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State swimming: Cardinals positioned well in seed times as state gets going

Alexandria senior Jordon Baas celebrates after helping to set a new section meet and pool record in the 400 freestyle relay on Feb. 24. Baas was on all three of Alexandria's relays that qualified for state with times that position each relay among the top two of all seed times entering the state meet this weekend. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)1 / 2
Alexandria senior Nic Chromey swims in the 100 butterfly at the section meet on Feb. 24. Chromey made it to state in that event and in the 100 breaststroke, where he is going for a second straight state championship in the event. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 2

The Alexandria swimmers are coming off an emotional high during this past Saturday's section meet in their home pool.

A second-place team finish, four new meet records and sending at least one athlete to state in every swimming event was about as much as this group could have asked for. Now the Cardinals will find out if they can swim even faster against the top athletes in the state when the Class A prelims get going at noon today, Friday.

"There's always room for improvement, but this was beyond expectations," senior Jordon Baas said after Saturday's section meet. "These guys have done absolutely amazing, and we're so proud of all of them."

Baas was on all three of Alexandria's relays that set new section-meet records for their swims at the 5A meet. Those relays, and the camaraderie that comes with competing on them with teammates in a sport that features mainly individual events, mean a lot to these athletes.

"Those relays represent the whole entire team," Baas said. "I'm just a freestylist. Everyone in those relays, it takes every aspect of the team. It's so amazing because it brings everyone together to accomplish one race at a time."

The Cardinals have put a lot of work into perfecting all three of the relays, and they enter the state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in good position to finish high on the podium. The time of 1:38.05 that Baas, Zach Dummer, Nic Chromey and Nick Olson posted in the 200-yard medley relay at sections is the fastest seed time of any team in the state field. The group from Park Rapids that Alexandria beat at the Section 5A meet is second at 1:39.52.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Baas, Nicolas Welle, Patrick Chromey and N. Chromey have the second fastest seed time (1:27.57) to Winona (1:26.60). The 400 freestyle relay of Baas, Olson, Welle and P. Chromey also have the fastest seed time (3:14.19) entering state.

The Cardinals might have to swim even faster to win a state title in the relays, but they have positioned themselves to be in that conversation.

"I'm going to say top four," head coach Kathy Walker said after the section meet when asked what her expectations were for the relays at state. "It's just really exciting to see all of their hard work, all of the sacrifice that their families and parents have given for them to be a part of this sport, pay off. It's thrilling to have a meet like this in their home pool, but it's also exciting to know they're not finished."

Chromeys going for titles

Nic Chromey already has one state title to his name. Now he wants to end his career by winning a second straight in the 100 breaststroke.

The senior won that event with a finals time of 57.34 seconds a year ago, right in front of William Mayleben of St. Thomas Academy in 57.80.

Chromey set a new section meet record on Saturday with his winning-time of 57.59, even as he still works his way back into top shape after missing some time earlier this season.

"We're working through the fact that he was out of the pool for more than two weeks with pneumonia and in the hospital," Walker said.

Chromey was back in the lineup for Alexandria for the Central Lakes Conference Championship meet on Feb. 10, but Walker said it has taken him a while to get back to posting the times he was accustomed to having.

"He's come a long ways since he's come back into the pool," she said.

Chromey has progressed to the point where he is still the guy to beat in that 100 breaststroke. His time from the section meet is the fastest seed time by a little less than a second in front of sophomore Andrew Karpenko of Minnehaha at 58.41. Five swimmers in all enter state with seed times of less than a minute in the 100 breaststroke as Chromey tries to wrap up his Alexandria career with another championship.

Nic's younger brother, Patrick, has also positioned himself well to compete near the top of the field in his two individual events at state.

Patrick, a junior, has the second fastest seed time of 1:44.73 in the 200-yard freestyle. Griffin Wolner of Winona is first at 1:43.01. Patrick also has the second fastest time heading into the 100 freestyle at 47.53. Only Jack Herczeg of Winona comes in faster at 47.24 seconds.

Class A state swimming schedule

Friday: Swimming prelims, noon

Saturday: Swimming and diving finals, 11 a.m.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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