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Swimming and Diving: Royals send two swimmers, one team to state finals

Woodbury senior Eric Sortland touches the wall to finish his 100-yard freestyle preliminary swim Friday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 2
Woodbury sophomore Timothy Rizzo swims in the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries Friday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 2

A strong season in the freestyle events for the Woodbury boys' swimming and diving team nearly resulted in a top-20 team finish at the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet over the weekend.

Woodbury finished 21st as a team with 38 team points after sending two individual swimmers and one relay team to the state finals Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

Senior Eric Sortland competed in two finals for the Royals with his highest finish being 10th place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.58 seconds. The Woodbury senior also placed 13th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 48.06.

"I gained a little bit of time, but it was just about what I had went the day before," Sortland said about the two events. "I was happy with them."

Sophomore Timothy Rizzo finished ninth in the 500 freestyle after turning in a finals time of 4:42.01. Rizzo also qualified for state in the 200 freestyle and took 19th in the preliminaries in 1:46.19.

Rizzo was able to cut more than two seconds off his preliminary 500 freestyle time of 4:44.42 in Saturday's finals. He credited the benefit of not swimming two events in a row Saturday for helping him shave time.

"In prelims, I did the 200 free beforehand," Rizzo said. "And in finals, I didn't have to. So I was nice and rested for the 500."

The Woodbury 200 freestyle relay team of Tom Hathaway, Calvin Sroga, Rizzo and Sortland also placed ninth in the finals with a time of 1:28.22. Hathaway gave the relay team a boost in the finals by swimming his best leg of the season.

"I was very, very happy," Sortland said about the relay's finish. "Everyone swam really fast. Tom led off with a best time, so that was really good."

Woodbury showed off its specialty in the freestyle events by qualifying two individuals and two relay teams to state. The Royals put all of their stock into freestyle this season knowing it would likely be their strength.

"We knew going into this season we were a little weak in the non-freestyle strokes, so we all trained really hard to get our freestyle better than it was," Sortland said.

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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