Raiders qualify four swimmers for state meet
A scratched cornea isn't an injury that figures in to most high school swimming meets, but that's exactly what the Hastings Raiders faced last week.
Seventh-grader Elijah Reilly was high-fiving a teammate last week after practice. Somehow, the high-five went terribly wrong, and Reilly's cornea was scratched in two places forcing him to miss last week's section meet in Rochester.
Reilly figured to race in a relay and in two individual events. His injury likely cost the Raiders about 30 points, according to coach Gerry Rupp.
The Raiders ended up placing fifth at the meet, and the team was just 14 away from third place.
"It was just one of those things - just a fluke," Rupp said. "You can't be mad at him. I just felt bad for him - he had worked so hard all season long."
The news wasn't all bad for the Raiders, though. Hastings qualified swimmers in five events for this weekend's state meet, including two relay teams.
All four swimmers who qualified are freshmen, and their success is nothing new in Hastings swimming circles. The foursome has been swimming together on the club team here, the Hastings Area Swim Team, since they were 8 years old. They've excelled every step of the way, and the section meet was no different.
Just a day after the four qualified for the state meet, Rupp came across a photo of the four from a state club meet in 2007, when they were all swimming for the Hastings Area Swim Team.
"They look like little babies in the photo," Rupp said.
Now, though, the four have quickly grown up. Last year, in fact, two qualified for the state meet (Smith and Everson).
Rupp has high hopes for the foursome at the state meet.
"My goal is for all four boys to be able to make it back to finals," he said. "I think that'd be a pretty good accomplishment. My ultimate goal is that in all six swims we make it to finals. The side goal is for Colby to make All-State in the butterfly."
Hunter Sassor nearly qualified for the state meet in the 100 breaststroke. He was in second place through 75 yards.
"We were dumbfounded, seeing him in second place," Rupp said. "(Assistant coach) Katie (McAlpin) and I were looking at each saying 'Are you kidding me? This kid might make it to state.'"
Sassor, though, ended up losing a couple spots on the final length, slipping to fifth and missing out on qualifying by less than a second. He had a time of 1:04.25 and the second-place finisher came in at 1:03.35.
Sassor entered the meet with a seeding time of 1:07, so he cut three seconds to place fifth.
"He really swam well," Rupp said. "It was exciting to see that swim out of him. He really put in a great meet."
In his final high school meet, Tony Ring fared well, too. The lone HHS senior qualified for finals in the 50 freestyle. He also had a good swim in the 100 freestyle.
"It was exciting to see him swim that well," Rupp said. "He dropped a lot of time. He really swam well."
Ring went from a 54.1 second best in the 100 to a 52.4.
"That's darn impressive," Rupp said. "I was really happy for him. He had never made the finals before, so to make it in the 50 was great to see."
In the 100 butterfly, Hayden Schmitt placed third. He was less than a second away from qualifying in the event.
The 200 medley relay team enters the state meet with a time of 1:41.00. The team will be made up of Smith, Everson, Underwood and Schmitt.
Eden Prairie is the state's top-ranked team with a time of 1:34.86.
Hastings is seeded 12th entering the meet.
The 400 freestyle relay team had a time of 3:20.05 at sections. The team will be made up of Smith, Everson, Underwood and Schmitt.
The top-ranked team is Edina with a time of 3:11.03.
The team is seeded 16th.
In the 200 individual medley, Everson had a time of 2:01.79 and Smith had a time of 2:00.11.
The top-ranked swimmer is Max Cartwright of Edina, who has a 1:53.88.
Smith is seeded 10th and Everson is seeded 18th.
In the 100 butterfly, Smith had a time of 53.11. He is now the two-time defending section champ in the butterfly.
The top-ranked swimmer is Maverick Hovey of Eden Prairie, who has a time of 50.67.
He is seeded ninth in the event.
Everson had a time of 4:58.16 in the 500 freestyle.
Noah Lucas of Mounds View is the top swimmer at 4:40.40.
Everson is seeded 18th in the event.
Results from the section finals went like this:
200 medley relay - team of Underwood, Smith, Schmitt and Thomas Everson, first, 1:41.00.
200 freestyle -- Sassor, ninth, 1:56.09; Steven Kimmes, 14th, 1:58.90.
200 individual medley -- Smith, second, 2:00.11; Thomas Everson, fourth, 2:01.79; Schmitt, seventh, 2:07.48.
50 freestyle - Underwood, seventh, 22.65; Ring, 15th, 23.44.
100 butterfly - Smith, first, 53.11; Schmitt, third, 55.48.
100 freestyle - Underwood, 11th, 50.01.
500 freestyle - Everson, third, 4:58.16; Kimmes, 11th, 5:21.32.
100 backstroke - Utecht, eighth, 1:01.74; Kenneth Benson, 13th, 1:03.14.
100 breaststroke - Sassor, fifth, 1:04.25.
400 freestyle relay - team of Schmitt, Everson, Underwood and Smith, third, 3:20.05.