Gulon advances to state swim

Sophomore John Gulon competed in a tight battle for the 100-backstroke title and qualified for state by time standard with a fourth place finish Saturday, Feb. 22 at the University of Minnesota-Morris. Eric Morken / Forum News Service

Sophomore John Gulon advanced to Class A state meet and the Detroit Lakes boys swimming and diving team placed seventh at the Section 5A championships Saturday, Feb. 22 at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

Gulon punched his ticket to state finishing fourth in the 100-backstroke. The top two swimmers automatically qualify. Gulon cut the MSHSL qualifying standard time to earn his spot.

Gulon was coming off his best backstroke time of season in Friday’s qualifying (57.42) earning the second seed in the finals.

According to head coach Carol Fischer, Gulon knew he would have a race Saturday for second or third place behind section champion Marcus Benson, a Park Rapids senior, or would need to qualify by time to make it to state.

“John was about a second away from qualifying by time going into the finals after swimming his best on Friday,” Fischer said. “John always tells me he can go faster and I tell him ‘I know you can go faster.’”


Benson won handily Saturday in a section record breaking time of (52.76), but the real race was the battle going on behind him.

Gulon battled it out for four lengths and was touched out of third by Sartell’s Brannon Bjork (56.32) and Alexandria junior Thomas Williams (56.41) but the clock read 56.52 for Gulon cutting the state time by 0.15 seconds

The Lakers finished with 128 total team points with six top-8 marks by relays and individuals and four top-16 finishes.

The 200 medley relay of John Gulon, Garrett Bakken, Jackson Zurn and Elijah Kitzmann finished fourth overall (1:47.54).

“The medley finished with their best overall time and each of the boys turned in their best 50 splits for the season,” Fischer said. “That was a great way for the swimmers to start the finals meet.”

Gulon also finished 16th in the 100-freestyle (54.39).

Jackson Zurn, a sophomore, finished seventh overall in the 200 Individual Medley (2:14.53) and the 100-butterfly

Jackson had a great couple of IM races turning in his best times for the season in prelims and finals,” Fischer said. Zurn also swam a personal best in the fly (58.66).


Garrett Bakken, a senior, finished eighth overall in the 100-breaststroke.

“Garrett finished with his fastest time of the year,” Fischer said. “Garrett is fun to watch at big meets…all grit, each length.” Bakken also placed 23rd in the 50-freestyle.

Divers Zane Weaver and Evan Thomas, both freshmen, finished ninth and 15th, respectively.

“Both divers have improved so much since the beginning of the season,” said Fischer. The future looks bright for Laker diving.”

The 200 freestyle relay of Elijah Kitzman, Garrett Bakken, Justin Biederman and Jackson Zurn finished eight (1:45.69).

“The relays were some big points for the team.” Fischer said. “The boys stepped up and did their jobs.”

The 400-freestyle relay of Justin Biederman, Weaver, Thomas and Micah Barberg finished 10th.

Kitzmann, a senior, finished 17th in the 50 free and 21st in the 100 freestyle.


“Elijah was a great team player throughout his swimming career.” Fischer said. “He was a versatile swimmer and instrumental in our top relays.”

Biederman, a sophomore, finished 19th in the 100 backstroke.

“Justin had a huge season with mega-time drops throughout and in every event he swam,” said Fischer.

Barberg, an eighth grader, finished 21st in the 100 backstroke.

“It was a lot of firsts for Micah…first season….first section meet…and he made the most of the opportunity to drop time in the backstroke and freestyle relay, finishing with his personal best times in those events,” said Fischer.

The Lakers finished with a Gold Standard in Academics holding a team grade point average of 3.83. Detroit Lakes was the only team to achieve this award from the Minnesota High School Swimming and Diving Coaches Association.

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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