BY MELISSA MAROHL
After an impressive third place finish at the Section 2A meet last week, the Watertown-Mayer/Waconia/Delano/Holy Family boys swimming and diving team is sending six athletes to the state meet in six events.
The co-op team of four schools scored 281 points to finish third out of 11 teams at the section meet conducted in Richfield Saturday. Blake/Breck took the section title with 608 points with Orono second at 304.5.
“It was our first time in Class A swimming,” said coach Chuck Charnstrom. “We went from the strongest section with Edina, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie to a section with schools much more our size. It was nice to get entrants in more than half of the events.”
In order to qualify for the state tournament a swimmer or relay team must place in the top three of an event or meet a predetermined qualifying time. Two Delano swimmers qualified for state including junior Ben DeSutter and ninth-grader Jake Weber.
The Royals kicked off the day with a state tournament entry in the 400 medley relay. Brent Unowsky, Zachary Holman, DeSutter and Weber finished third.
Weber went on to finish second in the 50 free, also qualifying for state. Junior Tristan Gens punched ticket to state with a third place finish in diving, scoring 348.65 points.
Holman pulled down the only first place finish of the day, dominating the 100 butterfly. He went on to finish third in the 100 breaststroke. Sophomore Jack Dalluge qualified for state by finishing third in the 100 freestyle.
In the final event of the day, the Royals were third in the 400 free relay with Dalluge, Unowsky, DeSutter and Holman. At state, Dalluge, DeSutter and Holman will team up with Weber in the event.
Senior Austin Gilbert from Delano was eighth in the 200 IM. DeSutter was ninth in the 100 butterfly as well as in the 100 backstroke and Weber was sixth in the 100 free. Delano seventh-grader John Kenison finished 10th in the 500 freestyle. In the 200 free relay Dalluge, Allen Janikula, Gilbert, and Weber teamed up to finish fifth.
Delano senior Tyler Hannan and Gilbert will serve as alternates for both relay teams, while Kenison will be an alternate for the 200 medley relay. Other varsity swimmers from Delano are seventh-graders Trent Peterson, Cooper Thomson and Carson VanSytzama.
The Class A state preliminary competition kicks off at noon Friday, Feb. 28 at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. Finals will be Saturday at the same time. DeSutter and Gilbert earned All-Conference awards.