Boys Swimming and Diving: Warriors battle early adversity to top Sartell

The Brainerd Warriors hosted the Sartell Sabres Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Parker Tatge swims the 200 freestyle
Brainerd Warrior Parker Tatge swims the 200-yard freestyle against Sartell Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in the Brainerd High School Aquatic Center.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Coming off an appearance in the Class 2A State True Team meet, the Brainerd Warriors apparently wanted to show off just how good their team really is Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Facing the Sartell Sabres in a Central Lakes Conference clash of unbeatens, the Warriors opened the dual by placing first and second in the 200-yard medley relay only to learn moments later that both relays were disqualified for quick exchanges.

That handed Sartell a 12-0 lead, but the Warriors chipped away and tied the score 38-38 after Brainerd’s divers finished second, third and fourth. Brainerd would go on to remain unbeaten with a 103-81 victory.

“The depth obviously is what got us through,” Warrior head coach John Zemke said. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years and never have I seen both relays in any meet, let alone one of ours, get disqualified. I didn’t see it. Obviously, it happened and our guys responded well and we were able to pick up the win.

“To start off the meet thinking you went 1-2 only to learn the other team went 1-2 is a tough way to start.”


No one was more shocked than senior captain Parker Tatge. When he entered the water for the 200 freestyle — the event following the medley relay — his Warriors owned a comfortable lead. When he got out of the water, they faced a large deficit.

“I heard it after my 200 free,” Tatge said. “It was dead over by the bench and I was a little confused and they were talking about how both medley relays got disqualified. I didn’t believe it at first and so I checked with the coaches and they said it was true.

“I thought the meet was over because I didn’t know how that was going to score out, but I was a little bummed. I tried my best to not let it affect my own races because that wasn’t going to help at all to worry about it.”

Tatge finished second in the 200 free as well as the 500 free. He helped Brainerd’s 400 free relay to second and the 200 free relay to first. In both his individual events, Tatge followed Sartell’s Carlson Truett.

“For the 200, I would have really liked to have beaten Truett,” Tatge said. “He beat me last year at sections by less than a second and based off the time I went on Saturday, I would have beaten him by half a second if I could have swam that again. So I was hoping to give him a run for his money, but things don’t always happen like you want them to. After that, I just tried my best not to worry about it and be glad I didn’t get chased down by (Sartell’s Jackson Hovada).

Cayden Sumption won the 200 individual medley with Kyler Carlson in third and Drew Haglin in fourth. That was followed by Mason Kuepers’ winning 50 free time of 21.98. Nolan Thiesse was third and Sam McCulley placed fourth.

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Wyatt Gabrielson was clipped on the sixth and final dive for first place in diving. The senior scored a 268 to finish second behind Sartell’s David Binsfeld, but Nash Gabrielson placed third and David Herath fourth.

Brenden Brichacek led a swarm of Warriors in the 100 butterfly. Brichacek placed second in 59.22. Right behind him were Nathan Chaussee and Drew Haglin who tied for third with 59.54s.


“Right now we’re in survival mode,” Zemke said. “We’ve had five meets in 11 days and we have another one on Thursday. We’re running on fumes, but we really count these days as workout days and we'll try to recover tomorrow and swim against an Alexandria team that beat us last year.”

Later in the meet, Sartell returned Brainerd’s earlier favor by having its winning 200 free relay disqualified to give the Warriors a first- and second-place finish in that event.

Chaussee added a first-place finish in the backstroke and the Warriors went second (Sumption), third (Brenden Brichacek) and fourth (Carlson) in the breaststroke.

“Coming off last year we had a couple of studs in Cade Rosenwald and Thomas Ruhl, but we also lost a lot of depth guys as well,” Tatge said. “Coming into this season there was a lot of worries that we might not be super good. At the start of the season, we thought we might just be chasing what we were last year and we’ve become much more than that.”

Brainerd 103, Sartell 81

200 medley relay: 1-Sartell 1:51.03

200 freestyle: 1-Carlson Truett (Sar) 1:50.73, 2-Parker Tatge (Brd) 1:51.85, 4-Logan Kuepers (Brd) 1:58.88, 5-Brooks Brichacek (Brd) 2:02.39

200 individual medley: 1-Cayden Sumption (Brd) 2:09.9, 3-Kyler Carlson (Brd) 2:17.82, 4-Drew Haglin (Brd) 2:19.34

50 freestyle: 1-Mason Kuepers (Brd) 21.98, 3-Nolan Thiesse (Brd)24.09, 4-Sam McCulley (Brd) 24.19

Diving: 1-David Binsfeld (Sar) 284.2, 2-Wyatt Gabrielson (Brd) 268.1, 3-Nash Gabrielson 195.45, 4-David Herath (Brd) 190.5

100 butterfly: 1-Hayden Lenarz (Sar) 56.53, 2-Brenden Brichacek (Brd) 59.22, 3t-Nathan Chaussee (Brd) 59.54, 3t-Drew Haglin (Brd) 59.54

100 freestyle: 1-Mason Kuepers 49.00, 3-McCulley 52.73, 4-Thiesse 53.41

500 freestyle: 1-Truett 5:03.56, 2-Tatge 5:08.36, 3-Logan Kuepers 5:20.00, 4-Brooks Brichacek 5:36.68

200 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Mason Kuepers, Tatge, Sumption, McCulley) 1:32.45; 2-Brainerd (Carlson, Spencer Porter, Atreyu Marcelo, Nolan Thiesse) 1:37.11

100 backstroke: 1-Nathan Chaussee (Brd) 59.17, 4-Weston Thiesse (Brd) 1:03.46, 5-Alex Kuepers (Brd) 1:04.96

100 breaststroke: 1-George Larson (Sar) 1:03.14, 2-Sumption 1:03.48, 3-Brenden Brichacek 1:07.45, 4-Carlson 1:11.37

400 freestyle relay: 1-Sartell 3:33.41, 2-Brainerd (Tatge, Chaussee, Porter, Thiesse) 3:35.1; 3-Brainerd (Drew Haglin, Brooks Brichacek, Sam Mattson, Logan Kuepers) 3:50.18

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

Brainerd 103, Sartell 81

Key: Brainerd’s depth propelled the Warriors to victory

Conference: Brd 5-0, Sar 2-1

Overall: Brd 6-0, Sar 3-1


Next: Brainerd hosts Alexandria 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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