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Lakers take big step in 2009-10

QUILLAN OAK leaps off the starting blocks during the Class 1A state 100 breaststroke this season.

Last season can be thought of as "setting the tone" for an up-and-coming Detroit Lakes boys' swimming and diving team.

The 2009-10 season took it one step further, as the Lakers improved by adding much-needed depth and maintaining their high-quality talent.

The addition of several new swimmers and their improvement, along with the majority the team back, sets up even bigger expectations next year.

"Everyone ended the season with personal bests and that's the way it should it be," said DL head coach Rian Heimark. "Even the brand new swimmer saw something they didn't realize they had.

"The potential is there and there was lots of improvement."

But the Lakers remained strong on the high end of their lineup, as they qualified for five events in the Class 1A state meet.

Of the five, they scored 52 team points in the state, the most ever by a Laker team.

Sophomore Quillan Oak once again just missed earning state gold in the 100-yard breaststroke by taking his second consecutive runner-up position and missing out of first by .31 of a second.

Junior Jon Melgaard also earned fifth in state in diving, as well.

He will lead a strong DL diving team into next season, which includes state qualifier junior Justin George.

"We have a very strong diving team," Heimark said. "They are a very important part to our team and they gain us some big points."

Oak will still have that hunger for a state title entering next season, which should only make the team stronger.

He also finished fourth in state in the 200 individual medley to add to his accolades.

Brandon Olson also took the next step after he qualified for state in the 500 freestyle and just missed going in the 200 freestyle.

The 200-medley relay team of Travis King, Oak, Cody Okeson and Olson made state, while the 400 freestyle relay squad will be looking to break the DLHS record, as well.

But for the team to have success, they will need depth and that's exactly what the Lakers built this season.

A host of new and young swimmers overshot expectations, as they contributed big points in meets.

That resulted in a Mid-State Conference championship, something which was high on DL's goal list.

"The freshman class really filled in a lot of points and everyone was really focused on the competitive level," Heimark said. "Now, we just have to transfer some of that to practice to get better.

"Many of the guys have already been talking about the summer swimming season and many of them are out for other sports, which I like to see them do. The opportunities are definitely there to get better."

Although there must be many aspects built on for the 2010-11 season, this past season has at the very least set the Lakers up for some higher expectations.

"It's way too early to be setting any goals, but the standards have been raised," Heimark remarked.

Laker results

Detroit Lakes boys' swimming and diving team season results -- Dual record: 7-3.

Laker Mid-State All-Conference team (Mid-State team champions): Cody Okeson, Quillan Oak, Cody Johnson, Jon Melgaard, Brandon Olson and Travis King...Honorable Mentioned: Justin George, Carter Krengel, Mike Okeson, Aaron Colby, Brady Eilertson, Jacob Olson and Brady Otto.

Invite results: 1st Laker Invite; 2nd Panther Invite; 3rd Otter Invite; 5th Bemidji Invite.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.