Boys Swimming and Diving: An era ends with a Warrior win
Brainerd hosted Fergus Falls in a Central Lakes Conference meet Thursday, Feb. 25.
Steve Kuepers’ name was once on the record board hanging in the Brainerd High School pool.
His wife, Alissa was on the Warriors girls swimming and diving team.
Their son Mason thought about trying to put his name on the record board Thursday, Feb. 25, and what a time to do it as it was likely the final boys’ event to happen in that pool. Barring major construction delays, the Brainerd Warriors boys’ team will be competing in a new pool next year. The new pool may not be ready for the first few Warrior girls events next fall.
“This pool has been in Brainerd since the ‘60s (1968), I think,” Mason Kuepers said. “It will be kind of sad to see it go, but at the same time, I think our new pool will be so much better. The memories were nice, but it’s good to move on.”
The trivia question moving forward will be who won the last boys’ event in the old Brainerd pool. The answer will be Thomas Ruhl, Tristan Dawson, Cade Rosenwald and Mason Kuepers, who captured the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3:25.16. It was forfeited, however, as Brainerd already built a big enough lead to sink the Fergus Falls Otters 97-73 in the final regular-season event of the year.
“The only record we were trying to get was the medley relay, which we missed by less than a second,” Ruhl said. “All of us had good swims and that, but we weren’t quick enough today. We weren’t even close to any of the others.”
Ruhl made the most of his final event in the old Brainerd pool. He won the 50 free in 22.70 and beat out Kuepers in the 100 free with a 50.08. Kuepers posted a second-place 50.41. Along with the 400 free relay, Ruhl was on the winning medley with Dawson, Parker Tatge and Rosenwald.
Kuepers teamed with Rosenwald, Tatge and Sam McCulley to win the 200 free relay.
They both shared their fondest memory in the old pool.
“There has definitely been a lot of fun practices and a lot of fun times with the team,” Kuepers said. “I especially loved the New Year’s Eve practices. All the lights go off and we do 160 50-yard sprints. It’s pretty fun and then we all go to Perkins afterward.”
Ruhl couldn’t agree more about his favorite day in the pool only saying by the time they go to breakfast at Perkins it's lunchtime.
Boys Swimming and Diving: Ruhl, Warriors rule Apollo
Thursday also marked parents and senior night. Dawson is the lone senior on the Warriors’ roster. He capped his home career with a winning time of 58.15 in the backstroke.
Boys Swimming and Diving: Warriors even up conference record with blowout
Cayden Sumption scored a victory in the 200 individual medley. Jalen Emslander won the diving followed by Wyatt Gabrielson in second and David Rollins in third.
Rosenwald won the 100 butterfly in 55.46 and Parker Tatge posted a first-place 1:08.97 in the breaststroke.
Former boys and girls head swimming coach Willy Severson said it’s about time Brainerd catches up to other facilities in the state.
“The pool has a lot of great history to it and we’ve had a lot of great swimmers come through there,” Severson said. “We’ve had high school All-Americans, kids that were All-State, but at the same time, I’m excited about the future with the new pool because the new pool is where all the other pools in the state of Minnesota are at. We’re finally catching up with an eight-lane pool and separate diving well. We’ll be able to host conference championships and section championships. I’m just excited that this is going to happen.”
Severson was a head coach from 1975 to 89 and coached the boys’ team for 12 years and the girls’ team for nine seasons. He said working with the student-athletes and building top-caliber teams are his fondest memories of the old place.
He remembered a time when fans couldn’t even see what was going on during events. Severson said sometime in the late 70s they added windows to the pool that would be lowered and fans could at least hear the action happening in the pool below.
Former Brained Warrior and Class 2A state champion swimmer Jared Anderson echoed Severson’s excitement for a new pool in Brainerd.
He remembered how when he was a Warrior, Anderson graduated in 2009, the starting blocks were on the shallow end of the pool instead of where they are located now.
“I have a lot of memories in that pool and I definitely spent a lot of hours there for sure,” Anderson said. “It’s pretty exciting for them to be getting a new facility. We always kind of had a love-hate relationship with that old pool. There is definitely a home-pool advantage with that place because other teams didn’t like swimming there. There wasn’t a lot of space and usually, that was a big advantage for us.”
Anderson, who is the son of Brainerd girls head coach Dan Anderson, is the head boys swimming at Hopkins. A few years ago, Anderson brought his Royals to the Warrior Holiday Invite. He said the Brainerd pool is comparable to what his team has at Hopkins, but said he’s never seen another pool that has the fan seating outside in a hallway with windows separating the fans from the action.
“I definitely remember that atmosphere in there and how loud it would get for meets,” Anderson said. “You feel each other’s moral support while you were swimming because there wasn’t a lot of area for the sound to go. I think we got used to swimming there and it was a badge of honor to swim fast in a place a lot of other teams would struggle to swim at.”
Brainerd 97, Fergus Falls 73
200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Parker Tatge, Cade Rosenwald, Thomas Ruhl) 1:42.36; 2-Brainerd (Nate Chausse, Branden Brichacek, Lance Zemke, Sam McCulley) 1:55.83
200 freestyle: 1-Sean Edman (FF) 1:55.16, 3-Baden Bastien (Brd) 2:02.13, 4-Nolan Thiesse (Brd) 2:03.16, DQ-Mason Kuepers (Brd)
200 individual medley: 1-Cayden Sumption (Brd) 2:14.56, 2-McCulley 2:23.67, 5-Brichacek 2:32.57
50 freestyle: 1-Ruhl 22.70, 2-Tatge 24.33, 4-David Rollins (Brd) 24.91
Diving: 1-Jalen Emslander (Brd) 185.75, 2-Wyatt Gabrielson (Brd) 182.05, 3-Rollins 165.65
100 butterfly: 1-Rosenwald 55.46, 2-Dawson 57.13, 3-Zemke 1:02.69
100 freestyle: 1-Ruhl 50.08, 2-Mason Kuepers 50.41, 4-Bastien 54.00
500 freestyle: 1-Christian Reed (FF) 5:36.55, 2-Thiesse 5:38.51, 3-Logan Kuepers (Brd) 5:53.83, 4-Josh Eberts (Brd) 5:59.56
200 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Dawson, Rosenwald, Tatge, Mason Kuepers) 1:35.12; 3-Brainerd (Bastien, Thiesse, McCulley, Sumption) 1:41.69
100 backstroke: 1-Dawson 58.15, 2-Zemke 1:02.67, 5-Alex Kuepers (Brd) 1:11.44
100 breaststroke: 1-Tatge 1:08.97, 2-Sumption 1:10.09, 5-Brichacek 1:17.22
400 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Ruhl, Dawson, Rosenwald, Mason Kuepers) 3:25.16; 3-Brainerd (Bastien, Zemke, Sumption, McCulley) 3:44.09
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warriors 97, Fergus Falls 73
Key: Warriors won 10 events and swept the diving
Conf: Brd 4-3, FF 0-7
Overall: Brd 5-3, FF 1-10
Next: Brainerd in Section 8-2A meet at St. Cloud Tech 12:40 p.m. Friday, March 12.