Kelly Boston, the team’s head coach, said it was an “outstanding team effort” as EP faced a tough challenger. Wayzata and Minnetonka had tied Minnetonka in December—“the two teams leading the charge for the Lake Conference title,” she said.
“Our top end is a little stronger than the other teams in the Lake,” she added. “We knew it was going to take our 2-3 athletes getting better for us to compete for the Lake title. The boys have been working extremely hard not only training, but on the fundamentals that make them better swimmers and divers.”
EP varsity boys went into exhibition after the 100 backstroke event, having earned enough points to make it impossible for Wayzata to win. Exhibition swims don’t earn team points, but give swimmers a chance to earn times and gain meet experience.
“Our goal was to go into exhibition after the breaststroke,” Boston said. “We were able to do it an event earlier. We knew the key was to win all three relays. We also snuck our B 200 medley and 200 free relays into scoring positions.”
Team’s hard work is paying off
Boston said she was impressed by the team’s varsity middle-distance free group, calling out senior Charlie Folks and junior Mark Derouin for their “outstanding” races in the 200 free and 500 free, and senior Erik Peterson for the 500 free.
“These athletes are swimming far better than they were at this time last season. We are going to keep challenging them as they are responding well and getting faster and stronger,” she said.
Boston also called out the 400 free relay team of Folks and fellow seniors Matthew Lillejord, Eric Howard, and Luke Logue for their first-place swim, despite the race being in exhibition.
The team practiced hard throughout winter break, slogging their way to the pool even through snow and ice storms for daily practices, often in the early morning.
“One hundred percent of our athletes prioritized winter break training and that will help us as we move into championship season,” Boston said. “We are happy to get the win against Wayzata, but will keep our foot on the gas as we strive for our bigger team goals.”
This week Eden Prairie will take on Class A state champs Breck-Blake, “which will be another great opportunity for the Eagles,” Boston said.
Strong showing at Maroon and Gold Invitational
Several Eagles swimmers also competed on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Maroon and Gold Invitational held at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. The meet draws swimmers from out-of-state schools as well as Classes A and AA.
Boston said swimming in this meet at the U against unknown competition is a big draw for her swimmers. EP wore their regular team suits, as opposed to technical suits, which have a tighter fit and are made of special material to reduce water saturation and drag.
“As a team, we choose not to wear technical suits until our championship season. It’s always a fun challenge for the EP guys to race technically suited guys at meets like Maroon and Gold.”
She said the team performed well at the meet. “Our Medley and 400 free relays stood up especially well, as did Luke Logue in the 200 IM and 100 back. Drew Ploof was also extremely solid in the 200 free and 100 fly.”
Boston made special note of junior Brian Shi and senior Ben Ploof: “Both athletes were solid on Friday night and were even better last night. That is hard to do after a big dual meet. Senior diver Alex Oestreich also had an outstanding 11 dive meet, getting third for the Eagles.”
She added, “Our B and C 400 free relays also had outstanding splits. These guys did not swim until after 9:30pm last night. That is tough at the end of a long two days racing.”
Winter break fun meet drew several alums
The team hasn’t been all about hard work—the Eagles also hosted a fun alumni meet over winter break, drawing returning swimmers from the past decade of EP swim and dive.
The captains created two teams from a mix of current swimmers and alumni for some lighthearted competition. The highly energetic event resulted in a suspiciously convenient tie that nevertheless seemed to satisfy everyone.
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