Sophomores lead Hastings to stateSophomores led the way for the Hastings boys swimming team as the Raiders turned in their best section finish in 15 years and sent four swimmers to the state meet.
By: Scott Wente, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Sophomores led the way for the Hastings boys swimming team as the Raiders turned in their best section finish in 15 years and sent four swimmers to the state meet.
The Raiders completed the Section 1AA swimming and diving championships last Saturday with a second-place team finish behind section champ Rochester Century. Hastings had two first-place relay finishes, an individual first-place finish and a total of nine state-qualifying events.
All of that was the effort of sophomores Brandon Underwood, Colby Smith, Hayden Schmitt and Thomas Everson.
“I was very excited about it,” Raiders coach Gerry Rupp said of Hastings’ second-place finish. “That’s the first time that Hastings has been a section runner-up since 1997, so it goes back a long ways.”
It’s the first time Hastings finished in second since it was moved to Section 1AA about 10 years ago, Rupp said.
“It’s huge,” he said.
Heading into the section meet in Rochester, the Raiders wanted to get 10 of their swims qualified for the state meet, Rupp said. “Of those 10, we got nine.”
Underwood, Smith, Schmitt and Everson combined for two state-qualifying relay times. They took first in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:38.55. The four sophomores also claimed the 400-yard freestyle relay final with a time of 3:13.96, finishing nearly five seconds ahead of second-place Rochester John Marshall.
Smith dominated in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing with a time of 52.18 and making him a three-time section winner in the event. Everson completed the 100-yard butterfly in fourth at 54.09, but good enough for a state bid. Eighth-grader Elijah swam a 57.87 in the 100-yard butterfly.
Smith and Everson also earned a spot at state in the 200 yard IM. Smith finished second with a time of 1:59.15 and Everson clocked a 1:59.99.
Underwood advanced to state in a couple of individual events. He finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle with at time of 21.97. Schmitt also reached state in the event with a fifth-place finish and time of 22.03.
Section 1AA sent six swimmers to state in the event.
Underwood’s other individual state race will be 100-yard freestyle, in which he placed fourth last weekend with a time of 48.26. Schmitt finished fifth in the event, but missed the 49.05 qualifying time by about three-tenths of a second.
Rupp said Underwood turned in those state-qualifying times despite coming down with Strep throat. The coach said he was hoping Underwood would improve in time for the state prelims on Friday. The state meet is at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Rupp said Hastings has an opportunity to score numerous swimmers in the top eight in the state preliminary races.
“Our goal is for every single swim to make it back to the top eight,” he said.
Rupp said the team’s most impressive swim of the section finals belonged to eighth-grader Jack VanZee in the 500 yard freestyle. VanZee finished the preliminary with a time of 5:24.28. He then shaved 14 seconds off his time in the 500 freestyle final, finishing in 5:10.82.
Rupp said the team has been training VanZee as a “distance guy” and trying to get him out of his comfort zone earlier in the event, rather than waiting to burst during the final stretch.
“This race he finally stepped out of his comfort zone” and saved time earlier on, Rupp said.
VanZee’s performance was good for ninth place in the 500 freestyle. Fellow Raider Steven Kimmes finished 13th in the event with a time of 5:21, three seconds better than his preliminary time.
Junior Hunter Sassor posted a third-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:03.90. Freshman Cole Tipler was ninth at 1:06.36. The section did not yield any state qualifiers in that event.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Sassor finished in 1:55.04, good for 13th place.
In the 100-yard backstroke, junior John Utecht finished eighth with a time of 59.61, followed by Kenneth Benson’s ninth-place finish and time of 59.61 in the consolation final.
Hastings totaled 307 points in the Section 1AA final. Rochester Century won with 432 points. Farmington was third with 273 points.
Rupp said the second-place finish was especially sweet for Hastings because it is the only school in the section that lacks a diving program, meaning it has one fewer events to tally points toward the team score.
“That’s pretty impressive for those guys,” he said.