It was a memorable night for East Ridge and Park in boys swimming and diving as a handful of Raptors and Wolfpack made their way to state tournament. They either placed first or second in the event or qualified with their time on Friday night at BlueWater Aquatics in Apple Valley.
East Ridge will send three teams and three individuals to the state tournament next week and will compete in six different events. The Raptors also finished second as a team in the section tournament being only six points away from first place Eagan on Friday night.
Park finished the night in fourth place as a team, but will be sending one team and two individuals to state. These swimmers will be competing in three different events throughout the night.
The Raptors will have some the majority of their state qualifiers be upperclassmen. In the first event of the night on Friday, East Ridge already marked a spot at state.
It was the 200-yard medley relay and the Raptors finished first with a finals time of 1:37.60. The team consists of senior Carter Smith, sophomore Jakow Heide, junior William Cho and senior Casey McGrath.
Smith and Heide will also be heading to state as individuals as they placed first and second respectively in the 200 individual medley. Smith finished with a time of 1:56.18, while Heide was right behind him with a time of 1:59.15.
East Ridge had to wait for a handful of events before its next state qualifier as McGrath earned a spot in the 100 freestyle. He finished the race in second place behind Eagan's Caiden Kuehn with a finals time of 47.86. McGrath was .03 seconds behind the first place spot.
Then, the Raptors had another team qualify for state in the 200 freestyle relay. The team placed second with a time of 1:30.58 behind first place Woodbury.
The East Ridge team consists of Heide, senior Ryan Langstraat, senior Noah Cagle and Cho. These four will be heading to state next weekend.
Smith had his name called once again at the section meet on Friday as he qualified for state at the 100 backstroke. He finished in first place with a finals time of 52.92.
Finally, The Raptors finished the night victorious with another state qualifying team in the last event of the night, the 400 freestyle relay. The team finished in second place with a finals time of 3:16.53.
That 400 freestyle relay team consists of McGrath, Langstraat, junior Liam Ashton and Smith.
In all, there will be seven individual swimmers heading to state for East Ridge, but some of them will be competing as teams.
The Wolfpack will have a very young squad heading to state this season as there's only one senior and the rest are sophomores that will be competing next weekend.
In the first event of section meet on Friday, Park earned its first state qualifier in the 200 medley relay. The team finished second behind East Ridge with a finals time of 1:38.59.
The team consists of sophomore Devin Schwartz, sophomore Dylan Purrington, senior Hogan Lawson and sophomore Nathan LeMay. These boys broke the school record for the 200 medley relay.
Along with the team, LeMay will be heading to state as an individual too. He finished second in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.43 and just swam past his teammate Lawson as he finished with a time of 22.44.
Purrington will also be heading to state as an individual as he finished first in the 100 breaststroke. He finished with a finals time of 1:00.29 and almost broke the one-minute mark in the section finals. He also broke the school record for the 100 breaststroke.
In all, there will be four individual swimmers heading to state for Park and the sophomores will hope to gain experience for the upcoming seasons as upperclassmen. For Lawson, the hope is to end his senior year with a strong swim.
The swimming portion of the state tournament will start on Friday, March 1 as the preliminary round will take place at 6 p.m. that day at the Jean K Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus. If the Raptors and Royals reach the finals, that will take place on Saturday, March 2 starting at 6 p.m. at the Aquatic Center.