Andrew Mehr literally came out of nowhere.
The Brainerd Warriors' swimmer shocked Section 8, Class 2A by finishing second in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
He went on to startle the 2A state meet with an eighth-place finish in the 50, earning all-state distinction in an event dominated by metro swimmers who compete year round.
Mehr will be a marked man this winter as he seeks a return trip to state.
"Obviously, finishing in the top eight at state, he's got big expectations, and so do we," Warriors coach John Zemke said. "He's taller and stronger this year, which is going to be a plus for him.
"He spent a lot of time with us in the pool last summer, especially with the 50 being so technical with starts and turns. We think we fixed a few things that needed to be fixed."
Zemke expects to move Mehr around the lineup this season after swimming primarily the 50 and 100 last winter.
"He can swim about any stroke," Zemke said. "We will move him around in a lot of different events. We'll see where he can fit into the backstroke, and he's a good butterflyer."
Zemke expects seniors Brett Severson (sprint free, butterfly) and diver Aaron Thelen to be factors along with Mehr.
"We should be a deeper team this year, which will hopefully give us more options when creating a lineup," Zemke said. "With three top-notch seniors we're looking forward to an exciting season."
Boys' swimming and diving
Head coach -- John Zemke, eighth season
Brainerd career record -- 53-10 (.841)
2003-04 record -- 5-2 CLC, 7-2 overall, third in Central Lakes Conference, third in Section 8, Class 2A
Returning state meet participant -- Andrew Mehr
Assistant coaches -- Carl Schirmer, Owen Trout (diving)
(6 p.m. meets unless noted)
9 - at Rocori
11 - at St. Cloud Apollo Inv. 1 p.m.
16 - SARTELL
21 - BEMIDJI
28 - BRD INV., 1 p.m.
6 - at St. Cloud Tech
8 - at University of Minnesota Inv., noon
13 - ALEXANDRIA
20 - SAUK RAPIDS
22 - True Team section at Alexandria, noon
27 - at St. Cloud Apollo
3 - WILLMAR
12 - CLC CHAMPIONSHIP, noon
Zemke also expects a contribution from eighth-grader Jared Anderson, who is ticketed to swim breaststroke and backstroke.
"Jared is looking really good," Zemke said. "He swam in a couple of YMCA meets already. His times are faster than they've ever been. We expect big things from him, even at a young age.
"He's going to be very versatile. He can swim anything. It should be exciting to watch him come along."
Swimming and diving will add True Team meets to its schedule this season. In True Team meets, every swimmer will score points for his team. In Minnesota State High School League competition, only those finishing in a certain place score points for their teams.
"The timing of it, in the middle season, it's going to be very exciting," Zemke said. "We're looking forward to it. We hope to have a number of teams in our section participate.
"It should create another exciting venue for fans, and it will an opportunity for more kids to be involved, and that's the bottom line. If you've got a big team, and depth, you should do well."
Seniors -- Andrew Mehr (sprint free, backstroke), Brett Severson (sprint free, butterfly), Aaron Thelen (diver)
Juniors -- Josiah Collins (free), Jake Iten (distance free), Tim Lange (sprint free, backstroke), Mike Stunek (butterfly), Chris Thomsen (sprint free), Nate Tyner (individual medley, butterfly, breaststroke), Tay Stevenson
Additional varsity candidates
Sophomores -- Dustin Christenson (breaststroke), Bobby Lee (free), Jeff Schuety (free), Jordan Westphal (backstroke), Jesse MacArthur (free), Josh Ellens (breaststroke), Karl Magnuson (free), Troy Viau (free)
Freshmen -- Zach Schneider (breaststroke), Eddie Myers (free), Will Henningson (diver), Chris Dens (free)
Eighth grade -- Jared Anderson (breaststroke, backstroke)
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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