Stern, 200 medley relay, win state titles
After an undefeated run through the South Suburban Conference, a third-place finish at the True Team State Meet and a fifth-straight Section 3AA championship, the Rosemount swimming and diving team finished right where it was expected to.
Ranked fourth in Class 2A in the initial coaches poll back in early December, the Irish kept up their end of things with a fourth-place total of 178 points last Saturday at the Class 2A State Championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. That total was bolstered by state championships in two events and top-seven finishes in five others.
"It was a big step for us. I obviously was hoping that we could sneak into the top three, but I am still very happy with where we finishes," said Rosemount coach Patti Wegner, who was captain of the Irish girls team that won state in 1999. "It was a great ending to a wonderful season. I am really happy for all of our guys, especially our seniors. They really put a great ending onto their amazing careers."
Rosemount's all-senior 200 medley relay made the team's biggest splash in Saturday's first final, setting a new Class 2A state record and breaking its own school record with a time of 1 minute, 33.37 seconds. The foursome of Braden McCormack, Jacob Stern, Luke Dowell and Conor Manning teamed up to best runner-up Minnetonka by over two seconds. The effort earned the relay All-American honors.
"It was an amazing swim," Wegner said. "It really helped start out the finals with a bang. This relay has been a big focus for us all year and it really had a storybook ending."
Stern wasn't done winning state titles. He came back later in the meet to win the 100 breaststroke with a lifetime-best time of 57.46 seconds. He swam splits of 26.48 and 30.98 seconds, respectively, in besting his prelim time by over a second.
Stern was also part of the 200 freestyle relay that earned All-American consideration with a second-place finish. Stern, Manning, Dowell and Shelton Hatlen combined on a time of 1:26.20.
Stern rounded out his state meet with a 14th-place finish in the 200 individual medley.
Also earning All-American consideration was Braden McCormack. He placed third in the 100 backstroke in 51.46 seconds and also teamed up with Halten, Dowell and Andrew Urness for a sixth-place time of 3:12.27 in the 400 freestyle relay.
Manning added to his big day in the relays with a fifth-place individual finish in the 50 freestyle. He slipped at the start, but still managed to clock in at 21.52 seconds. Manning also swam career-best splits in both relays.
Hatlen also added a top-10 finish to go with his two relay appearances. He placed seventh in the 100 freestyle in 47.21 seconds.
Other top-16 Rosemount finishes came from Urness in the 500 freestyle (13th) and 200 freestyle (16th), Dowell in the 100 butterfly (11th) and Matthew McCormack in the 100 backstroke (15th).
Eden Prairie pulled away for the state title with 314 ½ points. Maple Grove and Minnetonka tied for second with 206 points.