The Brainerd Warriors swimming and diving team celebrated the 30th anniversary of its holiday invitational the best way it knew how: By winning.
The Warriors cruised to the team title Tuesday at the Brainerd High School pool with surprising ease, scoring 446.5 points while Monticello was second at 393.5.
It was the first time since the 1999-2000 season that the Warriors won their invitational.
The win also kept Brainerd unbeaten on the young season. The Warriors are 3-0 in dual meets and tied for first place at the St. Cloud Apollo Relays Dec. 11. But Brainerd coach John Zemke knows that the tough part of the schedule is coming up.
"It's a surprise and we're happy to do well," Zemke said of the win. "We had some hit and miss swims. Some guys did very well and some are looking tired from all of our training. It's just one meet but it's exciting to win. It's only December and we have a lot of quality teams coming up."
Brainerd rode the broad shoulders of sprinter Andrew Mehr, who won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. He posted a time of 22.19 in the 50, beating second-place Matt Blonigen of Melrose/Sauk Centre by two seconds. He then captured the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.17.
For Mehr, both races were completely different as he raced against the clock in the 50 and against the field in the 100.
"I knew the 50 was going to be a race against myself and the clock," Mehr said. "I just focused on mechanics, good start, good turn and getting some turnover on my strokes. In the 100 Moorhead had (Shaun) Seaburg swimming against me so I had to just stick it out.
"In some ways it's easier to race against a person because you get motivated a lot more and your teammates get more into it."
Mehr, along with Brett Severson, Josiah Collins and Nate Tyner, led the 200 freestyle relay team to a victory with a time of 1:36.89. Collins showed true grit as he swam the final leg of the relay after swimming the grueling 500 freestyle, so Mehr did his part by getting the Warriors out to a large lead early.
"It's tough for Josiah so we have him anchor the relay because he needs as much rest as he can get," Mehr said. "When I lead off, I try to get my second and third guys as much of a lead as I can. Jo's a swimmer where if he's neck-and-neck with another swimmer, he'll always beat the guy and not fade."
Tyner was another individual winner as he took the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:17.79.
Brainerd locked up the team win by sprinkling in runner-up finishes from Collins (200, 500 freestyle), Scott Tetreault (diving), Jared Anderson (100 breaststroke), and the 400 freestyle relay team of Collins, Tim Lange, Tyner and Mehr.
Brainerd swimming holiday invitational
The winner is: The Brainerd Warriors won their own invitational for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
Next: Brainerd at St. Cloud Tech, 6 p.m. Jan. 6.
1-Brainerd 446.5, 2-Monticello 393.5, 3-Melrose/Sauk Centre 389, 4-Fergus Falls 349, 4-Moorhead 349, 6-Anoka 337
200 medley relay -- 1-Fergus Falls 1:49.43, 4-Brd. (Tim Lange, Jared Anderson, Brett Severson, Chris Thomsen) 1:53.72, 12-Brd. (Mike Stunek, Josh Ellens, Michael Ruen, Karl Magnuson)
200 freestyle -- 1-Sean Seaburg (Moor) 1:52.14, 2-Josiah Collins (Brd) 1:54.91, 10-Jake Iten (Brd), 17-Troy Viau (Brd), 23-Will Henningson (Brd)
200 individual medley -- 1-Nate Tyner (Brd) 2:17.79, 3-Anderson (Brd), 12-Ruen (Brd), 20-Ellens (Brd)
50 freestyle -- 1-Andrew Mehr (Brd) 22.19, 6-Severson (Brd), 14-Chris Thomsen (Brd), 15-Magnuson (Brd)
Diving -- 1-Sean Luck (A) 182.05, 2-Scott Tetreault (Brd) 163.75, 5-Aaron Thelen (Brd), 6-Cody Thomsen (Brd)
100 butterfly -- 1-Luke Money (FF) 59.25, 4-Tyner (Brd) 1:04.09, 5-Severson (Brd), 9-Ruen (Brd), 19-Magnuson (Brd)
100 freestyle -- 1-Mehr (Brd) 50.17, 4-Lange (Brd), 13-Chris. Thomsen (Brd), 16-Ellens (Brd)
500 freestyle -- 1-Adam Matson (Moor) 5:15.34, 2-Collins (Brd) 5:17.85, 8-Iten (Brd), 20-Henningson (Brd), 21-Jeff Schuety (Brd)
200 freestyle relay 1-Brd (Severson, Collins, Tyner, Mehr) 1:36.89, 6-Brd (Viau, Magnuson, Anderson, Chris Thomsen)
100 backstroke -- 1-Money (FF) 1:02.89, 4-Lange (Brd) 1:05.94, 14-Stunek (Brd), 16-Viau (Brd), 18-Jordan Westphal (Brd)
100 breaststroke -- 1-Forrest Robeck (Mont) 1:07.59, 2-Anderson (Brd) 1:08.31, 12-Zach Schneider (Brd), 18-Dustin Christenson (Brd), 19-Hirota Takayuki (Brd)
400 freestyle relay -- 1-Moor 3:30.14, 2-Brd (Collins, Lange, Tyner, Mehr) 3:32.66, 10-Brd (Stunek, Ellens, Iten, Viau).
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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