Raider swimmers Gergen and Rupp end prep careers at state meet
Hastings Raiders senior swimmers Jackson Gergen and John Rupp ended their prep swimming careers in style last week as they competed at the state swimming and diving meet. Both swimmers qualified for the state meet a week prior in two events; Gergen in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke, and Rupp in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
Gergen made the finals in the 50 freestyle by swimming a 21.56 in the preliminaries and then took 12th in the finals with a swim of 21.7 seconds. In the 100 breaststroke, he swam a 59.68 in the preliminaries and narrowly missed the cut to make the finals by less than a second.
"I was happy with my 50 freestyle time," Gergen said. 'I was excited to finally break the 22-second mark. I was a little disappointed with my 100 breaststroke at first because I didn't make it to the finals, but then I found out that I was one of three swimmers in the 40-plus years of Hastings swimming and diving to break the one-minute mark in the breaststroke, so I was very pleased with that."
Looking back at sections, while Gergen had qualified for state before in relays, it was his first time as an individual.
"Being able to stand up on that podium individually in my senior year has always been my goal. And to be able to qualify for state in both my events was a huge accomplishment," he said.
Rupp qualified for the finals in both of his events. For the 100 freestyle, he swam a 47.35 in the preliminaries and then took 11th in the finals with a 47.45. Both of his times in the 100 backstroke were separated by just a few hundredths of a second. He swam his preliminary in 52.41 to make the finals where he took 13th with a time of 52.44.
"Overall, I was happy with how I raced," Rupp said. "I swam my lifetime best in the 100 freestyle. The 100 backstroke was a really fast event this year, so I was happy to make it to the top-16."
Heading into sections, Rupp had similar goals to Gergen.
"I was very happy to take second place (in the 100 freestyle), since the first-place swimmer (Andrew Trepanier of Lakeville North) is the best sprint freestyler in the state," he said. "My goal was to qualify for state in both of my individual events, so felt a sense of accomplishment."
His last state experience was a mixture of emotions for Rupp.
"It was bittersweet," he said. "I was excited to be there, but I knew it marked the end of my swimming career."
Both Rupp and Gergen are part of a small senior core for a very young Raiders team. This has resulted in the five of them getting close.
"My senior year has been very special," Gergen said. "Not only was it the culmination of all of my years of training, but it was my last chance at state as a high school swimmer. I've been with some of these teammates for over five years or more, and I have been with my coaches since seventh grade. It was my last chance to succeed with them."
"We have gotten to know each other better, which led us to become closer," Rupp said. "Many memories have been made."