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Lumberjacks swimming and diving: Howard places third, Hemp ninth at state meet

Sam Howard

MINNEAPOLIS — Sam Howard capped his high school diving career in style Saturday as the Bemidji senior captured third place at the Class A state meet at the University of Minnesota pool.

Entering Saturdays’ final three dives Howard was in third place and he preserved that position by nailing each of his Saturday performances.

“I knew that if I hit all of my dives I would stay where I was or possibly even advance,” Howard said. “My goal on Saturday was to go out and do my thing. And that’s what I did.”

Brandon Pearson of Breck-Blake owned a comfortable lead heading into Saturday’s finals and the senior protected that cushion, winning the state title with 410 points.

Austin Ferris of Faribault finished second with 392.90 and Howard claimed third with 375.85.

Completing the top five were Mitch Raihle of Spring Lake Park (371.15) and Mathew Bethke of Sauk Rapids (363.25).

“Sam was very consistent with his dives,” said BHS diving coach Ryan Ohnstad. “He scored about 40 points on each and that was more than enough to keep him in third.”

Howard admitted to being nervous prior to Saturday’s competition but the tension left after he nailed his first dive.

“I’m always nervous at the start,” Howard said, “and on Saturday I had the butterflies like crazy. But, after the first dive, I calmed down and just concentrated on my dives.

“It’s a weird feeling being done with my high school diving career. But (placing third at state) was a good way to go out.”

His coach agreed.

“Before the meet we were hoping to get into the top eight and to medal,” Ohnstad said. “I was hoping that Sam could finish in the top four and to place third is awesome.”

Hemp finishes ninth

Tyler Hemp dominated Saturday’s consolation heat of the 100 breast stroke and officially finished ninth at the state meet.

Hemp’s time of 1:00.52 actually was faster than the seventh and eighth place finishers of the championship heat but swimmers in the consolation race are not allowed to overtake any championship-heat swimmers even if their Saturday times are faster.

The BHS senior held a commanding lead over his nearest challenger Saturday as his time was 1.19 seconds faster than that of William Mayleben of St. Thomas Academy who was 10th.

Hemp’s effort also bettered the 1:00.79 clocking of Michael Richter of Detroit Lakes who placed seventh and the 1:01.80 time of Hutchinson’s Riley Fairbanks who was eighth.

Bemidji’s 200 medley relay team of Nate Gubbels, Hemp, Matt Arndt and Wyatt Yartz also held its position Saturday as the unit finished 13th with a time of 1:44.16.

BHS earned 33 points at the state meet and finished 23rd. A pair of private schools, St. Thomas Academy and Breck-Blake, took the top two spots.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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