Boys Swimming and Diving: Warriors even up conference record with blowout

The Brainerd Warriors hosted Sauk Rapids in a Central Lakes Conference contest

Tristan Dawson competes in the 200-yard medley relay Thursday, Feb. 18, against Sauk Rapids at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Tristan Dawson is broken, beaten and sore.

His back looks like a domino piece from cupping. A practice made famous by Michael Phelps during the last Summer Olympics that is used to stimulate blood flow to muscles, but leaves round marks where they are applied.

The lone senior on the Brainerd Warriors is tired. He’s dog tired, but he’s got his sights set on state.

Dawson won the 100-yard butterfly and would have been on two winning relays had a false start not cost the Warriors’ 400 free relay a victory. Throw in a second place in the 50 free and Dawson helped the Warriors to a 113-71 Central Lakes Conference victory over Sauk Rapids Thursday, Feb. 18, at Brainerd High School.

“It’s nice to win races, but at the same time the time is what really matters to me,” Dawson said. “I’m a little frustrated with how things are going, but that’s just the way things are. It builds a lot of mental toughness so that will be useful going forward.”


Dawson topped runner-up Lance Zemke in the fly. Brainerd’s Nathan Chausse was fifth as Brainerd’s victory was never in jeopardy Thursday.

Brainerd Boys Swimming vs Sauk Rapids

His winning time of 47.88 was almost five seconds faster than the field.

“It’s not where I want to be, but it’s good for this year,” Dawson said. “I’m definitely pretty tired right now so as we begin to rest over the next couple of weeks those times will start to come down.”

Dawson finished second to Thomas Ruhl in the 50 freestyle. Ruhl won in 22.80 with Dawson finishing 24.11 and Parker Tatge, back from injury, placing fifth in 24.64.

“It was decent,” Dawson said. “I haven’t swam that since my sophomore year. It is good for what it was. It’s fun trying out different events and trying to get a feel for them. Some kids have surprised us like Sam McCulley. Coming into this year, he was expected to be more of a 50 and 100 guy. He’s swam the 200 individual medley and he’s done great in that. I think mixing up the events has been beneficial for us.”

Warrior head coach John Zemke admitted he’s mixed up his lineup this year more than in years past. It wasn’t a problem Thursday as Brainerd won eight events.

Ruhl won the 50 and backstroke. He was also on the winning 200 medley and 200 free relays.


Mason Kuepers won the 200 freestyle. Cade Rosenwald was a double winner in the 200 individual medley and the 100 free.

“Normally, I’m not that creative with what we’re doing but I’m trying to do so many different things because we don’t have a lot of meets and we don’t have a lot of time to figure out what we want to do,” Zemke said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do with Kuepers so we’ve been moving him around, but we also want to try and give some guys a break once in a while. It’s hard to swim the same event over and over. They’re responding well. The training is going great. We’re healthy and we’re looking forward to one more dual and then getting some serious rest before the section meet.”

Ruhl swam a 58.45 to better Zemke, who finished second. Nathan Chausse placed fifth.

“You get some nice surprises like that and sometimes as a coach you get stuck in a rut as far as putting kids in events, but it is nice we have the option to move kids around and race in some different events and that part has been a lot of fun.”

Ruhl and Dawson teamed with Cayden Sumption and Rosenwald to win the 200 medley in 1:42.41. Ruhl, Rosenwald, Sumption and Kuepers posted a winning 1:33.96 to claim the 200 free. The 400 freestyle of Baden Bastien, Dawson, McCulley and Kuepers would have won but McCully went too early on his start.

“It’s super exciting,” Dawson said. “The ultimate goal is to send those relays to state. That’s a real possibility this year and it’s always fun to bring as many guys as we can to that meet.”


LAST MEET: Boys Swimming and Diving: Ruhl, Warriors rule Apollo

Warriors 113, Sauk Rapids 71
200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Cayden Sumption, Cade Rosenwald, Thomas Ruhl) 1:42.41; 3-Brainerd (Lance Zemke, Parker Tatge, Nate Chaussee, David Rollins) 1:54.86
200 freestyle: 1-Mason Kuepers (Brd) 1:50.67, 3-Baden Bastien (Brd) 2:02.48, 4-Nolan Thiesse (Brd) 2:03.56
200 individual medley: 1-Rosenwald 2:11.45, 3-Sumption 2:15.29, 4-Sam McCulley (Brd) 2:26.48
50 freestyle: 1-Ruhl 22.80, 2-Dawson 24.11, 5-Tatge 24.64
Diving: 1-Elijah Grabinski (SR) 243.25, 2-Jalen Emslander (Brd) 193.25, 4-Rollins (170.45, 6-Wyatt Gabrielson (Brd) 156.80
100 butterfly: 1-Dawson 57.88, 2-Zemke 102.17, 5-Chaussee 1:07.88
100 freestyle: 1-Rosenwald 51.11, 3-McCulley 55.91, 4-Josh Eberts (Brd) 56.81
500 freestyle: 1-Cash Walz (SR) 5:05.19, 2-Mason Kuepers 5:11.25, 3-Bastien 5:37.64, 4-Thiesse 5:37.96
200 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Ruhl, Rosenwald, Sumption, Kuepers) 1:33.96; 3-Brainerd (Tatge, McCulley, Rollins, Bastien) 1:40.16
100 backstroke: 1-Ruhl 58.45, 2-Zemke 1:03.41, 5-Chaussee 1:07.73
100 breaststroke: 1-Tucker Hendrickson (SR) 1:04.37, 2-Sumption 1:10.30, 3-Tatge 1:10.52, 5-Branden Brichaceck (Brd) 1:17.57
400 freestyle relay: 1-Sauk Rapids 3:39.05; 2-Brainerd (Thiesse, Zemke, Eberts, Chaussee) 3:53.38 DQ-Brainerd (Bastien, Dawson, Mason Kuepers, McCulley)

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Warriors 113, Sauk Rapids 71

Key: Warriors win eight events

Conf: Brd 3-3, SR 2-5

Overall: Brd 4-3, SR 3-5

Next: Brainerd hosts Fergus Falls 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25

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