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Alexandria continues to cement itself as a top Class A team in state with second straight runner-up finish

The Cardinals fell to perennial power Breck-Blake, but five second-place finishes helped Alexandria hold off St. Thomas Academy for second place in the team standings with four talented seniors leading the way in their final meet.

Team trophy
From left to right, Alexandria boys swimming and diving team members Kyler Kavanagh, Cooper Running, Erik Reineke, Anthony Hoyt, Eric Peterson, Nicolas Welle, Carter Holm, Caden Kavanagh and Logan Tung teamed up to take second place at the Class A state swimming and diving meet in Minneapolis on March 5, 2022. It’s the second straight season that the Cardinals have finished as the Class A runner-up behind Breck-Blake.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

MINNEAPOLIS — In another era, the Alexandria boys swimming and diving program could easily have a team state title to its name over the last two seasons.

The Cardinals have showcased the depth and top-end talent to prove they are a top Class A team in the state, but Breck-Blake is simply dominant right now.

Breck-Blake won a sixth straight state championship at the University of Minnesota on Saturday afternoon with 495.5 team points. Just like a year ago, the Cardinals finished second behind them as the Cardinals finished with 203 points. St. Thomas Academy was third (172) among the 32 programs that were represented at the University of Minnesota.

“Breck-Blake has incredible swimmers. They do,” Alexandria senior Anthony Hoyt said. “They have amazing swimmers who push it every day in and outside of the pool. I know a couple of them personally, and I know how much work they put in to get to where they’re at today. You don’t see those times just because they join a school. They do it because they put that work in.”

Alexandria 300 freestyle relay
Alexandria's 200-freestyle relay team of Anthony Hoyt, Logan Tung, Carter Holm and Nicolas Welle stand on the podium as they await their runner-up medals after finishing second at the Class A meet in Minneapolis on March 5, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Everyone associated with Class A swimming and diving knew how tall of a task it would be to challenge a team like that at a state tournament. That’s why the Cardinals were thrilled to have accomplished the goal they set for themselves at the beginning of the season.

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Hoyt said from the get-go that goal was finishing second and being the No. 1 public school team in the state. Hoyt had four top-eight finishes in the 200 and 500 freestyles, and with the 200 and 400-freestyle relay teams, but he said he was most proud of what this group accomplished together.

“I think (Friday during prelims), a lot of people weren’t where they wanted to be,” senior Carter Holm said. “A lot of people stepped up today. It was finals. There was a lot more to fight for, and overall as a team, everybody was happy and stepped up and maybe accomplished some goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the year.”

Nicolas Welle finished his standout career being a part of three second-place finishes on Saturday. Welle took second in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly in his individual events.

It took a new all-time record in Minnesota from Breck-Blake senior Charlie Crosby (19.72) to beat Welle in that 50 freestyle. Welle did everything he could to try to take down the defending champion, swimming an All-American consideration time of 20.87 seconds.

“I can tell just from swimming against (Crosby) every now and then how much bigger and stronger and faster he gets over the years,” Welle said. “He definitely deserves everything he gets in the pool. He works so hard, I’m sure, and his stroke is just amazing. It’s hard to go up against him, but at the same time it’s kind of fun knowing that getting second right behind him is a good accomplishment.”

Welle almost got his state title in the 100 butterfly, an event he did not even swim competitively a year ago. Welle dropped time from his prelims (51.14) to finish the finals in 50.35, but Hutchinson sophomore Conner Hogan out-touched him in 50.12.

“I’m very happy with everything,” Welle said. “A little sad that I got out-touched in the fly, but things happen. You win some, you lose some. I’m very happy I was able to try something new. Last year, I didn’t even do the 100 fly. This year, I tried it and it worked out, so for my first year, second place is a good achievement for me.”

Alexandria swim and dive coaches
Alexandria swimming and diving coaches Aaron Rooney, second from left, Kathy Walker, and Steve Kluver cheer on junior Logan Tung during the 200 IM at the Class A state meet on March 5, 2022 at the University of Minnesota.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Those finishes from Welle were part of five total second-place finishes for the Cardinals at state. The 200-freestyle group of junior Logan Tung, Hoyt, Welle and Holm finished in 1:26.44, less than a second behind the team from Breck-Blake (1:25.61).

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Holm anchored Alexandria’s 400-freestyle relay that rallied to take second place over Mankato East.

