Two weeks from today, the boys swimming and diving state meet begins in Grand Forks, and the West Region meet is a week from tomorrow in Mandan.
Now's hardly the time to expect stellar times, or personal bests, for that matter.
Yet, on Thursday at Magic City Campus, Minot High did just that. The Magicians swept all 12 events with five event-winners setting personal bests in a 140-45 romp over Williston.
"Guys swam a lot better than we thought they would for a meet this late in the season," Minot senior Ryan Swartwout said. "It's easy to believe we'll swim even faster at state."
After finishing first and second in 200-yard medley relay to open the meet, the Magicians posted season bests in the first three individual swimming events.
Junior Chris Stock finished the 200 freestyle in 2 minutes, 1.47 seconds and senior Kevin McGlaughlin clocked in at 2:12.55 to win the 200 medley relay. Junior Justin Kovich followed with a time of 22.04 seconds - 2.47 better than the rest of the field - to take first in the 50 freestyle.
"It's a tough time in the season to really have those personal-best times because we're still trying to prepare for the final meet of the year: state," Minot coach Jake Solper said. "We really have to keep our eye on the prize that way. But then you watch these guys and they're really motivated to make the WDA lineup or to make the state lineup."
Minot divers Patrick Drouin (232.50 points), Kailan Horne (227.25) and Kao Jenne (189.50) finished first, second and third, respectively, in 1-meter diving with each registering a season-high score. Drouin topped his previous best by 6.7 points.
"Patrick Drouin tried to throw a few more flips into his list than he has in previous meets," Solper said. "I think that one of his goals was to see if he can score with as high as a (dive difficulty) is allowed. He was again successful at that."
Junior Jeremy Evans and Kovich breezed to wins in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle, while freshman Gerald Brown wasn't challenged in the 500 freestyle or the 100 backstroke.
Brown, Evans, Kovich, Swartwout and senior Ethan Bahl each swam on two of Minot's three winning relay teams.
The latter quartet of those five teamed up to win the 200 freestyle relay with a season-best 1:30.12, more than 14 seconds ahead of second-place Williston.
The extra large crowd - there for Senior Night - reminded Bahl of the fan support he expects to see at the Magicians' final two meets of the year. It was a welcome reminder.
"The audience here was packed today and WDA's gonna be a little bit bigger," said Bahl, who won the 100 breaststroke. "This will get us a little bit more pumped up for that and state."
Notes: Senior captain Mason Bahl, Ethan's twin brother, missed the meet due to a fractured transverse process in his spine. Solper said it's still unclear how he sustained the injury. Bahl, both a strong swimmer and diver, will miss the West Region meet.
"We're hoping he'll be recovered enough in time to make it back for state, but obviously we have to take injuries pretty seriously," Solper said. "Can't get somebody in there and reinjure their back because that could have some really lasting effects."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.