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Swimming and Diving: East Ridge defeats Park in the pool

East Ridge's Carlo Mollari cuts through the water during the backstroke Thursday at Cottage Grove Middle School. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 5
Park's Mack Christianson goes the distance in the 500 freestyle Thursday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 5
East Ridge swimmer Carter Smith swims the butterfly during Thursday's meet at Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)3 / 5
Brad Ostrom spins through the air during the diving event Thursday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)4 / 5
Park's Ross Dietzsch drives forward in the 200 individual medley Thursday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)5 / 5

The section swimming and diving season is fast approaching.

That was apparent as the East Ridge and Park boys' swimming and diving teams faced off in a Suburban East Conference dual at Cottage Grove Middle School Thursday.

East Ridge won the meet by a team score of 98-85. The Raptors were led by Casey McGrath as he took first place in both the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 52.56 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 51.66.

East Ridge also had teams place first in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.

Only one dual meet remains on the SEC schedule for both teams Feb. 9. Looming on the calendar in a few weeks is the Class 2A, Section 3 swimming and diving meet on Feb. 22 through 24.

“I’m looking forward to sections,” said Carter Smith, who took first in the 100 butterfly with a time of 56.96. “Because, from last year, I’ve come a long way in different events that I’ve never swam before.”

Park was led in the pool Thursday by Ross Dietzsch, who finished first in the 200 individual medley (2:10.70) and the 100 breaststroke (1:05.37).

The senior already holds the program record in the 100 breaststroke, and he hopes to at least match that record one more time in his final shot at the postseason.

“Hopefully beat my own 100 breaststroke record, and last year I was within half a second of a 200 IM record,” Dietzsch said. “So maybe I can get that one, too.”

East Ridge divers finished first and second in Thursday's meet. Brad Ostrom scored a 238.80 to finish first, and Carter Opsahl finished second with a 196.80.

Ostrom has improved in his senior season to become one of the most competitive divers in the section. Head coach Meghan Weiss said the team's diving coach Renee Seipel has been happy with Ostrom’s effort in practice.

“Renee has said he’s very coachable,” Weiss said. “He takes everything so analytical. He’ll get out, watch the film, and then he’s got this really good body awareness. I think this year it’s all starting to come together.”

Carlo Mallari also scored a first-place finish in the 100 backstroke (59.00) for East Ridge. Park's other first place finishes were scored by Boone Blaschko in the 50 freestyle (23.20) and Mack Christianson in the 500 freestyle (5:01.31).

The Park swimmers celebrated a tradition in the final meet of the regular season to douse head coach Amanda Johnson with a bucket of water.

After drying off a bit, Johnson said the team has groomed a few swimmers that should be competitive in the section competition. She credited offseason work with club teams for helping improve the team's swimmers.

“I think a lot of it helps with these little ones saying they’ve enjoyed it so much that they want to do it a little bit more," Johnson said. "So they go to club, and they come back. We have a strong eighth-grade group right now, and that’s been really effective for filling in those spots that we didn’t have last year.”

With a relatively young group of kids, Weiss said some of the swimmers spent the fall gearing up for the start of the season. She hopes more follow suit next year.

“I think swimming in the fall right before our season starts is critical because it’s so short,” Weiss said. “Twelve weeks goes fast.”

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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