March 12, 2015 at 2:36 p.m.
“We were excited to bring a large crew of Wildcats to the state tournament to show off our talents,” Head Coach Brian McNally said.
As a team, the ‘Cats brought eight competitors in eight events, as well as alternates for the relay teams.
They got some very impressive finishes from two seniors making their final mark on the program. Riley Darling double-medaled in the 100 fly and the 200 individual medley and Jake Doble earned a fourth place finish in diving.
Darling had a rocky prelim in the butterfly, but his time got him into the finals, and that’s when he fine-tuned his stroke. He trimmed .17 seconds off of his personal best that he had at section finals and finished in third place in the event with a 51.40 mark.
The two finishers in front of him, Sean Donnelly of Chaska and Tommy Weiss of St. Thomas, had All-American Consideration times under 51 seconds.
Darling was able to improve his time in the individual medley too. He was the six seed going into finals, but trimmed .18 seconds off of his time. The lower time didn’t improve his placing, but it showed he was still working to improve.
“During the finals session, he swam very well and attacked the first half of the race very aggressively,” McNally said. “He usually does this as his breaststroke is not as strong on the back half.”
Darling also got a chance to break two other school records, leading off in the 200 and 400 freestyle in the consolation finals when regular leadoff Austin Turman had to leave the meet early for a band trip to Hawaii. See each event description for details.
In diving, Doble had troubles early on. He was in only 11th place after prelims, but made his move in the semifinals. He jumped all the way up to fourth place, and that’s where he held in the finals to earn his second straight podium finish. “Jake dove really well this season,” McNally said.
Other state participants, and how McNally thought they fared:
200 Medley Relay:
This crew was actually changed up a bit between sections and state to give us some more speed in the backstroke. Junior, Austin Turman only qualified for three events at the state meet, leaving him with one open spot. He is one of our absolute fastest swimmers across the board. It was impossible to not include him on the relay. He swam well at state in the backstroke, helping us drop our time three seconds from section prelims. The rest of the relay was Charlie Olson - Breaststroke, Phil LaPlante - Butterfly, and Jake Carlson - Freestyle. They swam great as a team but finished in 18th, just two spots out of returning to swim at consolation finals. They did drop a considerable amount of time and I am very proud of their efforts.
Turman was our only qualifier in this event. He swam very well at sections. Due to him being in the 200 Medley Relay directly before this event, he did not perform his best. Not only did he have back to back events, he actually was put in back to back heats. He gave his very best effort, but did not make it back to swim in finals.
200 Individual Medley:
We had two qualifiers in this event, Darling, who finished in six place overall, and Derek Frank. Frank swam well, very close to his best time from sections. However, he did not make it back to swim in finals.
Jacob Carlson was our only entrant in this event. He was working to balance his time in the warm up between swimming and diving, which is always tough to do. This event is somewhat unpredictable because it really comes down to a good start and a good turn. Jake swam well. He was just .07 slower than he went at sections. He finished 20th, just four spots away from qualifying for consolation finals. I look for him to make great improvement and be a powerful sprinter next season.
Our two divers got off to a bit of a rocky start, but they managed to battle back and perform well. After prelims, they were ranked 11th (Doble) and 19th (Carlson).
However their tougher dives went very well in semifinals, and they gained several spots. After semifinals, they were ranked fourth and 13th. This is also where they would wind up after finals. Jake Carlson is such a rare talent in that he swam three events at state and made it to finals in diving.
200 Freestyle Relay:
This had been a stable group for nearly the whole season. It was clear that this would have a chance to be our best relay. These guys won the section true team meet and placed eighth at the true team state meet earlier this year. They were not often bested. They were just nearly touched out at section finals by Spring Lake Park and came into state ranked 12th.
The relay team of Derek Frank, Jake Carlson, Austin Turman, and Riley Darling swam a school record 1:31.22 at section finals. They swam EVEN FASTER at state prelims recording a time of 1:30.55 handily smashing their old school record. This earned them a spot in the consolation finals, qualifying in ninth place. This was a great spot. However, due to a few swimmers leaving on a band trip to Hawaii, we had to plug in some alternates in our relays. With Austin Turman out for finals we fell to 15th place in a very tightly spread field.
In finals, the team of Riley Darling, Luke Falkowski, Derek Frank, and Jake Carlson placed 15th and swam a time of 1:31.83. However, by allowing Riley Darling to lead off the relay he was able to break our school record in the 50 freestyle. This counts as a school record because for the first swimmer, the flat start and touch to the wall are the same as an individual open event. He beat the record with a time of 22.17.
400 Freestyle Relay:
We had a similar situation here where they swam very well in prelims, besting their time from section finals. However, we again lost Austin Turman to the band trip to Hawaii.
I was glad that this team qualified in 15th place during prelims. They came into the meet seeded 17th and a swim in finals was definitely not guaranteed. They swam very well. The team of Derek Frank, Colton Olson, Austin Turman, and Riley Darling swam a time of 3:24.14 and qualified for finals in 15th place.
In finals, with Austin Turman out, they slipped to 16th place. The team of Riley Darling, Matt Braun, Colton Olson, and Derek Frank swam a time of 3:28.17. However, it was another opportunity to have Riley lead off the relay to go for another school record. He had never swam the 50 or 100 open this season despite going to state in the 50 last season. Again, he grabbed another school record in his quest to re-write our school record board. He swam the lead off leg 100 freestyle in a time of 48.74, beating our old school record by half a second.
The guys finished their season with a 15th place finish at the state tournament, which was up three spots from last year.
“It was a outstanding season with a great team. They ALL saw a great deal of improvement. I think that was my biggest takeaway this year. Our strength is not in one or two fast swimmers, but in the fact that we have a big group of talented swimmers who are all always improving,” McNally said after the meet. “Despite our changes at state it was great to get some of the alternates a chance to swim at the highest level against the toughest competition. That gives us a ton of depth that many teams lack. I cannot wait to begin next season, but that will unfortunately have to wait.”
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