Sophomore Eric Peterson, junior Erik Reineke and Hoyt kept things within striking distance going into the anchor, where Holm finished off his career by reeling in Mankato’s Jordan Hogue to secure the third runner-up finish he was a part of.

“It’s just fun,” Holm said of the final race of his career. “It’s fun to have something like that to fight for. To be able to bring it home, it’s all around just fun.”

Holm was on top of his game all day on Saturday. He finished with a prelims time of 47.93 in the 100 freestyle. That qualified him for the finals in the first lane with six other athletes finishing faster than him on Friday.

Not many swimmers take second from that first lane in the finals, but that’s exactly what Holm did. He lowered his finals time to 46.82, falling just behind Breck-Blake freshman Henry Webb’s 45.34.

“I had a goal all season,” Holm said. “I just went in and made it happen. I did the best I could do, put it all in the pool.”

Alexandria had athletes in all 12 finals events on Saturday after Friday’s prelims.

Peterson, Tung, Welle and Reineke were third in the 200-medley relay. Tung swam in four total events, with his best individual finish coming in the 100 breaststroke where he was ninth. Peterson also swam in four events, while brothers Caden and Kyler Kavanagh finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in diving.

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Kavanaghs and Aaron Rooney
Alexandria diving coach Aaron Rooney watches video with state divers Kyler Kavanagh, middle, and Caden Kavanagh during the Class A state meet on March 5, 2022. Caden finished 13th at the state meet, and Kyler was right behind him in 14th place.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Head coach Kathy Walker always pushes her athletes to set goals and do everything they can to achieve them. The Cardinals modeled that again this year, led by a group of senior state participants in Welle, Hoyt, Holm and Caden Kavanagh, along with others from the regular season, who left their mark on this program.

“I know for myself, I don’t want to be remembered for how fast I went in the pool,” Hoyt said. “I want to be remembered for how much fun we were to be around as a group of kids who were able to lead and get through challenges. I want us to be known as a team that was always there for each other, and we could strive through any challenge that was given to us.”

Eric Peterson
Alexandria sophomore Eric Peterson shoots off the wall to start the backstroke portion of the 200-medley relay during the Class A state meet on March 5, 2022. Peterson joined Logan Tung, Nicolas Welle and Erik Reineke in taking third place in the finals in a time of 1:38.20.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

With back-to-back second-place finishes, this group established itself as one of the top programs to come through Alexandria. These seniors are excited to see the underclassmen take the reins now as they try to lead the Cardinals to more big things in the future.

“Every person is unique in their own way,” Hoyt said. “I feel some of these young kids like Reineke and Peterson can bring something unique to the team when they’re captains or when they’re seniors. I wouldn’t say one specific thing they should do like us. I think they need to find something that fits them to make sure they can keep the team together.”

CLASS A STATE SWIM AND DIVE MEET

ALEXANDRIA FINALS RESULTS - 200-MEDLEY RELAY - Eric Peterson, Logan Tung, Nicolas Welle, Erik Reineke - third, 1:38.20; 200 FREESTYLE - Anthony Hoyt - sixth, 1:46.56; Erik Reineke - 15th, 1:50.99; 200 IM - Logan Tung - 14th, 2:04.34; 50 FREESTYLE - Nicolas Welle - second, 20.87; DIVING - Caden Kavanagh - 13th, 335.55; Kyler Kavanagh - 14th, 321.45; 100 BUTTERFLY - Nicolas Welle - second, 50.35; Eric Peterson - 16th, 56.52; 100 FREESTYLE - Carter Holm - second, 46.82; 500 FREESTYLE - Anthony Hoyt - seventh, 4:53.97; 200-FREESTYLE RELAY - Logan Tung, Anthony Hoyt, Nicolas Welle, Carter Holm - second, 1:26.44; 100 BACKSTROKE - Eric Peterson - 12th, 55.58; 100 BREASTSTROKE - Logan Tung - ninth, 1:00.23; 400 FREESTYLE RELAY - Eric Peterson, Erik Reineke, Anthony Hoyt, Carter Holm - second, 3:13.06

ALEXANDRIA PRELIMS RESULTS - 200 IM - Cooper Running - 19th, 2:10.27; 50 FREESTYLE - Carter Holm - DQ; 100 FREESTYLE - Erik Reineke - 19th, 49.89; 500 FREESTYLE - Cooper Running - 17th, 5:09.62

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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