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HHS swimmers score huge win over Stillwater

Twelve years ago, the Suburban East Conference formed. All of a sudden, Hastings began to meet Stillwater in the pool, and the winning team was always dressed in red and black.

Not once had Gerry Rupp beaten Stillwater on the boys side, and not once has Hastings defeated Stillwater on the girls side.

That all changed last week.

Hastings beat Stillwater in a big SEC meet, 99-87.

"We are extremely happy," Rupp said. "It was a very exciting feeling to know that we had enough talent, and that our depth stepped up and made the difference."

Hastings always has a team much smaller than Stillwater's, making the improbable win even more impressive. This year, again, Stillwater has twice the number of swimmers as Hastings.

"The Stillwater team was stunned," Rupp said. "They couldn't believe we knocked them off."

Hastings had a number of strong performances on the night.

Hayden Schmitt was one swimmer who excelled, made even more impressive by the fact that he had a fever on the day of the meet.

"He took some over-the-counter stuff, and was able to swim," Rupp said. "He turned in four fantastic races. He was one of the main reasons why we won."

Schmitt won the 50 freestyle in 22.47 seconds.

Jack VanZee had two very good swims, too, Rupp said. He placed second in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:08.77. He was also part of two first-place relay teams.

"When Jack took second in that 500, I thought we were definitely on a roll," Rupp said.

"Jack has a lot of talent. He has gotten a lot taller, and his stroke is longer. He's getting out of his comfort zone sooner in the races this year. He's not waiting until the last 50 to sprint and try to catch up. What he's doing now, is he's staying closer or, plain and simple, he's putting the guy behind him from the get-go."

Brandon Underwood had two big swims as well. One came in the 100 freestyle (48.31) and another in the 100 backstroke (54.45). He won both races.

"Those are huge swims," Rupp said.

Colby Smith turned in another great night, too, Rupp said. He won the 100 butterfly (52.68) and the 200 individual medley (2:03.58).

"He doesn't get as much credit as he deserves," Rupp said. "He goes out there and he wins two races every night."

Both Underwood and Smith were on two winning relay teams as well.

Thomas Everson fared well, too. He won the 200 freestyle (1:50.47).

Cole Tipler won a race, too, taking first in the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.36.

"He led from the horn to the end," Rupp said. "He just took off and said, 'This is my race. I'm not going to be denied.' It was a beautiful race to watch."

Hunter Sassor came up big in the 200 individual medley, Rupp said. He dropped four seconds and placed third.

"He was behind by a body length going into the breaststroke," Rupp said. "He caught two of those guys and pulled off third place. That was huge."

Hastings has just three SEC meets left on the season, including upcoming meets against Park and Forest Lake.

Hastings is 6-0 heading into those two meets, and the Raiders are heavy favorites in each meet.

That means the SEC title will likely come down to the season's final meet, set for here on Feb. 7 against East Ridge. Both teams will likely be 8-0 entering that meet.

Results from the meet went like this:

200 medley relay - team of John Utecht, Cole Tipler, Hayden Schmitt and Brandon Underwood, first, 1:42.17; team of Kenny Benson, Hunter Sassor, Elijah Reilly and Cole Scully, 1:49.85; team of Jack Weldon, Mikey Everson, Aaron McCullough and Patrick Clark, 1:59.12.

200 freestyle - Thomas Everson, first, 1:50.47; Stephen Smith, third, 1:53.51; Jack VanZee, 2:04.02.

200 individual medley - Colby Smith, first, 2:03.58; Sassor, third, 2:10.43; Utecht, 2:21.14.

50 freestyle - Schmitt, first, 22.47; Tipler, fifth, 23.49; Reilly, sixth, 24.29.

Diving - Vova Tipler, fourth, 137.25; Benson, fifth, 132.95; Mikey Everson, 122.40.

100 butterfly - Smith, first, 52.68; Reilly, fourth, 56.73; Weldon, 1:00.59.

100 freestyle - Underwood, first, 48.31; Schmitt, second, 49.92; Gergen, 57.70.

500 freestyle - Thomas Everson, first, 5:01.45; VanZee, second, 5:08.77; Smith, 5:23.83.

200 freestyle relay - team of Smith, VanZee, Schmitt and Everson, first, 1:31.52; team of Tipler, Sassor, Scully and Reilly, third, 1:37.15; team of Gergen, Clark, Everson and Christensen, 1:48.08.

100 backstroke - Underwood, first, 54.45; Utecht, fifth, 1:00.38; Benson, 1:01.57.

100 breaststroke - Tipler, first, 1:04.36; Sassor, second, 1:07.09; Scully, 1:13.12.

400 freestyle relay - team of Everson, Smith, VanZee and Underwood, first, 3:26.86; team of Smith, Utecht, Benson and Weldon, 3:51.13.