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Swimming: 4 Warriors hoping for a 2-day state

Andy Dillon (left), Griffin Blegen, Tristan Dawson and Connor Lund (front) will represent Brainerd at the Class 2A State Swimming and Diving Meet Friday, March 1. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The goal is Day Two.

For three Brainerd individuals and a Warrior relay competing in the Class 2A State Swim prelims Friday, March 1 at the University of Minnesota, advancing to Saturday's finals would be the pinnacle of a long, grueling winter season.

There is also a time goal each will be striving for, however, and with only the top 16 swimmers and relays advancing to Saturday, meeting that time goal could also help them reach Saturday.

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State Swimming

Who: Andy Dillon, Griffin Blegen, Tristan Dawson and the 200 free relay

When: Class 2A swim prelims 6 p.m. Friday, March 1; Class 2A swim finals 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2

Where: University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Minneapolis

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A perfect case would be senior Griffin Blegen who posted a 22.11 in the Section 8-2A 50-yard freestyle Feb. 16.

Blegen is seeded 19th heading into Friday's prelims. The No. 16 seed swam a 21.98.

"For Griffin breaking 22 and going 21 anything would be great," Warrior head coach John Zemke said. "If he could somehow sneak into the top 16 that would be a great achievement. Hopefully going down there with an extra week of rest might really help him out quite a bit. We're hopeful he can do that and move on to swim on Saturday."

Fellow senior Andy Dillon swam a 2:00.15 in the 200 individual medley at sections. That landed him the 24th seed for state. The 16th seed is sitting at 1:57.47.

"His real goal is to make the top 16, but if he can break that two-minute mark that's big for an IMer," Zemke said. "Hopefully he can beat a few guys and you never know what could happen. Definitely to get under two minutes would be a great achievement considering he was at 2:08 before the section meet. He's dropped a good eight seconds already. Why not drop a little bit more and get under two minutes."

Tristan Dawson will be the third individual swimming Friday. He'll be competing in the 100 backstroke where he's seeded 17th with a time of 54.51. One spot ahead is the 16th seed and a 54.39 time.

"He's very close and one of the things about the (St. Cloud) Tech pool is that it is very shallow on one end and Tristan is excellent underwater with his kick," Zemke said. "He goes deep off the wall. He said he almost skimmed the bottom of the pool. He said he felt it on his kick off the wall. So at the U, it's eight feet deep all the way across, so he should be able to use that depth of the water and his kick to his advantage and hopefully, that will help him bust into the 53s and make it to the second day."

The big goal is for the relay to swim Saturday. Dawson will lead it off to give him enough time to rest for his backstroke, which is the next event. Dillon will swim second followed by Blegen and junior Connor Lund will anchor the relay. Blegen would usually anchor the relay, but Lund has been the final swimmer to give him enough rest after his 500 freestyle, which he would normally swim.

"We talked about switching the lineup, but Connor has done a great job anchoring that thing so maybe we'll just leave him there," Zemke said. "That's going to help that relay Connor not having to come off that 500 free right before. I think since it worked at the section meet, we'll probably leave Connor there. He did a great job before and maybe Griffin can get some open water for Connor anchoring that relay."

For Lund, who was the 200 and 500 freestyler for Brainerd and a member of the 400 free relay, having just one event could be beneficial.

"In Connor's case he was doing 850 yards last Saturday and now all he has to do is a 50, I think that would be a real advantage," Zemke said. "Hopefully that's the way they're looking at it. I know I would. A lot of it at the state meet is just getting that excitement going and making sure all four guys are ready to go at the same time. Prelims are a little different than section finals. In the state prelims, those first few heats generally aren't very loud. The noise doesn't start until Saturday. We have to make sure we have ourselves ready to go and hopefully we can make things happen to advance to Saturday."

This will be Blegen's third state meet. Dillon was an alternate at last year's event. For Dawson and Lund this is state trip No. 1.

"Griffin and Andy have done a great job all year being leaders for us and they'll be ready to go on Friday," Zemke said. "It's just a matter of hitting those exchanges just right. We've been working on that all week and hopefully, they can make something happen. Generally, we swim faster at (the U of M) pool. Hopefully, we do those little things right and have a good race and advance to Saturday."

Jeremy Millsop

My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.

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