Maple Grove defends conference swimming and dive championship

The Maple Grove boys’ swim and dive team continued its streak as NWSC Champions, defeating Anoka 97-88 in the championship meet last Friday. Maple Grove’s junior varsity team also won, defeating the Tornadoes 90-85.

In the week leading up to the meet, Crimson coach Ron Jacobsen said that to win the meet would require one team’s swimmers to step up and swim their best. After the meet, Jacobsen said, “I am very happy with how our guys raced. There were huge swims across the team, both JV and varsity. I am really proud of how our team stepped up and the tremendous effort they gave.”

Maple Grove boys’ swim and dive team members celebrate another conference championship. (Photo by Dave Dabson)
Maple Grove boys’ swim and dive team members celebrate another conference championship. (Photo by Dave Dabson)

Senior caption Aaron Dabson reflected on the importance of winning the conference championship title.

“The title has been this team’s tradition since the conference was founded,” Dabson said. “It was a great feeling to come together as a team to secure it again. I am incredibly proud of the work that everyone has put into achieving this goal.”

Maple Grove started the meet strong, taking both first and second in the 200 medley relay. The team of Mike Rouleau, Brenner Hohenstein, Matt Strauss, and Dan Ebert touched first, followed by the team of Andrew Wong, Alex Robb, Aaron Dabson, and Nate Haines. Maple Grove’s Max Loy, Alex Patton, Zach McLain and Dillon Tews came in fourth.

In the 200 freestyle, senior Rouleau faced-off against Anoka senior Cole Birklid. Both are among the metro’s fastest 200 freestylers this season, with Birklid’s fastest time going into the meet slightly faster than Rouleau’s. Knowing Birklid’s race strategy, Rouleau went out fast and held the lead, winning the race in his season’s best time. Senior Strauss came in third, also with his season’s best time.

Senior Dan Ebert went out fast in the 200 individual medley, in an effort to hold off Anoka’s Matt Hedman. In a race to the finish, Hedman touched less than two-tenths of a second ahead of Ebert, who posted a season best time. Hohenstein and Wong added points to the Crimson effort with their fourth and fifth place finishes.

Crimson seniors Robb, Haines and Ryan Thompson took second, third, and fourth in the 50 freestyle, in a heat that saw just over a second separating first place from sixth place.

Maple Grove diver Laurence Dickerson placed third. Dickerson, the only Crimson diver competing this season, has been a consistent performer.

After diving, Maple Grove led by just three points. The lead grew to nine after Rouleau, Dabson, and McLain took first, second, and fifth in the 100 butterfly. Rouleau and Dabson both swam season-best times in the event and finished well ahead of their Anoka competitors.

In the 100 freestyle, Haines and junior Tews raced to second and third with season-best times. Strauss and juniors Graham Ganser and Patton took third, fourth, and fifth in the 500 freestyle, all with season best times. Strauss was in a close race from the start with Anoka’s Hedman and Caleb Birklid; less than a second and a half separated the three swimmers at the finish.

Crimson teams took second and third in the 200 freestyle relay. Thompson, Robb, freshman Parker Brown, and Strauss placed second, while the team of Wong, Tews, freshman Abe Vrudny, and Haines took third.

Going into the 100 backstroke, Maple Grove led by a single point. Dabson went out fast from the start and led the entire race, swimming his season’s best time in the event. Wong finished second, also with a best time. After backstroke, the Crimson lead was five.

In the final individual event of the meet, the Crimson swept the 100 breaststroke. Hohenstein, Ebert, and Robb dominated the pool, scoring 13 points and clinching the win for Maple Grove.

Maple Grove’s 400 freestyle relay of Rouleau, Ebert, Hohenstein, and Dabson took second in an exciting race to the finish. While the Crimson weren’t quite fast enough to win the race, they did post a season-best time, and Dabson’s anchor leg was his best, in an effort to stay close to Anoka’s Birklid.

“This meet was a fantastic evaluation of our team’s ability to step up and perform under pressure,” Ebert said later. “Both teams should be proud of how they performed.”