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Swimming: Raiders place second in section, qualify all three relays

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Gerry Rupp has seen a lot of great talent come through his swimming program and Hastings High School, but something happened last week he doesn't ever remember happening before.

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At the section finals on Friday, Hastings qualified all three relays for the state meet.

"I don't think that has ever happened before," Rupp said.

The meet was filled with good news the Raiders, who ended up qualifying eight individual swims as well.

"Our goal was 11 individual swims and all three relays, and we got eight of the 11," Rupp said. "That's a huge accomplishment for this team to get that many swims in. And, the fact that our top four guys haven't completely rested yet - we are hoping for big things this week. We think they have more left in the tank yet."

Hastings placed second as a team behind Rochester Century. They had 431 points, while Hastings had 370 and Farmington had 309.

Coming into the season, Hastings had four proven swimmers, enough to qualify in two relays - juniors Colby Smith, Thomas Everson, Brandon Underwood and Hayden Schmitt. In order to qualify in all three relays, though, two swimmers were going ot have to emerge, and that's exactly what happened.

Jack VanZee and Cole Tipler were those two swimmers.

"The emergence of those two has made it possible for us to qualify all three relays," Rupp said. "It was a bit of a gamble to spread out our talent and go for all three relays, but it worked. We had to find some guys two fill a few holes, and Jack and Cole have done that."

Tipler emerged in the breaststroke. That meant Colby Smith didn't have to swim that leg of the medley relay and could instead be used in one of the other relays.

"Cole was the missing cog for that medley relay," Rupp said.

Tipler has also been put on the 200 freestyle relay.

VanZee, meanwhile, will be used on the 400 freestyle relay.

"He has just exploded in the last month," Rupp said. "He not only dropped considerable time in the 200 and the 500 freestyles, but his sprinting has come on as well."

VanZee qualified for the state meet in the 500, thanks to a 17-second time drop. He went from 5:10 to 4:53 and qualified.

"Qualifying for state is incredibly hard to do, and he made it," Rupp said. "That's a huge accomplishment for him."

VanZee is just a freshman.

Everson qualified in the 200 and the 500 freestyles.

"He had some very nice time drops, especially considering he's not fully rested," Rupp said. "He didn't shave and wasn't fully rested and wasn't feeling well, either. He performed under some tough conditions."

Smith qualified in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly.

He defended his section title in the butterfly.

"His individual medley was more of a struggle," Rupp said, "But, again, he's not fully rested or shaved, so we expect bigger things out of him for that."

Schmitt qualified in the 50 freestyle and just missed qualifying in the 100 freestyle.

"We were a little disappointed he didn't make the 100 freestyle, but those are tough races to make," Rupp said. "He just missed the state cut."

Underwood qualified in the 100 freestyle and was the section champion in the 100 backstroke. Underwood moved up the school rankings to second place, knocking Rupp down one spot to third. Phil Seleskie holds the school record in the event.

Close calls, big swims

Several swimmers had strong meets but didn't qualify.

Elijah Reilly had a lifetime best swim in the 100 butterfly.

Stephen Smith, a seventh-grader, cut all kinds of time to move up. He qualified for the consolation finals in two events, the 200 and 500 freestyles. He cut nine seconds from his 200 freestyle time this season. He cut 27 seconds off his 500 freestyle time this season.

Cole Scully fared well in the 100 freestyle, earning a trip to finals.

He cut about 3.5 seconds from his previous best.

John Utecht, a senior captain, qualified for finals in the 100 butterfly and broke one minute in the 100 backstroke.

Jack Weldon cut three seconds and placed 10th in the 100 butterfly.

Hunter Sassor placed seventh in the 200 individual medley and seventh in the 100 breaststroke.

Results

Here are results from the meet:

200 medley relay - team of Underwood, Tipler, Smith and Schmitt, first, 1:38.56.

200 freestyle - Everson, second, 1:46.19; VanZee, third, 1:48.99; Stephen Smith, 14th, 1:56.03.

200 individual medley - Colby Smith, third, 2:01.59; Hunter Sassor, seventh, 2:09.14.

50 freestyle - Schmitt, sixth, 22.21; Tipler, 10th, 23.18.

Diving - Vova Tipler, 11th, 227.10; Ethan Kimmes, 13th, 176.00.

100 butterfly - Smith, first, 52.93; Elijah Reilly, fifth, 55.88; Jack Weldon, 10th, 57.51; Utecht, 16th, 1:00.49.

500 freestyle - Everson, third, 4:51.49; VanZee, fourth, 4:53.76; Stephen Smith, 12th, 5:13.17.

200 freestyle relay - team of Schmitt, Tipler, VanZee and Everson, third, 1:29.96.

100 breaststroke - Tipler, sixth, 1:04.55; Sassor, seventh, 1:04.63.

100 backstroke - Underwood, first, 52.97; Utecht, 10th, 58.89; Kenny Benson, 14th, 1:00.95.

400 freestyle relay - team of Everson, Smith, VanZee and Underwood, first, 3:18.16.

Honors

Rupp was named the section's coach of the year and assistant Katie McAlpin was named the assistant coach of the year. It was the second straight year the two were honored with the awards.

"It's a very humbling experience - we didn't win the meet," Rupp said. "To have all the rest of the coaches in the section give you this award is really a humbling experience."

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
(651) 319-4500
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