The Hastings Raiders boys’ swimming and diving team sent three entries to this week’s state meet after competing in the Section 1AA event this past Wednesday-Friday. Junior diver Ryan Lester qualified Thursday when he took third in the one-meter dive with a score of 318.45. The next day, sophomore Philip Jensen made it when he took third in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 52.58 seconds. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ 200 medley relay team had one of the most unusual days you can have in swimming but qualified by taking ninth with a time of 1 minute, 38.95 seconds. The relay is made up of Jensen and juniors Joe Everson, Liam Shelhamer and Avery Stoffel.

Lester was the first of the group to qualify during the diving on Thursday. Head coach Gerry Rupp said his score of 318.45 was a season-high for an 11-dive list.

“We thought he had a chance at top four, I’ve been kind of watching and monitoring what the diving results from the sections teams were throughout the year. We knew that he was going to be right in there,” Rupp said. “He failed a dive at our diving invite which put him out of the top four running, but we knew he had it in him and he rose to the occasion on Thursday. All of his dives, he just really nailed them, did a great job and pulled off that third place.”

Friday’s swimming finals started off in a very weird way and resulted in one of the rarest scenes possible at a swim meet. Rupp said that the Raiders’ 200 medley relay team did not swim well on Wednesday during the preliminaries and ended up finishing last. Since Section 1AA expanded to nine teams, and only eight entries make the championship finals, the Hastings relay ended up all by itself in the consolation finals.

“We didn’t swim real well in the prelims and that kind of bit us, so we figured let’s just go for it now with all four ‘A’ relay guys and see if we can get it done,” Rupp said.

Rupp said they replaced two of the four relay swimmers from the preliminaries with the other “A” guys and the Raiders swam their legs all alone in the pool, but with plenty of support from the other teams and crowd. The only way they could make state was by swimming under the standard qualifying time, as only the top two finishers in the championship finals make it otherwise.

As unusual as that circumstance was, it only gets more so. Rupp said the automatic timing mechanism malfunctioned, so they had to use watch time. The Hastings coaches and those from other teams had the Raider relay as under the standard qualifying time, but the official stop-watch timer behind the starting block had them at exactly the qualifying standard, 1:38.95. Rupp said the organizer of the meet told him that it was the first time since he started running the meet that had ever happened.

Last but certainly not least, Philip Jensen qualified for state via the standard qualifying time in the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.58.

“He didn’t swim particularly well on Wednesday at preliminaries but he wasn’t shaved down yet,” Rupp said about Jensen. “He got himself in position on Wednesday, just squeaked in the top eight, then came back on Friday and had a phenomenal swim to get him up there and then that time cut.”

Sophomore Philip Jensen is headed to state in the 100-yard backstroke after taking third with a time of 52.58 seconds Friday at the Section 1AA meet in Rochester. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia
Sophomore Philip Jensen is headed to state in the 100-yard backstroke after taking third with a time of 52.58 seconds Friday at the Section 1AA meet in Rochester. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia

Looking ahead to the state meet, the diving preliminaries for Class AA are Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus. Swimming preliminaries are the same time the next day, Friday, while finals for both are same time, same place on Saturday. Rupp said much of what to expect at state is based on seeding.

“Your underlying goal is always to try and make it back for finals,” he said. “Phil (Jensen) right now is seeded 11th in the backstroke so he has a very good chance to make it back for the finals and he’s not far out of eighth place. The 200 medley relay has an up-hill battle, they’re seeded 24th out of 25 teams.”

Full finals results

The 200 medley relay of Philip Jense, Shelhamer, Stoffel and Everson took ninth with a time of 1:38.95. In the 200 freestyle, eighth grader Caleb Urban took ninth in 1:54.11 and freshman Adam Duer placed 13th (1:56.68).

Stoffel took sixth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.21 while Everson was 11th in 22.75.

“Avery Stoffel had a fantastic 50 freestyle in the open, he just missed the state cut by 17 hundredths I think, it was pretty close,” Rupp said. “He had a great swim and that’s fantastic for him because he battled some health issues this year and spent a lot of time sitting on the steps instead of in the water. We’re glad with what he was able to do training wise, that he did that well.”

Senior William Jensen took 14th in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:09.49, Lester finished third in the one-meter dive with a score of 318.45 and seventh grader Charlie Jensen placed 11th in diving (212.80).

Philip Jensen took sixth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 54 seconds flat, Everson finished 10th in the 100 freestyle in 49.79 and Stoffel placed 13th (50.89). Urban took fifth in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:06.94.

“For an eighth grader to get out there and win the consolation heat in the 200 freestyle and also make the championship heat in the 500 freestyle as an eighth grader, that’s pretty darn exciting,” Rupp said about Urban. “He was so pumped up to go out there and race those swims, he just had a whale of a meet.”

The 200 freestyle relay team of William Jensen, Duer, sophomore John Destross and junior Dylan Anderson took ninth with a time of 1:36.94. Philip Jensen finished third in the 100 backstroke in 52.58 to advance to state and Shelhamer placed 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.93). The 400 freestyle relay team of Stoffel, Philip Jensen, Urban and Everson took fifth with a time of 3:23.60.