25 March 2014

Boys Swimming: Another solid showing

MVP Dan Berg made the all-Missota team and qualified for state in three events (photo by Jim Lindquist)
The Tigers had to overcome some unexpected logistical obstacles during the 2013-14 season but when all was said and done  it was another solid year for coach Ryan Hamen and his program.

The Tigers placed second at the Missota Conference Championships, third at the Section 1AA meet and qualified for the state meet in four events.

"The boys did a great job this season," Hamen said. "We had a lot of issues with the pool losing power and having to swim in other pools for a week and then losing our timing system. It was these issues that made the season tough. The boys took it all in stride and did what they had to do."

Hamen and his staff awarded varsity letters to 17 Tigers at the team's post-season awards banquet held Monday night.

Ten of the letters went to senior veterans: Daniel Berg, Brandon Dion, Sean Dougherty, Spencer Kabran, Eric Schimmel, Nick Stephan, David Bovee, Greg Schmaus, Zach Boelter and Alex Garofalo. Senior managers Katie Aaron and Leah Huls also earned varsity letters.

All-conference swimmer Brandon Dion broke the school record in the 100 butterfly (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"These boys were great leaders," Hamen said. "They motivated by example and encouraged others to do the same."

Underclassmen winning monograms included juniors Jake Bauerle, Jonathan Bovee, Robin DeCastro, Garrett Haugen, Devon Webb and Brock Lange; freshmen Austin Kueck, Ben Gunderson and Ian Alexander, eighth-graders Triston Butoi and Nicholas Stivers and seventh-grader Oscar Hanifl.

MVP Berg, who qualified for state in three events, and Dion, who set a new school record in the 100 butterfly, made the all-Missota Conference team. So did diver Bovee and the versatile Schimmel who swam on the 400 freestyle relay team at state. Kueck and DeCastro received all-league honorable mention.

Three swimmers shared the team's Hardest Worker Award: Schimmel, Kueck and Ryan Newton. Gunderson and Noah Budde received the "I Can Do It, Coach" award and Jonathan Bovee and Ben Walz were named co-Most Dependable. Bauerle and Brett Haugen took home the Most Improved Award and Eric Heddinger was named Rookie of the Year.

On the academic front, Boelter and Schmaus earned Academic All-American honors.

Garrett Haugen, Jonathan Bovee, DeCastro and Bauerle were named co-captains for the 2014-15 season.

One of the things Hamen said he appreciated about this year's team was its depth.

"All four of our divers were able to compete at the big meets with 11 dives," he said. Not many schools can do that... All four of our breaststroke swimmers competed in the section consolation and final rounds."

All-Missota diver Jonathan Bovee (photo by J. Lindquist)
Individually, the Tiger coach lauded the performance of Kueck, who became just the second Tiger ever to break the five-minute mark in the 500 freestyle, and Bauerle who knocked eight seconds off his 100 breaststroke time to become the team leader in that event.

As for the future, Hamen said his program should continue to improve.

"We have a number of young athletes who are very promising," he said. "Every year as the boys get bigger, stronger, faster and taller it is not always easy to know.  I hope to find athletes strong in every event and improve our non-freestyle strokes."

The Tigers will leave the familiar confines of the Missota next season when they take up residence in the South Suburban Conference.
"We are looking at being in the middle of the pack in the South Suburban," Hamen said.  "Lakeville South, Prior Lake and Rosemount are always big contenders at the state level. I hope we will raise our level of skills and grow so we can be more competitive at the higher levels."