As a junior Brainerd's Britton Murrey was diving for a third straight trip to the state meet when illness derailed the chance of that happening at the Section 8-2A meet.
Warriors diving coach Owen Trout said Murrey missed about a month of practice, battling mononucleosis and a sinus infection, and lost almost 30 pounds.
“He had a real good start to last year's section meet,” Trout said. “After five dives he was in one of the top two spots.
“Then, after eight dives .. diving has a tendency to become long and drawn out, and he started to lose his energy. He got nicked for the fourth spot. He should have been top two or three last year, and ended up fifth. He just ran out of energy.”
Murrey didn't let a third state trip elude him at last weekend's section meet. He placed third (top four advance to state) and will compete in the Class 2A state meet Thursday night at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
In previous state trips, Murrey finished 14th as a freshman and 11th as a sophomore. Trout believes Murrey was on his way to a top eight finish in 2009 and a trip to the podium when he “ticked” his foot on an inward double and wound up sinking out of the top 10.
This week Trout believes Murrey has a chance to stand on the podium and earn all-state distinction. Thirty-two divers qualify for state. After five dives the field is cut to 20. After three more dives Thursday the field is pared to 16. Those 16 advance to Saturday's finals where the final three dives determined their placement.
“Britt has a really solid list for the state meet,” Trout said. “We're going to front-end load it so he's got a lot of quality degree of difficulty dives on the front end to make it through the first and second cuts.
“His health is good. He had a nice practice (Monday) night. He's a quality diver, no doubt about it. He's got a lot of talent. He's got a real legitimate shot to be on the podium. He could be as high as third if he has a real good day and dives cleanly.
“There are a lot of good divers there. The top 10 could be anybody on any given night. The door is wide open. There's not necessarily one true front-runner this year.”
Seven other Warriors have qualified for the swimming portion at state. None are seeded higher than 16th. All will have to drop time in Friday's prelims to advance to the final day Saturday.
The 200 medley relay of Josh McKeag, Bradyn Watson, Chase Wickman and Sam Dellacecca is seeded 20th (1:42.72).
“If they can drop a second or a second and a half they've got a chance at the second day, otherwise it will be tough,” Warriors head coach John Zemke said, “but I think they can be a couple seconds faster than section. I think there's a couple seconds in there that they can make up.”
In the 100 butterfly, McKeag is seeded 21st (55.73).
“He needs to shave time, but he's certainly capable,” said Zemke, who was named section head coach of the year. “Hopefully he's able to do that and move up, if nothing else improve on the time he had last weekend.”
Dellacecca is seeded 17th in the 100 free.
“He has a 49.46 seed time,” Zemke said. “If he can go 48-something that should put him in the top 16. That would be a realistic swim for him. He's had a great year, and he swam well at state last year.”
In the 100 breaststroke, Watson is seeded 16th (1:01.57).
“The time he swam Friday (at the section) would actually put him 12th,” Zemke said. “If he can break the minute barrier he should get to the second day.”
The 400 free relay of Justin Kuglin, Adam Warren, Tyler Schneider and Dellacecca is seeded 20th.
“We're hopeful they've got a couple more seconds in them,” Zemke said. “They're at 3:22.61. If they can go 3:20 that should put them in the top 16.”
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.