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Swimming & Diving: Depth helps secure highest-ever finish

Farmington placed second out of eight teams -- its best finish ever -- and qualified four events for next weekend's Class AA State Meet with a strong showing at Friday's Section 1AA Swimming and Diving Championships in Rochester.

Rochester Century dominated the meet, winning for the third straight year with 416 team points. The Tigers were well off the pace with 321 points, but finished ahead of teams from Northfield (310), Hastings (269), John Marshall (245), Owatonna (229), Mayo (155) and Winona (154).

The Tigers will be represented individually at the state meet by Brian Huls, who was fourth in the 100 backstroke, and Tyler Magalis, who will return to state after finishing second in the one-meter dive.

The 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays will also compete after placing second and fourth, respectively, at the section meet. Huls, Tyler Smith, Brandon Molnar and Nick Haugen filled out both qualifying relays.

But first-year head coach Ryan Hamen was quick to point out it took more than just the state-qualifying events to accumulate the points that gave the Tigers second place.

"Had (the consolation swimmers) not achieved the times they did, we would not have earned the points we did giving us second place," Hamen said. "Having 2-4 swimmers in each event is what it took for Farmington to achieve this high of placement."

After the 200 medley relay opened the meet with its state-qualifying swim, Dylan Cavanaugh followed with a fourth-place showing in the 200 freestyle. Senior Michael Brasgalla added a season-best time of 1:57 and sophomore Allen Berg placed second in the consolation bracket with a 1:53.68. Cavanaugh went on to place fifth, three spots ahead of Berg, in the 500 freestlye finals.

The Tigers got four more strong efforts in the 200 individual medley, where Smith led the way with a fourth-place effort. Haugen wasn't far back in sixth and Zack Holton and Taylor Kampa each posted what Hamen called "great times" in the consolation heat. Kampa also earned second in the consolation heat of the 100 freestyle.

Later in the meet, Smith and Haugen provided another strong finish up front by going 5-7 in the 100 breaststroke finals. Matt Stephan and Brasgalla finished fifth and sixth in the consolation heat.

In the 50 freestyle, Huls met the state qualifying standard in the prelims, but missed out by one-hundredth of a second in the final. Molnar added some points with an eighth-place finish.

Magalis met the qualifying standard in the 1-meter dive, once again qualifying for state, where he placed 11th last year. But teammate Aaron Christopherson failed to make the return trip, falling to sixth place in the finals.

Another strong scoring double followed in the 100 butterfly. Holton led the Tigers with a sixth-place swim and Molnar was right behind in eighth.

In the 100 backstroke, Jaymes Awbrey cut six seconds off his personal best time to place third in the consolation.

Heading into the meet's final event -- the 400 freestyle relay -- the Tigers needed to place in the top six to hold off Northfield for second place. The foursome of Berg, Kampa, Cavanaugh and Holton responded by earning second place.

Of the five Tiger swimmers that will continue their season this week at the Class AA State Meet at the University of Minnesota, three have state experience after qualifying for the first time last season. Along with Magalis, Molnar and Haugen were part of an 11th-place showing in the 200 freestyle relay last season. The Tigers ended up 20th in the final team standings a year ago with 35.5 points, thanks in large part to the efforts of standout senior Erik Huls.

Two years ago, Huls, Devon Meeks and Tanner Classon combined to lead the Tigers to 13th place by racking up 75 team points.