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Swimming & Diving: Lakers touch out PR for conference championship

Laker senior Austin McCullough takes in some air during the 100 yard freestyle event during Tuesday’s swimming and diving meet. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

The Detroit Lakes boys’ swimming and diving team was able to use every single event and competitor to wrangle in every single point to narrowly defeat Park Rapids in their home pool for the Mid-State Conference championship last Friday.

Only six points separated the Lakers and Panthers for the conference title, but a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay race sealed the championship for DL as they topped Park Rapids 484-478.

“It’s big,” remarked DL junior Jared Olson.

“We are riding a high right now with that win,” added senior Michael Richter.

The Mid-State championship is basically the final team event for the Lakers, who will be entering the Section 6-1A meet next Friday and Saturday, as they will be vying for state individual berths from there.

But gaining a team title is a huge boost for the Lakers, simply because everyone contributed in the win.

“Yes, we had our guys who were named All-Conference and Honorable Mentioned, but if it wasn’t for those guys who took fourth, fifth and sixth places, we would have never won that meet,” said DL head coach Rian Heimark.

The Lakers did win nine events in the Mid-State meet, including all three relay races.

But Heimark pointed out the important points also came from those finishers in third and beyond.

“They are not always in the limelight, but they really deserve the recognition,” Heimark added.

In the 200 individual medley, in which Olson won with a time of 2:15.72, Spencer Heimark gathered some key points by beating three Panther swimmers by taking fifth.

“That’s huge, he took away points from three Park Rapids’ swimmers right there in one event,” Rian Heimark said. “Ethan McCullough was another one, who knew he had to have a good night and he did it in the 100 freestyle and in his relay events, where he posted personal best times.

“Brady Labine also put it all on the line, he did everything he could to get us points.”

Freshman Zane Freeman won the diving with 398 points, while senior Jacob Kempenich had a solid meet with 319.8 points for third.

Seventh grader Tanner Olson was sixth in the 200 freestyle and was Mid-State Honorable Mentioned in the 500 for a third-place finish. He also qualified for sections in both events.

Heimark also credited Noah Kitzmann for gaining points in the 500 freestyle, along with teammate Connor Haugrud.

“The biggest thing was having our younger guys step up,” said Richter, who won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, while being on the 200 medley relay. “Park Rapids is a deep team, but what it came down to was our depth.

“It was just perfect timing, everything fell into place. For once, we had everyone healthy.”

Those winning events for the Lakers included Olson in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke and Austin McCullough in the 50 freestyle.

Senior Isaac Clem helped DL go 1-2 in the 50 freestyle, as well, just behind Austin McCullough by .20 of a second.

For the sections, the Lakers will ride the wave of momentum of winning the Mid-State and keep their expectations high.

“We want to take all 3 relays to state, that’s a big goal of ours,” Olson said.

DL dominated visiting Morris 149-33 Tuesday night in the regular season home finale.

The Lakers will finish out the regular season in Thief River Falls Thursday. DL has up to four competitors qualified in every event for sections, as well.                

Mid-State Conference meet in Park Rapids, Friday, Feb. 7

Team results: Detroit Lakes 484, Park Rapids 478, Perham 207

DL event results – 200-yard medley relay: 1. DL A (Caleb Howard, Michael Richter, Jared Olson, Isaac Clem) 1:48.31; 6. DL B (Brady Labine, Zane Freeman, Jake Anderson, Austin Nelson) 2:00.23…200 freestyle: 3. Howard 2:03.03; 6. Tanner Olson 2:11.60; 9. Quinn Bakken 2:29.00; 10. Elliot Musielewicz 2:30.80…200 individual medley: 1. J. Olson 2:15.72; 5. Spencer Heimark 2:32.98; 9. Gabe Kitzmann 2:40.54; 10. Landon Lindsey 2:50.09…50 freestyle: 1. Austin McCullough 23.27; 2. Clem 23.47; 6. Labine 25.66; 8. A. Nelson 27.02…Diving: 1. Freeman 398.00; 3. Jacob Kempenich 319.80; 6. Austin Gedrose 282.05…100 butterfly: 1. Richter 58.57; 3. Jake Anderson 1:05.35; 7. Heimark 1:10.69; 9. Lindsey 1:16.06…100 freestyle: 2. A. McCullough 52.39; 3. Clem 52.42; 7. E. McCullough 58.85; 9. Gedrose 1:00.98…500 freestyle: 3. Tanner Olson 5:49.27; 6. Lance Parzyck 6:31.11; 8. Kitzmann 6:37.35; 9. Connor Haugrud 6:37.85…200 freestyle relay: 1. DL A (names not available) 1:36.91; 4. DL B (A. Nelson, Gedrose, Tristan Johnson, N/A) 1:48.26…100 backstroke: 1. J. Olson 58.93; 3. Howard 1:06.03; 7. Kempenich 1:15.83; 8. Tucker Strawsell 1:20.52…100 breaststroke: 1. Richter 1:04.32; 3. Freeman 1:13.35; 7. A. Nelson 1:19.69; 8. Bakken 1:20.37…400 freestyle relay: 1. DL A (names not available) 3:36.04; 5. DL B (names not available) 3:51.43

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