add 32 more points to their haul.
Even Klatt, Derek Frank, Hammer and Tyler Buhr finished in 11th, earning 28 points.
"Our 200 free relays placed four teams in the top 11. That's truly a team focused on performing as one," Nordby said proudly.
Engel got the only Chisago Lakes individual victory on the day, swimming the 100 backstroke in a school record 58.60, earning 24 points in the process.
Eikens, Vrudny and Halfen finished in eighth, ninth and 10th in the same event.
The Wildcats had been trailing Monticello all day up until that race, and they seized the lead after that.
Falkowski, Turman and Hawkinson scored top nine finishes in the 100 breaststroke and the 'Cats closed the day with a third, seventh and 12th in the 400 free relay.
The last performance sealed the team victory for them, as they scored 927.5 points while Monticello came in second with 895.5 points.
"We've been working hard on technique and I think that type of attention to detail really pays off to get some of our newer swimmers on board," Nordby said. "It was really the sevenths, eighths, ninths and 10ths that secured our victory and the guys put together some great relays."