MHS boys swimming and diving bests Bismarck Century in dual meet

Ashton Gerard/MDN Minot High senior Charlie Wentz takes a breath during his 200-yard freestyle in a dual against Bismarck Century, Thursday at Magic City Campus.

The Minot High boys swimming and diving team tied Bismarck Century for the most first-place finishes in the Western Dakota Association this season (four) after a close dual meet win Thursday. The Magi outswam the Patriots 94-91 at Magic City Campus.

“It’s always obviously fun to win meets,” Minot High head coach Jake Solper said. “The challenging thing about any regular season meets, in the sport of swimming and diving, is they’re not great indicators for the final meet of the season.”

For the teams on Thursday, the dual meet was a heads up, head-to-head battle and the team scores reflect the competitiveness between the two teams.

The Magicians started the meet with two second-place finishes behind Century. The Minot High ‘A’ relay in the 200-yard medley could not overcome Century’s ‘A’ relay and was out-touched by 0.16 seconds.

Easton Evanoff started off the relay and put the Magicians in the lead with his 50-yard backstroke. Griffin Schaeffer was able to maintain the lead, but William Walker-Rozo’s fly was no match for Century. Finally, Steve Novak gave a great 50-yard freestyle performance, and almost recovered the lead but couldn’t out-touch Century.

Century’s Chris Birnbaum won the 200-yard freestyle race ahead of Minot’s Charlie Wentz. Wentz swam a 1:54.47, while Birnbaum was able to clutch the victory at 1:48.91.

Walker-Rozo was able to maintain his first place seeding in the 200-yard IM with a victory over Century’s Jayden Porter.

“To be swimming against Jayden Porter is a pretty tough task. Jayden is an outstanding IM-er and breaststroker … he’s a really well-rounded swimmer,” Solper said.

The pair finished within a second of each other, Walker-Rozo at 2:04.57 and Porter at 2:04.96.

The 50-yard freestyle saw another Century win, flanked by two Minot High finishes. Adam Nodland of Century won with a final time of 22.53 seconds, with Novak behind him at 23.05 and Gannon Miller rounding out the top three at 23.26.

Though Miller would’ve liked to see a better 50-yard freestyle race, he was able to best Nodland in the 100-yard freestyle.

“I kind of went in not knowing I was going to win,” Miller said about the first-place finish. “Adam (Nodland) is a really good swimmer, really good opponent, and I kind of had a personal goal of beating him all season so it felt nice to finally get it.”

Not only was it nice for Miller, but for the whole team as well. Upsetting the one-seeded swimmer earned the Magi an extra two points to their final scoring.

“I know Adam (Nodland) isn’t going to want that to happen again this season so he’ll be ready to compete at the rest of his meets too,” Solper said.

The Magicians saw another upset win from Evanoff in the 100-yard backstroke. Evanoff started the race ahead and kept inching his way forward to a one second victory over Century’s Charles Koebele. Evanoff finished at 56.48 seconds, while Koebele finished at 57.48. Minot’s Yoder Dominic finished off the top three at 59.20 seconds.

Century was able to sweep the top three in the 500-yard freestyle. Birnbaum finished first, Ryan Johnson finished second and Riley Kaul finished third for the Patriots.

The Patriots also took first in the 1-meter dive with Josh Pikarski, the 100-yard butterfly with Trysten Ruhland, the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 100-yard breaststroke with Porter, and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Though the victory is nice, Solper says the boys still have a lot of work ahead of them. At this point, the boys need to begin thinking about how they can bring their depth to state.

“When you get to the state meet and you have all the teams in the state there, sometimes our depth just misses that top 16 or they can’t quite crack the top eight, and that’s going to be what we need this year from our guys,” he said.

Solper said the boys need to finish in the top 16 to be able to come out and score points for the team to carry them to, potentially, first place.

For now, it’s back to practice as usual.

“I’m excited for taper,” Miller said about the rest of the season. “We’ve had some tough practices over the weeks, and they’ve only gotten worse, so now that we’re getting closer to senior night, I’m going to be sad because it’s my last year, but I’m ready for taper and ready to take on state.”

The Minot High boys swimming and diving team heads to Mandan Saturday for the Mandan Invitational starting at 10:30 p.m. at the Mandan Aquatics Center. There, the Magi will see Bismarck Century, Bismarck High, Dickinson, Bismarck Legacy, Mandan, and Williston.