SWIMMING: Stingrays notch 13 Top-6 finishes at state meet, 6 are headed to regionalsMINNEAPOLIS — Oliver Wolyniec had one final shot to qualify for the YMCA Regional Swim Meet.
MINNEAPOLIS — Oliver Wolyniec had one final shot to qualify for the YMCA Regional Swim Meet.
He made the most of it.
Sunday at the YMCA state meet in Minneapolis, the 12-year-old Worthington Stingray finished the 50-yard breaststroke in 40.54 seconds and claimed fifth place.
In his third and final race of the day, he chopped 1.77 seconds off of his previous time — and slipped just underneath the qualifying mark he needed to extend his swimming season another month.
“He came through on the breaststroke — his favorite stroke,” Stingrays’ head coach Donna Damm said of Wolyniec, who also raced in the 50 freestyle and the 100 individual medley. “It was his last chance to get to the regional competition. … The kids were all cheering for him, so everybody was pretty excited.”
Everybody, including the 23 other Stingrays who competed in Sunday’s state competition.
For many of the swimmers, especially in the younger ranks, it was their first trip to the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis.
“A lot of times, you get the new kids there, especially the younger ones, and it kind of scares them a little bit — throws them off,” Damm said. “But these kids, as many of the new ones as we had there, they really did a great job.
“They swam like it was a regular meet.”
Tim Skog had the best finish among the Stingrays, placing second in the Boys 14 & Under 50 freestyle (25.41). He also took fourth in the 100 freestyle.
For Dave Sorensen and Kari Engelkes, the two high-school seniors on the team, Sunday was the final state meet of their careers.
Sorensen had a pair of third-place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyles (25.41, 59.50), plus a fourth-place performance in the 100 backstroke (1:15.57).
Engelkes, meanwhile, grabbed fourth and fifth place in the 100 and 50 freestyles (59.75, 26.51), respectively.
In the Boys 18 & Under division, Matt Sorensen took third place in the 200 individual medley, crossing in 3:13.99.
Gordy Moore finished fifth in the 100 backstroke — nine seconds behind Dave Sorensen — in the same division.
The Stingrays’ other Top 5 finish came from Ben Doeden, who touched in fifth place during the Boys 14 & Under 200 individual medley.
But the team’s fastest times, according to Damm, came in the relays.
“(When they swim) as a team, they get really excited and push each other,” the coach said. “One kid does good, so the next one picks it up and keeps it going.”
Skog, Moore and the Sorensen boys combined for a second-place finish in the Boys 18 & Under 200 Medley relay, good for second place.
The Stingrays’ 12 & Under Boys Medley relay team took fourth place, comprised of Bryan Doeden, Levi Blanchard, Justin Paulzine and Eli Gaul.
Other Stingrays who competed in various events included: Blaine Doeden, Porter Elsing, Sarah Janssen, Cameron Jenson, Meredith Moore, Dillon Pedersen, Anwar Farra, Kyle Janssen, Madison Neuberger, Tracy Prins, Alex Baustian, Tori Elsing and Rebecca Christensen.
Six of them will return to the Twin Cities on March 27-28 for the YMCA Midwest Regional Meet, which will take place in the exact same pool.
There, the Stingrays will compete against the best swimmers from the seven different states that comprise the Midwest Region.
“The kids will have extreme competition there, so you will only see the best,” Damm said. “The six that are going, they fit into that category.”
Besides Wolyniec; Engelkes, Skog, Neuberger, Dave Sorensen and Sarah Janssen also made the cut.
Everyone but Wolyniec posted their qualifying times earlier in the year.
Sunday, though, capped a banner season for most of the Stingrays — a year that brought the most swimmers, percentage-wise, that Damm has ever brought to the state competition.
Now, she has a brand-new swimming pool at the recently-constructed YMCA to help her lure in new prospects and keep the ones she already has.
She’s hoping the program continues to build off this year’s success.
Said Damm: “I did say to some of the kids, ‘We will see you next year, right?’
“A lot of them, it’s their first year,” she added. “You just hope the impression they got of the swim team was exciting for them and their parents, so that they’ll be coming back.”