Boys Swimming and Diving: 6 Warriors headed to state

Tristan Dawson

ELK RIVER — Tristan Dawson had a day.

The Brainerd Warriors junior won the Section 8-2A 100-yard backstroke with a pool and section record 51.80 to help the Warriors finish section behind Maple Grove Saturday, Feb. 22.

Dawson was seeded first after the section prelims, but dropped 2.33 seconds off that time for the section title. He also helped Brainerd’s 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays to second-place finishes and spots in next week’s Class 2A State Meet.

“It was just a fantastic race,” Warrior head coach John Zemke said of Dawson. “I’ve never seen him better underwater. The swimmer that won it last year was right next to him so it was those two going at it. Every time Tristan would come off the wall after a turn, he’d be half a body ahead. Tristan really used his walls and underwater to put together a fantastic race with a huge time drop.”

In all, Brainerd will send six individuals to the state meet. Mason Kuepers will be competing in the 200 and 500 freestyles as he posted runner-up finishes in both.


“Mason would fall behind and then he would make a late charge and here he would come,” Zemke said. “His third 50 was really key. Normally the third 50 is the slowest of the four in the 200 free. He got behind and made a late charge and passed a kid for second. If he would have had 10 more yards, I think he would have won the race. He was closing ground and it was great to see a freshman go out there and qualify for a state meet in a fast section. It was really a thrill.”

Kuepers was seeded No. 1 heading into the 500. St. Cloud Tech’s Tom Hoffmann clipped Kuepers in the final.

“We don’t talk about pressure,” Zemke said. “But in the 500 free, kids can really lay back during the prelims and as long as they’re in the top eight they have a great chance. That’s what happened. The kid who won the 500 also won it last year so he was laying back. Mason did the same thing. He hung with the pack, fell into third and then made a late push to get into second. He was closing ground and if he would have had a little more real estate he might have won that one. They were very, very close.”

The medley relay of Dawson, Parker Tate, Cade Rosenwald and Dylan Paulson advanced with a second-place 1:37.43.

Connor Lund anchored the second-place 400 free relay with Dawson, Paulson and Rosenwald to a second-place finish. The 400 dropped 6.25 seconds from its prelim time.

“That medley relay is four-tenths off our school record so hopefully going down to state we can set that and put some new names up on the board,” Zemke said. “We thought the 400 had a chance. Going in, our best time was a 3:23 and we went 3:16 Saturday. Conner Lund has been in more situations anchoring relays the last couple of years than any kid I can ever remember. We put Conner at the end last year, he was the fourth swimmer in the 200 free relay, and they won by a 100th of a second. This year, St. Michael was making a charge and Conner held on and we ended up second.”

Brainerd had a few near misses with Rosenwald getting fourth in the 200 individual medley. Paulson was fourth in the 100 free and Thomas Ruhl was fourth in the backstroke. Izaac Herrlich placed sixth in diving with 384.25 points.

“Divers did a great job this year,” Zemke said. “There are three seniors in there and they scored a lot of points throughout the year. It was difficult because we added Sauk Rapids to the section and they have a very good diver that took one of those four (state) spots. Between fourth and sixth it was close.”


Brainerd placed second as a team behind Maple Grove. Zemke was named section coach of the year. Carl Schirmer was named assistant coach of the year.

“We knew with Maple Grove having every single point back from last year that they were untouchable,” Zemke said. “We were hoping to beat St. Michael and get a trophy. Anytime you can take a trophy picture right on the deck after a meet that’s kind of a thrill for the kids. Anytime we can steal a trophy at a section meet it’s a great day.”

Team scores: 1-Maple Grove 422, 2-Brainerd 322, 3-St. Michael-Albertville 300, 4-Elk River 273, 5-Buffalo 240, 6-Sauk Rapids 236, 7-St. Cloud Tech 175, 8-Moorhead 135
200 medley relay: 1-Maple Grove 1:36.60; 2-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Parker Tatge, Cade Rosenwald, Dylan Paulson) 1:37.43
200 freestyle: 1-Elijah Christenson (STMA) 1:47.28, 2-Mason Kuepers (Brd) 1:47.83, 13-Baden Bastien (Brd) 1:55.53,
200 individual medley: 1-Kelby Modene (MG) 1:54.94, 4-Rosenwald 2:04.02, 5-Thomas Ruhl (Brd) 2:05.18, 8-Tatge 2:08.28
50 freestyle: 1-Daniel Baltes (MG) 21.51, 7-Paulson 22.65, 13-Lund 23.00
Diving: 1-Sam Hlavachek (ER) 504.95, 6-Izaac Herrlich 384.25, 12-Cruz Lemmerhirt 312.75, 13-Blake Cummings 310.25
100 butterfly: 1-Christianson (STMA) 51.79, 5-Dawson 53.15, 6-Rosenwald 53.69
100 freestyle: 1-Baltes (MG) 4.63, 4-Paulson 49.92, 7-Lund 50.32, 12-Noe Sorge (Brd) 51.02
500 freestyle: 1-Tom Hoffmann (SCT) 4:55.42, 2-Kuepers 4:55.81, 16-Bastien 5:25.88
200 freestyle relay: 1-Buffalo 1:28.57; 6-Brainerd (Lund, Tatge, Kuepers, Sorge) 1:31.66
100 backstroke: 1-Dawson 51.80, 4-Ruhl 55.56, 15-Lance Zemke 1:01.64
100 breaststroke: 1-Modene (MG) 57.12, 5-Tatge 1:01.97
400 freestyle relay: 1-Maple Grove 3:14.57, 2-Brainerd (Paulson, Dawson, Rosenwald, Lund) 3:16.79
Next: Brainerd in state meet at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27-Saturday, Feb. 29.
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