Packers are ready to make waves at state

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Austin's Carson Hackel, from left, Nick Brehmer, Caleb Bentley, Ian Christopherson and Craig Heimark will be representing the Packers swim team at the Minnesota Boys' State Swim Meet later this week in Minneapolis. - Eric Johnson/

This Friday, Austin junior Nick Brehmer will make his third straight trip the Class ‘A’ boys swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

But this time things are a little different for Brehmer as he’s looking to finish in the top-eight for the first time in his career and he’s also bringing a few friends with him for the first time.

Brehmer will swim in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyles at state, while teaming up with first-time state qualifiers Craig Heimark, Carson Hackel and Ian Christopherson in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

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Austin senior diver Caleb Bentley is also making his first state meet appearance.

“They’ll all do fine and it’s not that much different than sections,” said Brehmer. “It’s just bigger and there’s a lot more adrenaline.”

Brehmer is seeded eighth out of 25 swimmers with a time of 1:49.34 in the 200-freestyle and he’s seeded 10th in the 100-freestyle with a time of 49.52. Paul Fair of Monticello has the fastest qualifying 200-freestyle time (1:44.67) and Luke Johanns of St. Thomas has the fastest qualifying 100-freestyle time (47.34).

Brehmer, who is swimming half a second faster in both of his races than he was last season, is hoping to make the top-eight and swim in Saturday’s finals, so he can make All-State.

“It’s possible but it’s not for sure at all,” he said of swimming in the finals. “I won’t be quite as nervous as I have been.”

Craig Heimark, an eighth grader, said Brehmer’s leadership has been key this season. He also said the 400-freestyle team had to make it to the state meet this year.

“We pretty much had to go or otherwise (head coach Lynn Gulbrandson) would’ve killed us,” Heimark joked.

The relay team comes in with a time of 3:25.22 and is seeded 18th out of 23 teams. A team from St. Thomas has the fastest qualifying time at 3:16.37.

The Packers are hoping to move up a couple of spots so they can swim in Saturday’s consolation finals.

Although they probably won’t be swimming for a state title, Christopherson, a sophomore, said the team will have plenty of motivation.

“I think there’s a lot more pressure because we want to get in the top 16 and get back there the second day,” he said.

Hackel, a junior, is looking forward to just competing in the state meet for the first time.

“It’s going to be fun and it’s a good experience for us. We’re not all seniors and everybody’s coming back next year,” he said. “We’re the very last event and it’s going to be kind of hard to get loose and get our bodies ready.”

Bentley will be diving at the state meet for the first time, but he has gone to diving camps at the University of Minnesota before, so he won’t be too blown away.

“I’m pretty excited, It’s going to be fun,” said Bentley, who is one of 16 divers at state. “I’m not nearly as nervous as sections, because I don’t have to make it in the top four or anything. I just have to compete.”

Bentley wasn’t pleased with his last two dives at the section meet and he’s hoping to put up a better score at state. He also doesn’t expect to be fazed by the competition as he’s already seen one of the best divers in the state firsthand.

Hill Murray junior Joe McGrath, who took second at state last year, won the Section 1A meet that Bentley dove in this past Saturday.

The Class ‘A’ diving prelims will take place Thursday at noon at the Aquatic Center and Class ‘A’ swimming prelims will take place Friday at noon at the Aquatic Center. The Class ‘A’ finals will begin Saturday at noon.