With so few opportunities to compete in its own pool in front of its home fans, the Minot High boys swimming and diving team had a little extra fire Saturday.
The Magicians went stroke for stroke with state-favorite Century before finishing second with a score of 568 in the six-team Minot Invite at Magic City Campus. The Patriots won the meet with 607 points.
"Having a good showing at home makes everyone feel good," MHS coach Jake Solper said. " ... When you're on the road all the time, if you swim well or if you don't, it's just another meet. But these home meets is really where it counts."
Minot High senior Ethan Bahl swims the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday in the Minot Invite at Magic City Campus. The Magicians finished second with a score of 568.
Minot won nine of the 12 events, including all three relays. Senior Ethan Bahl, junior Justin Kovich and freshman Gerald Brown each won two individual events and had a hand in sweeping the relays. In the 400-yard freestyle relay - the final event of the meet - the Magicians edged Century by 0.36 seconds.
"To have a good meet at home, it's not about winning or losing, it's (about) improving," Bahl said. "Improving is always a big deal. As long as you do better, it really helps the team."
Minot finished strong in its only home invite of the season, claiming the final six events. Kovich started the run by winning the 100 butterfly in 49.12 seconds. Brown won the 500 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, with a 200 freestyle relay victory in between. Bahl finished more than three seconds clear of Century's Kyler Alme in the 100 breaststroke before anchoring the 400 freestyle relay.
"This was just a really impressive meet," Solper said. "Our guys did an outstanding job. It goes to show how fired up our guys were and how ready to race they were. You get into these home invites and you have your home crowd cheering for you and you have some outstanding competition come and join us. It really pushes our guys."
Century won the three events not claimed by the Magicians. Junior Loren Sether won both the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly for the Patriots while senior Adam Berglund took the 1-meter diving crown with a score of 360.30. The Patriots finished second in the other nine events.
"Century is by far the favorite for this season coming into every meet," Solper said. "It's fun to have someone to chase a little bit. It helps to motivate our guys. We have a lot of respect for the guys on the Century team. Great coaches and athletes. It's exciting to be able to compete with guys like that and we've been having success. I like that rivalry."
The Magicians' runner-up position was never in jeopardy. Grand Forks was a distant third with 332 points, followed by Mandan with 251. Williston placed fifth with a score of 251 and Bismarck was sixth with 167.5.
"It's a huge confidence booster when you know you can do well (at home)," Kovich said. "You have the home advantage and having the crowd cheering for you feels really good."
Minot travels to Bismarck on Tuesday for a dual against the Demons at 5 p.m.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.