It’s crunch time for Eden Prairie High School’s boys swim and dive team.
After fantastic swims at the Section 2AA Tournament Feb. 24-25 that earned them second place overall, and a phenomenal season that saw them crowned Lake Conference champs for the first time since 2016, the team is sending 14 swimmers and one diver to the state tournament starting tonight.
“The section meet was the tale of two sessions,” said Kelly Boston, the team’s head coach. “On Friday night the boys came in and secured their lanes. On Saturday night the boys opened up with a fantastic medley relay and never looked back.”
She said, “Our team philosophy builds up to this section finals session all season. It is the only time you can qualify for the state meet. Divers need to place top four. Swimmers need to equal or better the state cut or place first or second in their event. We put all of our eggs into this session by waiting to wear technical suits and shaving until it counts.”
Boston said the boys were prepared and at their peak for finals. “Physically and mentally, the boys were ready to go on Saturday night,” she said. “We qualified 14 swims and one dive to state, which is more than I would have banked on in November.
“I am not only proud of the boys who qualified for state, but all of the Eagles. The majority of our swims and dives were lifetime best performances. Some swims were personal records on Friday and again on Saturday.”
The team’s exceptional performances at the meet, which was held at Eden Prairie Community Center’s (EPCC) aquatic center, included three new pool records set by the Eagles.
The first was by senior Alex Oestreich, who broke the pool’s 11-dive record on Friday afternoon. The second was in the medley relay final, when the team of Luke Logue, Brian Shi, Drew Ploof, and Eric Howard finished first in 1:32.59.
The third was just two events later in the 200 IM, when Logue broke the record with a time of 1:51.34. However, despite these successes, senior co-captain Logue said he is focused on what’s ahead: “We did well at sections, but the job’s not done.”
The performances were especially notable, considering that there were many schedule disruptions due to the winter storm.
Boston said, “This team time after time has maximized their potential and capitalized when the stakes were high. We had so many unknowns last week with the weather. Once it was announced that the meet would be pushed back to diving/prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday, I could see the weight of the world lift off of the athletes shoulders.”
Boston added, “They did well with being flexible and controlling what they had control of. The EPCC staff worked with us all week keeping our athletes in the water when the weather allowed which was huge.”
Special sections honors were also awarded at the meet. Boston tied for section head coach of the year, EP’s Kelly Derouin was named section diving coach of the year, EP’s Anna Gard was in a 5-way tie for section assistant coach of the year, Oestreich was named section diver of the year, and Logue was named swimmer of the year.
State tournament is March 2-4 at the University of Minnesota
The state tournament takes place March 2-4 at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Diving prelims and semis are Thursday, March 2, at 6 p.m., swimming prelims are Friday, March 3, at 6 p.m., and swimming and diving finals are Saturday, March 4, at 6 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online and events will be streamed live. There are several sports events happening on campus this weekend, so attendees are advised to plan ahead and arrive early to find parking.
The following team members will be listed on the state entry: Alex Oestreich, Luke Anderson, Brian Shi, Brian Hu, Mark Derouin, Charlie Folks, Eric Howard, Matt Lillejord, Luke Logue, Erik Peterson, Drew Ploof, John McMahon, Abhi Madireddy, Lucas Johnson, and Ben Ploof.
Senior co-captain Erik Peterson said, “I’m really excited for this upcoming week especially after seeing so many of the guys on the team do so well at sections. It’s really rewarding seeing all of our hard work pay off. I think we’ve set ourselves up for success at state by qualifying a lot of people and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens this weekend.”
He added, “As a captain it’s been really rewarding to be able to help guide and strengthen the team. I’ve enjoyed working with the other captains and seeing our vision for the team at the beginning of the season fall into place.”
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