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Swimming: Warrior relay 15th, Dawson 14th in state finals

Brainerd's Andy Dillon touches the wall, while Griffin Blegen prepares to jump in the water and Connor Lund (right) encourages them both Friday, March 1 in the Class 2A Swim Prelims at the University of Minnesota. Brainerd qualified for the Saturday, March 2 finals where it finished 15th. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

Brainerd's 200-yard freestyle relay went faster, just not fast enough.

The foursome of Tristan Dawson, Andy Dillon, Griffin Blegen and Connor Lund swam .20 seconds faster than its prelim time and finished with a 15th-place 1:28.76 Saturday, March 2 in the Class 2A State Swimming Finals at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Each swimmer swam a faster split, helping cut the time, however, Blaine shaved off more than a second from its prelim time to leapfrog over Brainerd and place 11th. That pushed Brainerd one position back into 15th place from its prelim position.

"That Day Two, you pour everything into just making it to state and then state prelims," Warrior head coach John Zemke said. "For them to go faster was a good thing. I just wish we could have held our spot. Each guy went a little bit faster, but that's the way it goes."

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State Swim Prelims

  • Relay: Warriors improve time to finish 15th
  • Individual: Dawson places 14th in first state meet

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Dawson, a sophomore, swam an opening 22.76 followed by Dillon, a senior, with a 22.12. Fellow senior, Blegen, posted a 21.74 and Lund, a junior, finished with a 22.14.

"It was a big deal after they made it to Day Two at state for our seniors," Zemke said. "They've been in our program for a long time—since the middle school program and all the way through. It's been great to coach them. They're great kids to be around. Smart kids and they'll do very well in life.

"Hopefully when they look back on their swimming career all of their memories will be positive."

Dawson, who broke the school record in the 100 backstroke during Friday's prelims, couldn't match the feat a day later as he posted a 53.66 to place 14th in the consolation finals.

"For his first state meet, he really held things together really well," Zemke said. "He's got a tough combo. He had to get special permission to swim in the diving well because he was just coming off the 200 free relay and goes right into the backstroke."

Dawson set the new school record with his 53.29 Friday. He posted 50 times of 25.68 and 27.98 for his 53.66.

"He's such a student of the sport," Zemke said. "He's always looking at the little things to get faster. He's always studying and always trying to get faster so we're excited to have him for two more years. It's going to be fun."

Prelim results

200 freestyle relay: 1-Edina 1:23.67, 9-Wayzata 1:26.49, 15-Brainerd (Tristan Dawson, Andy Dillon, Griffin Blegen, Connor Lund) 1:28.76

100 backstroke: 1-Casey Stowe (Wayzata) 48.45, 9-Elliot Berman (Hopkins) 52.86, 14-Tristan Dawson (Brd) 53.66

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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