Griffin Blegen wanted to start the season close to where he finished last year.
The Brainerd Warrior sprinter was close, but even more impressive was the three seconds he shaved from his time from last year's meet against Bemidji.
Blegen won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and helped the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay to victory as Brainerd swam past Bemidji 107-61 at Brainerd High School Thursday, Dec. 6.
Blegen's winning time of 50.70 in the 100 free was three seconds faster than last season.
--- --- --- --- ---
Brainerd 107, Bemidji 61
Key: Brainerd finished 1-2 in all three relays and won every event
Overall: Brd 1-0, Bem 0-1
Next: Brainerd hosts Fergus Falls 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13
--- --- --- --- ---
"The 100 free, especially, I looked up where he was last year when we swam against Bemidji and he's three seconds faster tonight than when we opened up last year," Zemke said. "That's huge. Obviously, he's off to a very fast start. It's one thing to start the season where you were the year before, but to be that much faster is another thing.
"His 50 free was also very nice. To be in that low 23 at this time of the year is nice also. I know he wanted to be a high 22 and a 49 high, but he was very close."
Blegen won the 50 free in 23.20 and was followed by Ethan Paulson who swam a second-place 24.40.
The returning state meet participant also teamed with Tristan Dawson, Cody Evans and Andy Dillon to post a 1:45.89 and blow out the competition in the 200 medley.
"For this meet, and for the first couple of meets, I try and be as close to midseason form from last year," Blegen said. "I want to be as fast as I possibly can be. I'm not really worried about time. Time is nice, but I just want to be as fast as I can and try to be at the midseason point from last year.
"You need to be fast. You need good starts and have fast strokes, not a lot of breathing, fast turns, fast kicking, fast everything. There isn't much room for errors."
Blegen, Dillon, Connor Lund and Dawson concluded the meet with a winning 400 free time of 3:37.22.
Lund cruised to a 200 freestyle victory and eighth-grader Mason Kuepers cemented a second-place finish. Those two switched places in the 500 free.
Dillon ran away with the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:13.06. Cade Rosenwald was second with a 2:21.25. The freshmen got his first varsity win with a 59.77 in the 100 butterfly.
"A lot of the freshmen swam very well tonight and a lot of the upperclassmen did very well," Zemke said. "Griffin had a very nice 50 free and 100 free and two nice splits in the relays. We're very pleased with that. Fellow senior Andy Dillon also had some very nice swims. He won the IM and they're both off to a nice start.
"It was fun to have a meet and see where we are at."
Izaac Herrlich was a showstopper with his 195.65 points in diving. His first-place finish was followed by Blake Cuimmings in second.
The Warriors finished 1-2-3 in the final two individual races. Dawson won the backstroke followed by Dillon and freshman Thomas Ruhl.
Cody Evans won the breaststroke in 1:10.08 with freshman Parker Tatge second and Jacob VanRisseghem in third.
"I would say as a whole, our strength this year is we have a lot of good young guys," Blegen said. "We have a lot of kids that aren't going to get first place every time, but they'll be able to go second, third, fourth. They'll get that 1-2-3 punch. Maybe not first, but they'll get us a lot of points."
Blegen said it was just nice to swim against other competition. Zemke said it's nice to have a meet in to see the difference between practice and competition.
"They were looking forward to tonight," Zemke said. "Then we have another week of practice before our next meet. We'll be able to adjust our lineup better. We had kids in wrong relays and everything just because we were guessing about where they would be.
"Overall it was a great start. We had a lot of great surprises and every kid had at least one great swim and dive."
Brainerd 107, Bemidji 61
200 medley relay: 1-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Cody Evans, Andy Dillon, Griffin Blegen) 1:45.89; 2-Brainerd (Thomas Ruhl, Parker Tatge, Cade Rosenwald, Riley Backstrom) 1:51.82
200 freestyle: 1-Connor Lund (Brd) 1:56.53, 2-Mason Kuepers (Brd) 1:56.84, 4-Tennyson Kelm (Brd) 2:05.87
200 individual medley: 1-Dillon 2:13.06, 2-Rosenwold 2:21.25, 3-Evan 2:28.40
50 freestyle: 1-Blegen 23.20, 2-Ethan Paulson (Brd) 24.40, 4-Backstrom 25.74
Diving: 1-Izaac Herrlich (Brd) 195.65, 2-Blake Cummings (Brd) 175.10, 4-Cruz Lemmerhirt (Brd) 159.20
100 butterfly: 1-Rosenwald 59.77, 2-Dawson 1:01.51
100 freestyle: 1-Blegen 50.70, 2-Paulson 53.93, 4-Backstrom 57.39
500 freestyle: 1-Kuepers 5:18.63, 2-Lund 5:21.43, 4-Kelm 5:53.06
200 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Paulson, Backstrom, Kuepers, Lund) 1:40.67; 2-Brainerd (Evans, Hebert, Tatge, Kelm) 1:42.54
100 backstroke: 1-Dawson 59.71, 2-Dillon 1:00.03, 3-Ruhl 1:01.95
100 breaststroke: 1-Evans 1:10.08, 2-Tatge 1:13.10, 3-Jacob VanRisseghem (Brd) 1:13.49
400 freestyle relay: 1-Brainerd (Dillon, Blegen, Lund, Dawson) 3:37.22; 2-Brainerd (Paulson, Rosenwald, Ruhl, Kuepers) 3:42.08
For more photos go to https://bit.ly/2E4FLgk.