Swimming and Diving: Paulson, Warriors swim to Invite victory

Brainerd Warrior Parker Tatge swims the breaststroke Friday, Dec. 27, in the 200-yard medley relay during the Brainerd Invitational at Brainerd High School. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Dylan Paulson’s goals are pretty lofty.

All indications are they should be despite being early in the swimming and diving season. The senior for the Brainerd Warriors won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and anchored two winning relays to help the Warriors claim the Brainerd Invite Friday, Dec. 27, at Brainerd High School.

Paulson won the 50 in 23.56 and the 100 in 51.54.

“In the 50, the gameplan was to not breathe as much as I normally do,” Paulson said. “I just put my head down and cranked it out. I imagine my race before I swim so I wasn’t really nervous. I just wanted to swim my best.

“A big meet like this will prepare me for bigger meets down the road like sections. The first three meets we were going against smaller teams and the competition wasn’t really there. I was more nervous about this one because of the competition and it definitely pushed me, especially in that medley relay.”


Paulson’s times in last year’s Section 8-2A meet after tapering were 23.83 in the 50 and 52.05 in the 100. He’s posting faster times already.

“I lifted a lot during the offseason and I did a lot more training during the offseason,” Paulson said. “It’s really helped me in the pool.”

He anchored the 200 medley relay with Tristan Dawson, Parker Tatge and Cade Rosenwald to a first-place time of 1:41.90.

“This is going to be great,” Paulson said. “We were looking for the pool record. We aren’t that far off. We’re coming for it next meet. We’re going to send this relay to state and hopefully break the Brainerd record at state. That would be great.”

One of the members on the school record medley relay is Jared Anderson, who is the head coach at Hopkins. His Royals placed third behind Duluth and ahead of Melrose/Sauk Centre.

Paulson teamed with Connor Lund, Tatge and Mason Kuepers to win the 200 free relay in 1:35.53.

Brainerd collected its most points early in the day as diving finished first, second, third and fourth. Izaac Herrlich won the competition with 233.25 points. He was followed by Cruz Lemmerhirt in second, Blake Cummings in third and Jalen Emslander in fourth.


“Obviously diving we outscored everyone by a ton,” Warriors head coach John Zemke said. “That made a big difference, but Duluth has a very good team and they have a very good chance to win their section. It’s fun to have some teams we don’t normally see throughout the year.

“It’s also invaluable competing against somebody who is just as fast as you are. When it comes down to it, it’s going to be a hundredth of a second and this is a very good experience for us today. We need a lot more of this.”

Kuepers posted a first-place time of 1:52.80 in the 200 freestyle and battled to second place in a nip-and-tuck swim in the 500 free.

“That was a great race,” Zemke said. “When it goes like that it’s a great race otherwise you’re watching a 500 where people are a pool length behind. Hats off to the Hopkins kid. He had a great race and obviously for Mason, last year at the section meet, Mason was 5:06. He’s 5.07 already. He also had a very good day today and that was a fun race to watch.”

Tristan Dawson finished off the Warrior wins with a first-place 54.77 in the backstroke.

Lund placed second behind Paulson in the 100 freestyle and Tatge was second in the breaststroke. The 400 free relay of Lund, Rosenwald, Kuepers and Dawson placed second.

“It was important to get good races,” Zemke said. “We really haven’t had a meet where the competition is going to be like it was not only today, but also in the next few weeks. The next few weeks are huge for us. It’s the bulk of our schedule against some very, very good teams. But it was fun to watch today. I was impressed by a lot of swims.”


Team scores: 1-Brainerd 613, 2-Duluth 594, 3-Hopkins 499, 4-Melrose/Sauk Centre 367
200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Parker Tatge, Cade Rosenwald, Dylan Paulson) 1:41.90; 5-Brainerd (Thomas Ruhl, Tennyson Kelm, Lance Zemke, Noe Sorge) 1:54.88, 9-Brainerd (Josh Eberts, Izaac Herrlich, Tyler Laporte, David Rollins) 2:09.80
200 freestyle: 1-Mason Kuepers (Brd) 1:52.80, 11-Sam Mattson (Brd) 2:04.55, 12-Baden Bastien (Brd) 2:05.44, 14-Tennyson Kelm (Brd) 2:13.80
200 individual medley: 1-Grant Wodny (Duluth) 2:03.23, 3-Rosenwald (Brd) 2:08.01, 4-Tatge 2:15.03, 6-Ruhl 2:17.97, 10-Tyler LaPorte (Brd) 2:28.30
50 freestyle: 1-Dylan Paulson (Brd) 23.56, 4-Connor Lund 23.86, 10-Sorge 24.76, 16-David Rollins 30.00
Diving: 1-Izaac Herrlich (Brd) 223.25, 2-Cruz Lemmerhirt (Brd) 194.05, 3-Blake Cummings (Brd) 188.85, 4-Jalen Emslander (Brd) 144.70
100 butterfly: 1-Elliot Berman (Hopkins) 53.33, 4-Tristan Dawson 56.50, 5-Rosenwald 57.14, 8-Zemke 1:05.47, 13-Daniel Kropp 1:13.90
100 freestyle: 1-Paulson 51.54, 2-Lund 52.20, 8-Sorge 54.91, 16-Blake Cummings 1:05.88
500 freestyle: 1-Max Robinson (Hopkins) 5:07.21, 2-Kuepers 5:07.37, 5-Mattson 2;35.49 , 8-Bastien 5:44.67, 14-Eberts 6:10.58
200 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Lund, Tatge, Kuepers, Paulson) 1:35.33, 7-Brainerd (Sorge, Kelm, Rollins, Bastien) 1:44.79, 10-Brainerd (Kropp, LaPorte, Eberts, Cummings) 1;58.31
100 backstroke: 1-Dawson 54.77, 3-Ruhl 59.99, 5-Zemke 1:04.32, 8-Laporte 1:06.01
100 breaststroke: 1-Joe Rudd (Duluth) 1:03.03, 2-Tatge 1:07.93, 11-Kelm 1:18.70, 15-Herrlich 1:24.42, 16-Kroop 1:25.57
400 freestyle relay: 1-Hopkins 3:27.14, 2-Brainerd (Lund, Rosenwald, Kuepers, Dawson) 3:28.63; 6-Brainerd (LaPorte, Zemke, Bastien, Ruhl) 3:58.54, 9-Brainerd (Cummings, Mattson, Eberts, Kropp) 4:23.08

Warrior Invite

Team: Warriors win four-team invite

Swim highlights: Dylan Paulson wins two individual races and anchors to first-place relays.

Dive highlights: Izaac Herrlich wins diving followed by a second, third and fourth for Brainerd.

Next: Brainerd at Sauk Rapids 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2


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

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