There might be as much blue in the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center stands as there is in the pool.
The Brainerd Warriors will match their largest delegation of swimmers and divers heading to the Class 2A state meet Thursday through Saturday in head coach John Zemke's 12 seasons.
Seven Warrior swimmers and one diver will compete in 10 of the 12 events. The last time Brainerd sent eight athletes was in 2000 when it finished eighth.
Brainerd Warrior qualifiers for the Class 2A swimming and diving state meet include, in the water, Josh Sachs (left, alternate), Evan Reese, Mike Brekken. Sitting: Jon Warling (alternate), Mike Ruen, Britton Murrey, Andrew Goll. Standing: Jake Larson, Alek Rudstrom, Jared Anderson.
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"Our goal is to be in the top eight and it will all depend on how many we move on," said Zemke. "Everyone that is competing has a realistic chance of swimming in the finals, even our three 50 free guys. Alek and Evan were battling sickness during sections so they didn't have their best times. Hopefully, this week we're healthy and we can all go even faster."
Highlighting Brainerd's caravan is the 200-yard medley relay of Michael Brekken, Jared Anderson, Michael Ruen and Evan Reese and Anderson in the 100 breaststroke. Both have the No. 2 seeds heading into Friday's prelims.
The relay swam a 1:37.00 at the Section 8-2A meet to secure the fourth lane in heat 2. The fastest medley relay time was Rosemount's 1:35.92.
"Our time is great," said Zemke. "We're going to have to really be clicking to go faster. There are four teams in the 1:37s. It will be a fast race and hopefully we can go faster."
Anderson swam a 57.68 breaststroke at the section meet. He trails only the 55.63 of Rochester John Marshall's Kendrick Bachman.
"He's got a lot of ground to make up," Zemke said. "The guy ahead of him is more than a second faster. Unlike at sections he will be shaved and fully rested for this meet."
Class 2A state
swimming and diving
Who: Brainerd Warriors
When: Diving prelims 6 p.m. Thursday; Swim prelims 6 p.m. Friday; Finals 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Minneapolis
The 200 free relay of Andrew Goll, Alek Rudstrom, Larson and Anderson is seeded third at 1:27.96. The team will swim in heat three and trails Edina's 1:26.57 and Minnetonka's 1:27.17 section times.
Other high seeds include Anderson's fourth in the 200 individual medley, the 400 free relay's fourth and Goll's sixth in the 50 free.
"Seed times don't mean much of anything," said Zemke. "You have to go faster. We need to swim well in everything. Everyone is in a scoring position. We can't afford to have any bad races."
The top eight times from prelims will swim in the championship finals, while the next eight fastest times will swim in the consolation finals.
Britton Murrey must duplicate or do better than last year's 14th-place finish at state. Divers have to survive the first cut after five dives and then a cut to 16 after eight dives.
"Britton had a decent section meet - not a great one," Zemke said. "We need Britton to do well and we need him to score as high as he can. We need every team point we can get. He just has to take one dive at a time and drill them. He's capable of placing a lot higher."
Brainerd seed positions
200 medley relay: 2-Brainerd (Michael Brekken, Jared Anderson, Michael Ruen , Evan Reese) 1:37:00
200 freestyle: 12-Jake Larson 1:46.73
200 individual medley: 4-Jared Anderson 1:55.37
50 freestyle: 6-Andrew Goll 21.98, 28-Alek Rudstrom 22.52, 30-Evan Reese 22.53
Diving: 32-Britton Murrey
100 butterfly: 11-Michael Ruen 53.38
100 freestyle: 12-Goll 48.64
200 freestyle relay: 3-Brainerd (Goll, Rudstrom, Larson, Anderson) 1:27.96
100 breaststroke: 2-Anderson 57.68
400 freestyle relay: 4-Brainerd (Goll, Rudstrom, Larson, Reese) 3:15.07
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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