Eden Prairie repeats with three state swim titles

Jason Olson
Sports Editor

Eagles set the 200 free relay record

Eden Prairie boys’ swimming and diving continued its successful run at state that included three successful state event titles, a new all-time state record and another meet record for the team that finished runner-up to Minnetonka in the points standings, 340-to-274.

Six all-time records were set in what turned out to be a very quick state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

Last year’s Class AA state champions are on quite a role in recent years that continued Saturday evening with a seventh consecutive top-3 finish for the team and an all-time state record-setting performance to capture the 200-yard freestyle relay.

“It was a very, very fast meet,” Eden Prairie coach Kelly Boston said after the awards ceremony. “Fastest state meet I’ve seen for the boys which is great. It’s speaks a lot for Minnesota (swimming).”

She added that the team seems to feed off the tradition of the program each season.

“This team just has good tradition and seems to feed off of the tradition that the last generation built and our strongest team was in 2013 and those guys are all seniors in college. We’re still going and they scored the most points by a team that year and Minnetonka did not beat that this year.”

The bond between the Skippers and Eagles runs deep. Beyond the bordering city boundaries, swimmers and divers compete on the same club team and are friends outside the pool.

“It’s a rivalry and friendship,” Boston said about the Skippers, whose head coach she considers a very close friend. “We just have that kind of very good, strong relationship. I want to beat them every day and he wants to beat me every day.”

Boston’s son, Bryce Boston, was a member of the Eden Prairie relay that set the 200 medley record. That record was lowered by Minnetonka this year. Among the relay members was Boston’s daughters boyfriend, only adding to the connection between the two Lake Conference programs. “In the end it makes us all better,” she said.

Eden Prairie senior diver Peter Hegland tucks during a dive during Saturday’s Class AA finals. He finished third scoring 416.95 points. (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)
Eden Prairie senior diver Peter Hegland tucks during a dive during Saturday’s Class AA finals. He finished third scoring 416.95 points. (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)

The Eagles foursome of juniors Joshua Withers, Nicholas Tullemans, freshman Soren Dunn and senior Jordan Greenberg won the event in 1:23.49, lowering the prelims time by one-hundreth of a second (1:23.50) which also earned them automatic All-American honors. Minnetonka, Eagan and Forest Lake also beat the All-American consideration time.

Withers set a new meet record time in the 100 fly winning it in an automatic All-American time of 48.25, ahead of Chanhassen’s Jack Dahlgren’s time of 48.85 and Eagles classmate Adam Nik made the finals and placed 16th in 53.56. The all-time Minnesota prep record of 48.20 was set in 1995 by Bloomington Jefferson’s Martin Zielinski.

Peter Hegland (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)
Peter Hegland (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)

“He keeps chipping away at it,” Boston said about lowering his own meet record yet again in 2017. “And next year he’ll get that all-time (record), hopefully.”

Withers said he knew everyone in the finals heat on a first-name basis from getting to know them as friends outside the pool and competition.

“So to come here and race them, you have to put that friendship to the side a little bit. It’s a fun challenge and after the race you’re happy for them,” Withers said. “When you get up on the blocks you are going to both challenge each other.”

Coming into the meet, Withers said the focus is on the times and what he needs to do in the pool but in the heat of competition, he wants to score more points to help the team out. “It’s a little bit of both,” Withers said of the shared focus on the clock and competition.

Withers also finished fifth in the 200 free in 1:40.57, missing All-American consideration by four-hundredths of a second.

Eden Prairie junior Nate Tullemans takes a breath during the 200 I.M. final on Saturday. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)
Eden Prairie junior Nate Tullemans takes a breath during the 200 I.M. final on Saturday. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)

“The whole season we were definitely training for coming back, trying to win again,” Withers said. “We knew the challenges ahead of us, we knew how good Tonka was this year and how hard they work. That’s a group of guys that work really hard and we’re still very happy with last year’s success and still riding high from that. We’re happy for (Minnetonka) but the story is us too, we had a lot of great swims and a lot of swimmers saying goodbye and to send them away on this note awesome.”

Greenberg captured the 50 free title in a school record time of 20.31 to earn automatic All-American honors and classmate Devin Murphy was 15th in 22.10. Greenberg was second in the 100 free meeting the automatic All-American time of 45.14 while Skippers senior Sam Schilling went 44.20 to win the event and miss the record he set in prelims of 44.02. Dunn placed 10th in 47.84.

Eden Prairie junior Josh Withers powers toward the final wall during the Class AA 100 fly final. (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)
Eden Prairie junior Josh Withers powers toward the final wall during the Class AA 100 fly final. (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)

In the 200 Individual Medley, Eden Prairie had two swimmers in the championship final, Tullemans finished seventh in 1:54.04 and senior Austin Pham was eighth in 1:59.34.

Eden Prairie began the meet with a very respectable runner-up finish in the 200 medley relay with the group of Pham, Nik, Tullemans and Greenberg finishing in 1:33.57 while Minnetonka set a new all-time state record of 1:29.20.

“We have strong swimmers and the group of divers was a huge advantage for us this year but we also had some young guys get in there like Soren Dunn with some incredible swims and he got better and better as they year went along,” Boston said as Dunn was 10th in the 100 free, swam the third leg on the record-setting 200 free relay, anchored the 400 free and was 12th in the 100 breaststroke.

She organizes the season as a continual progression without peaks and valleys in performances. “I don’t try to get them too high at any point of the season but gradually get better and better and better. I was telling someone the other day it was like a flower, you see it start to bloom. And that’s what happened with Soren.”

Eden Prairie senior Jordan Greenberg, middle, stands on the podium after the 100 free final. (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)
Eden Prairie senior Jordan Greenberg, middle, stands on the podium after the 100 free final. (Photo by Mark Trockman-trockstock.com)

Tullemans was third in the 100 breaststroke final in 57.76 with Nik eighth in 59.97 and Dunn 12th in 59.43.

Pham was 10th in the 100 back in 51.54 and senior teammate Michael Genetti was 24th in 54.73.

Eden Prairie's Jordan Greenberg, middle, launches into the water to start the 50 free final during the Class AA state meet on Saturday. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)
Eden Prairie’s Jordan Greenberg, middle, launches into the water to start the 50 free final during the Class AA state meet on Saturday. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)

Eden Prairie closed out the meet with a fifth place finish in the 400 free relay as Withers, Pham, Murphy and Dunn finished in 3:09.55. Minnetonka used a 43.37 anchor leg by Schilling to win the event in an all-time record time of 3:01.59.

Eden Prairie senior divers each stood on the podium after the final three dives on Saturday with Peter Hegland third and Tommy Heil sixth in the standings. Hegland scored 416.95 points while Hastings junior Vova Tipler had 494.40 points in the 11-dive event and Edina junior Ryan Phillip was runner-up scoring 417.70 points. Heil scored 376.45 points and was 1.10 points ahead of Rosemount senior Stephen Satnik in seventh place.

Contact Jason Olson at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SunSportsJason