Boys Swimming and Diving: Warriors secure convincing win over Apollo

The Brainerd Warriors hosted the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles Thursday, Jan. 5.

Nolan Thiesse
Nolan Thiesse
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BRAINERD — After eight events in a 12-event competition, the Brainerd Warriors were already forfeiting team points.

Meaning the competition wasn’t against the visiting St. Cloud Apollo Eagles Thursday, Jan. 5, at the Brainerd High School Aquatic Center, but more so against themselves.

Case in point, despite not scoring any points in the final four events, Brainerd still defeated the Eagles 101-70. Apollo only had 12 student-athletes in grades 7-12.

The biggest competition Thursday came in the sprints where teammates Nolan Thiesse and Sam McCulley squared off twice.

“Our coaches work on discipline a lot,” Thiesse said. “So not focusing really on who is next to you. It’s really about focusing on yourself and focusing on what you can do better in practice and out of practice because that translates. If you work hard in practice and stay motivated and disciplined it doesn’t matter what the competition brings, you’re going to bring it when it comes to the meets.”


Thiesse got the better of McCulley in the 50-yard freestyle as he posted a second-place 24.33 to McCulley’s third-place 24.38. Both trailed teammate Mason Kuepers who dropped a 22.18 to win the event.

Just having that teammate push you and having someone to key off of and work a little harder against in practice helps.
Nolan Thiesse

“It’s definitely a change of pace,” Thiesse said of swimming sprints instead of distance events. Last year he was mainly in the 200 and 500 freestyles. The cross-country runner has the aerobic capacity to swim distance events, but he’s also got the speed for the sprints.

“It’s a lot less intimidating with a 100 vs. a 500,” Thiesse added. “There’s a lot different things to work on. Flip-turns are a lot more important. You need to have those really quick. Starts are way more important than the 500. Things like that. The little things really count in those sprint races where in the 500 you can have a couple of bad turns, but make it up. In those sprint races, you have to have everything perfect, otherwise, you’re not going to do well.”

In the 100 freestyle, McCulley captured the win with a 52.46. Thiesse was on his heels with a second-place 52.82.

“It felt really good,” Thiesse said “This is my first year doing spring events, but I felt like it went pretty well. I swam within a second of my shaved and tapered time from last year. That’s really impressive. Hopefully, I just keep getting better and putting down some more good times.”

While the two want to score as many points as they can for the team, the coveted prize for being a top freestyler is to land a spot on one of the three relays. Currently, McCulley swims the freestyle leg of the 200 medley relay. He’s also the third leg of the 200 free.

Thiesse swims the third leg of Brainerd’s 400 free relay.

The Warriors finished first and second in all three relay events.


“I’d say right now the competition is really big,” Theisse said. “Sam is right there with me. It’s kind of like me and Ben Stadum in cross-country, this last fall. Just having that teammate push you and having someone to key off of and work a little harder against in practice helps. I’m working for a spot in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay and fighting for a spot on that section team.”

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Brainerd’s Parker Tatge was a double winner as he won the 200 and 500 freestyles. Logan Kuepers was second in both events.

Cayden Sumption won both of his individual events. He swam a 2:12.28 to win the 200 individual medley and a 1:05.31 to win the breaststroke.

Mason Kuepers added the 100 butterfly to his first-place list with a time of 52.92.

Wyatt Gabrielson scored a 225.25 to win the diving with Nash Gabrielson in second and Sebastian Tisdell in third.

Nathan Chaussee rounded out the first-place finishers with a win in the backstroke.

“It’s always a race against the clock,” Thiesse said. “These last two meets that we’ve had, besides the invite, no offense to those teams, but they just haven’t been on our level yet. The coaches just tell us to race the clock and race our teammates and to just push ourselves whether or not the competition is up there.”

Brainerd 101, Apollo 70

200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Nathan Chaussee, Cayden Sumption, Mason Kuepers, Sam McCulley) 1:42.42; 2-Brainerd (Alex Kuepers, Brenden Brichacek, Drew Haglin, Kyler Carlson) 1:51.00

200 freestyle: 1-Parker Tatge (Brd) 1:54.84, 2-Logan Kuepers (Brd) 2:01.08, 3-Brooks Brichacek (Brd) 2:04.02

200 individual medley: 1-Sumption 2:12.28, 2-Brenden Brickacek 2:20.90, 3-Carlson 2:21.94

50 freestyle: 1-Mason Kuepers 22.18, 2-Nolan Thiesse (Brd) 24.33, 3-McCulley 24.38

Diving: 1-Wyatt Gabrielson (Brd) 225.25, 2-Nash Gabrielson (Brd) 185.3, 3-Sebastian Tisdell (Brd), 146.85

100 butterfly: 1-Mason Kuepers 52.92, 3-Chaussee 59.99, 4-Haglin 1:00.36

100 freestyle: 1-McCulley 52.46, 2-Thiesse 52.82, 3-Alex Kuepers 1:00.13

500 freestyle: 1-Tatge 5;13.61, 2-Logan Kuepers 5:24.08, 3-Brooks Brichacek 5:38.54

200 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Mason Kuepers, Sumption, McCulley, Tatge) 1:33.51; 2-Brainerd (Carlson, Brenden Brichacek, Brooks Brichacek, Thiesse) 1:39.69

100 backstroke: 1-Chaussee 59.51, 2-Weston Thiesse 1:05.65, 3-Alex Kuepers 1:06.57

100 breaststroke: 1-Sumption 1:05.31, 3-Brenden Brichacek 1:09.07, 4-Carlson 1:14.07

400 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Tatge, Chausse, Thiesse, Logan Kuepers) 3:38.56; 2-Brainerd (Spencer Porter, Brooks Brichacek, Weston Thiesse, Alex Kuepers) 3:55.28

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


Warriors 101, Apollo 70

Key: Brainerd won every event and placed first and second in all but two events

Conference: Brd 1-0, SCA 1-1

Overall: Brd 2-0, SCA 1-1

Next: Brainerd at Fergus Falls 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12.

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