MORRIS -- Bemidji High School’s Aiden Saari and Brooks Matetich punched their tickets Saturday to the Class A state boys swimming and diving meet. Saari was crowned diving champion and Matetich posted a second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly at the Section 5A meet in Morris.
The two Lumberjacks will each make their first career trip to state.
Saari scored a 355.95 in diving to take first place ahead of Alexandria’s Caden Kavanagh (352.05). The junior was also named Section 5A Diver of the Year.
“Aiden dove steady for two days and … was just plain consistent, and that’s what you need to be in diving,” co-head coach Woody Leindecker said.
Matetich, a sophomore, qualified for state after his second-place time of 56.05 in the 100 fly, bested only by Alexandria senior Luca Dauer’s time of 54.35.
“Brooks was awesome this weekend in all of his events,” Leindecker said. “He got himself in position in the butterfly. I think he was about the third seed going in and he had a tough field of flyers going into that. It was a gutsy race, plain and simple.”
The Bemidji 400 free relay team of Matetich, Kolden Michalicek, Ben Dockendorf and Walker Erickson almost qualified for state. The top three finishers in each event advance to state and the Jacks’ time of 3:25.86 came within one-quarter of a second of third-place Melrose-Sauk Centre.
“They all did what they needed to do,” Leindecker said. “Walker had one heck of an anchor and it was just down to the touch and (Melrose-Sauk Centre) touched first.”
The Lumberjacks finished fourth overall as a team with 231 points, trailing Sartell-St. Stephen (491), Alexandria (484) and Melrose-Sauk Centre (305).
“The whole team was incredible this weekend, especially our first-year swimming guys,” Leindecker said. “If you would’ve asked us at the beginning of the season if they would be where they were, I’d say no way. They exceeded all expectations. We have a really good future here with boys swimming with what we have now, but we just need more numbers.”
The Class A state meet begins with diving prelims at noon on Thursday, Feb. 27, with the swimming prelims set for noon on Friday, Feb. 28. The Class A swimming and diving finals are scheduled for noon on Saturday, Feb. 29. The meet will take place at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
1-Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres 491; 2-Alexandria 484; 3-Melrose-Sauk Centre 305; 4-Bemidji 231; 5-Park Rapids 179; 6-Fergus Falls 168; 7-Detroit Lakes 128; 8-Perham-New York Mills 81; 9-Thief River Falls 71; 10-Morris 45.