State Swimming: Podium in sight for Warrior swimmers

Dylan Paulson of the Brainerd Warriors 200-yard medley relay team celebrates after looking at the team's new school record time during the Class 2A State Swimming Prelims Friday, Feb. 28, at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

Brainerd’s 200-yard medley relay broke a school record and in the process landed a spot in the championship flight during the Class 2A state Swimming Prelims Friday, Feb. 28, at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

The foursome of Tristan Dawson, Parker Tatge, Cade Rosenwald and Dylan Paulson posted a 1:36.38 for the eighth-fastest time. The top eight teams compete in the championship flight. Places 9-16 advance to the consolation flight of Saturday’s Class 2A Finals.
“We got three out of the four with lifetime best splits and the other one was pretty close,” Warriors head coach John Zemke said. “We didn’t get all four to hit, but we got another race tomorrow. Getting the school record and finishing in the top eight was big for us.”

The Warriors were seeded 11th, but dropped more than a second from its seed time of 1:37.43.

“We were fortunate enough to be in the third heat and not the first heat where the atmosphere is still starting to get cranked up,” Zemke said. “Being in that third heat helped and once we saw that the guys, they were pretty confident going in, but that really boosted the confidence for the rest of the swims today.”

Dawson also landed a championship spot in the 100 backstroke with yet another school record time of 51.29. He’s sitting fifth after the prelims. Dawson’s former school record was his third-place seed time of 51.80, which he swam for the Section 8-2A championship.


“That’s an incredibly fast time and he’s .27 out of second place so that isn’t a whole lot of time,” Zemke said. “He’s sitting fifth; in the top eight. He definitely has a shot to go after the runner-up spot. He’s excited. He said he had a few walls he could have been better and a couple of turns he thought could have been better. We’ll clean those up for tomorrow and away we go.”

Brainerd’s 400 free relay moved up two spots from its seed to place 13th and grab a spot in Saturday’s consolation finals. Brainerd was seeded 15th with a 3:16.79. The foursome of Paulson, Dawson, Rosenwald and Conner Lund dropped to 3:15.79.

“They went a second faster than they did at the section meet,” Zemke said. “We’ll take the time improvement and the place from our original seed.”

Freshman Mason Kuepers placed 18th in the 200 free and 20th in the 500 free to miss out on Saturday’s finals.

“Mason, he was pretty nervous in that 200 free,” Zemke said. “He relaxed a little bit and had a very good 500. He dropped more than a second in that. You know, for a freshman coming down, he did a great job.

“You could just see the wheels turning when he walked into that pool. He’s been in that pool a lot, but it’s a whole lot different atmosphere than a YMCA state meet. I thought he was the same as he always is and he’s just a quiet, humble young man. I thought he handled today very well.”

The goal for Saturday is to go even faster said Zemke.

“We’re thrilled with how today went,” Zemke said. “It was good swims all the way around. We landed some good places, fast swims, fast splits. It was a good day.


“I think we can move up (Saturday). In the medley, we’re about a second faster than what the school record was before. We’re going to hope to go 1:35 and if we can move up a spot or two that would be fantastic. I know for Tristan, he would really love to go a 50 in the 100 backstroke and move up from his seed tonight. Then in the 400, and in both relays, if we can get all the guys to have their splits all together we can move up a couple of places that would be fantastic. That would be a great way to finish the season.”

Prelim results
200 medley relay: 1-Wayzata 1:32.82, 8-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Parker Tatge, Cade Rosenwald, Dylan Paulson) 1:36.38
200 freestyle: 1-Charlie Webb (Edina) 1:40.29, 18-Mason Kuepers (Brd) 1:48.16
500 freestyle: 1-Matt Strom (Rochester Century) 4:34.15, 20-Kuepers (Brd) 4:54.80
100 backstroke: 1-Casey Stowe (Wayzata) 49.02, 5-Tristan Dawson 51.29
400 freestyle relay: 1-Chanhassen-Chaska 3:06.39, 13-Brainerd (Paulson, Dawson, Rosenwald, Conner Lund) 3:15.79
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