The athletes in the Alexandria boys swim and dive team spent six days a week doing dryland training since Nov. 30.

That’s the kind of culture there is within this program that has risen back near the top of the Class A field with three straight top-five finishes at the state meet. While that training has kept them prepared, there’s no doubt guys were eager and ready to get back in the pool on Jan. 4.

“The guys are really ready to get into the water,” head coach Kathy Walker said in late December. “Once we find out our meet schedule, we will be able to plan our season a little better...Whatever it is, we are ready.”

The Cardinals have a talented nucleus back with plenty of state-meet experience. Ethan Johnson, Thomas Williams, Carter Holm, Anthony Hoyt, Torrey Olson-Rodel, Nicolas Welle, diver Caden Kavanagh, and Logan Tung all competed at the state meet in late February as Alexandria tallied 167 points in Minneapolis.

Having that core to build around makes for a balanced roster that has high expectations.

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“We have all-state competitors returning and many with goals to get to the state meet and place in the top eight,” Walker said. “Those goals are absolutely achievable.”

Walker believes both Kavanagh and junior Aidan Staples can place high at a state meet as leaders of this diving group.

“We have sprinters and distance swimmers who can also place again in the top eight,” Walker said. “We have Nick Welle and Tony Hoyt back, who set school records and were all-state last year. We have fast team members.

“What we are lacking is depth. We are quick and have great competitors across the events. We just don't have a depth of that talent. Each individual is working toward his personal goal for each competition. Those individual, personal goals will lead us in the direction of our team goals of placing high in the section and state meets.”

Walker expects a very different season in the midst of the pandemic.

“Our end goal has always been how we perform at the section and state meets,” Walker said. “It is our understanding that the (Minnesota State High School League) is looking forward to these meets in mid-March. Since our season is shorter, the team understands that every minute of training counts more than ever. Attention to the smallest detail during practices is vital to their success. Each meet we compete in has the goal of constant improvement.”

The fall sports season in Minnesota proved that no competition is guaranteed, with many programs in the state having to cancel or postpone games after positive COVID cases. Walker said extra precautions will be in place to try to ensure that the Cardinals stay healthy and can compete in whatever schedule they are allowed.

“Getting the most out of our season for our seniors is our utmost goal,” Walker said. “We want the season to be memorable in a positive way, not giving in to frustration and discouragement because of restrictions and COVID. We cannot control so much, so we want to do our very best with what we can control.”

ALEXANDRIA BOYS SWIM AND DIVE

SENIORS - Ethan Johnson, Torrey Olson-Rodel, Thomas Williams

JUNIORS - Carter Holm, Anthony Hoyt, Caden Kavanagh, Aidan Staples, Nicolas Welle, Coltan Koehn, Zach Timm, Joel Brault, Eli Biggers, Matt Mayer

SOPHOMORES - Axel Knudsen, Erik Reineke, Logan Tung

FRESHMEN - Andrew Crowser, Mark Meece, Eric Peterson

EIGHTH GRADE - Cooper Running

SEVENTH GRADE - Kyler Kavanagh

ALEXANDRIA SWIM AND DIVE SCHEDULE

(Schedules are subject to change)

Jan. 14 vs. Brainerd, 6 p.m.

Jan. 21 vs. Bemidji, 6 p.m.

Jan. 28 at St. Cloud Tech/Rocori, 6 p.m.

Feb. 2 vs. Melrose Area, 6 p.m.

Feb. 4 at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 6 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Fergus Falls, 6 p.m.

Feb. 18 vs. Sartell, 6 p.m.

Feb. 25 at Willmar, 6 p.m.