Section 5 swimming: Records fall, state bids punched for Cards
The Alexandria boys swimming and diving team had already had a record-setting day when senior Jordon Baas stepped onto the starting block for the first leg of the 400-freestyle relay at the Discovery Middle School pool on Saturday.
The Cardinals were riding a wave up momentum at that point and the group of Baas, juniors Nick Olson and Patrick Chromey and eighth-grader Nicolas Welle wanted to end things in style. They did just that, setting a new section meet and pool record with a time of 3:14.19 to beat the second-place team from Sartell by more than two seconds. That time was more than five seconds off their prelims time of 3:19.30 from Friday.
“It means a lot,” Baas said of the record. “That brings all of our training together into one race. It’s absolutely amazing how all these guys have been making leaps and bounds, including myself. These guys are amazing. This is a wonderful team.”
Baas said this team did things on Saturday that the athletes did not know they were capable of at the beginning of the season. The Cardinals brought home a second-place trophy with 398 points, well in front of third-place Melrose-Sauk Centre (313) and behind only perennial Class A power Sartell-St. Stephen in first (486.5 points).
The Cardinals earned the right to bring a full contingent of athletes to the state meet at the University of Minnesota March 1-3 after qualifying at least one in every swimming event. Individuals going are P. Chromey and Olson in the 200 freestyle, Welle and senior Zach Dummer in the 200 IM, Baas in the 50 free and junior Nic Chromey in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. Nic broke his own meet record in the breaststroke by winning in 57.59 seconds.
Patrick Chromey added the 100-yard freestyle to his list of state events and Olson is going in the 500 freestyle. Dummer moved up in the 100 backstroke from sixth in the prelims to third in the finals to cement his spot at state, while Welle went from fifth in prelims in the 100 breaststroke to take fourth and beat the state cut time in the event to qualify.
“That was what we were pushing for, definitely,” Dummer said of dropping time and moving up the standings in the finals. “The prelims, it was just the goal to make top eight. Then our goal for finals was pushing for those higher spots, getting as high up as we could.”
The Cardinals are going to state in all three relays after winning and setting new meet records in each one. Dummer, N. Chromey, Olson and Baas got the meet going with a time of 1:38.05 in the 200 medley relay. Baas, Welle, and the Chromey brothers then set the meet mark in 1:27.57 to take the 200 freestyle relay.
“It’s lots of hard work,” Dummer said. “A lot of these boys on the three relays were in summer club, and we grind all year. We’re pushing through it. I don’t know, I kind of expected this because of that hard work.”
Alexandria head coach Kathy Walker, who was named the Section 5, Class A coach of the year after the meet, said the Cardinals did not taper leading up to sections.
“So with that being said, I’m surprised at some of their swims,” Walker said. “We told them to take it easy (Friday) and then come back today and really race. That’s what they did. The kids just really brought it today.”
Walker said she was surprised to see the pool record at DMS fall in the 400 freestyle relay, but this group features a lot of competitors who were ready to go for the biggest meet of the season to this point. The Cardinals have just five seniors, five juniors and no sophomores. That means they rely on a group of underclassmen to add depth, and those young athletes drew the praise of coaches and teammates on Saturday.
“You think we did good?” Baas said of the upperclassmen. “Look around at all these young guys. I have complete faith in them that they’ll outswim us because they’re putting up times that we never pulled off coming into high school. They’re not even in high school yet.”
Baas believes the future of Alexandria swimming is in good hands with those youngsters, but this team is motivated to cap off this present season by having a strong showing at state at the end of this week.
Alexandria finished seventh a year ago at the Class A meet with 107 total points. Dummer said he would be thrilled if this year’s group could swim their way into the top five.
“I think that is a reasonable goal for our team,” he said. “We’d be really excited with that.”
Walker knows it will take an even better day than they had on Saturday to accomplish that. She believes the Cardinals are read to take on that challenge.
“It’s going to be top-10 again,” Walker said of her goals for state. “We know the quality. We were at True Team state, and we know the quality of teams like Northfield and Fridley and some of these kids. I’m kind of happy that some of the kids looked at me today and said, ‘I’m not that happy with my time today.’ I know they’re hungry for more and to go faster.”
SECTION 5, CLASS A MEET
TEAM STANDINGS - 1. Sartell-St. Stephen - 486.5; 2. Alexandria - 398; 3. Melrose-Sauk Centre - 313; 4. Fergus Falls - 258; Park Rapids - 240.5; 6. Bemidji - 182; 7. Detroit Lakes - 154; 8. Thief River Falls - 66; 9. Perham - 58; 10. Morris Area - 42
ALEXANDRIA STATE QUALIFIERS (Top three finishers or by time standard): 200 MEDLEY RELAY - Zach Dummer, Nic Chromey, Nick Olson, Jordon Baas - first place, 1:38.05; 200 FREESTYLE - Patrick Chromey - first place, 1:44.73; Olson - third place, 1:50.82; 200 IM - Nicolas Welle - second place, 2:02.00; Dummer - fourth place, 2:06.29; 50 FREESTYLE - Baas - first place, 21.90; 100 BUTTERFLY - Nic Chromey - first place, 54.08; 100 FREESTYLE - Patrick Chromey - first place, 47.53; 500 FREESTYLE - Olson - third place, 5:06.95; 200 MEDLEY RELAY - Baas, Welle, P. Chromey, N. Chromey - first place, 1:27.57; 100 BACKSTROKE - Dummer - third place, 56.37; 100 BREASTSTROKE - Nic Chromey - first place, 57.59; Welle - fourth place, 1:03.28; 400 FREESTYLE RELAY - Baas, Olson, Welle, P. Chromey - first place, 3:14.19