Raptors senior 100-yard breaststroker Alexander Heide approached the starting blocks during the state meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center last Saturday night a little surprised with what he was feeling.
“I think this is the calmest I’ve ever been before a race,” Heide said. “I knew the only thing I had to prove was to myself.”
Heide swam fast and capped his career with a sixth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke -- a perfect way to go out for Heide.
“That was the last race of my career,” he said. “It was really gratifying to go out like this. I’ve just been reflecting on my career now. It’s a weird feeling. I’m excited to be finished. I’m also definitely going to miss it. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
East Ridge coach Meghan Weiss was proud of the way Heide competed.
“He was great,” she said. “He had nothing to lose.”
Heide was the only member of the Raptors to qualify for the state meet this season. And while he was excited he had the chance to finish his career on a high note, Heide said he took more pride in being a captain than anything else.
“My goal for the season was to be a good captain,” Heide said. “It’s been rewarding. So while it’s been gratifying to make it here I think the more rewarding part for me has been seeing this team come together.”
East Ridge was a much different team this season than recent seasons. It lost a large number of its most-talented competitors to graduation.
“There was a lot less certainty heading into this season,” Heide said. “We had a very large group of underclassmen come in and they worked their butts off. I think because of that East Ridge will have a lot of success in the future.”
It was also the inaugural season for Weiss -- one she said she won’t soon forget.
“It’s been such an easy transition,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better season. There was definitely a learning curve, but I think by the end of the season we were on the same page and we saw that translate to success at the section meet. We had some incredible drops in time at the section meet. And then with Alex tonight was a perfect cap to the season.”
Weiss credited the leadership of Heide and the rest of the Class of 2016 with helping lay a solid foundation for success.
“I think for him and the rest of the captains it was about trying hard to build the team back up to where it has been in the past,” she said. “We have a young team coming back and I think the more success we have, the more it gets those kids excited.”
As for Heide? He has high goals for the future of the program.
“I know this group is very excited to work hard,” he said. “I’m sure next season there will be a lot more guys from East Ridge that make it here.”