MINNEAPOLIS -- Brooks Matetich of the Bemidji High School boys swimming and diving team placed 18th in his Class A state meet debut on Friday at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“That’s exactly what you want to happen: to be able to walk out knowing you put it all out there,” BHS co-head coach Kristen McRae said. “It’s his first rodeo, and he did really well. Nerves or whatever might even be there. He was able to keep everything focused and in control, and he was able to take charge of his race. He left it all in the pool and ended on a high note.”

Matetich finished the 100-yard butterfly in 55.96 seconds, jumping up two places from his seed time. The sophomore finished the first lap in 25.38, which ranked 14th out of 22 swimmers, and completed the second lap in 30.58.

“He dropped more time,” McRae said, in comparison to Matetich’s section results. “It was fantastic. He moved up two spots and keeps dropping (time).”

Winona senior Grant Wolner was first in the field with a time of 50.02. Breck-Blake’s Nam Truong took the final championship spot with an eighth-place finish of 53.75, and Red Wing’s Nick Bayley claimed the last consolation finals spot in 55.26 for 16th.

Because he placed 18th, Matetich missed a qualifying spot for Saturday’s finals. However, the 17th- and 18th-place finishers stand as alternates if any of the top 16 bow out of the finals.

Bemidji junior Aiden Saari will take part in the Class A state diving finals at noon on Saturday, Feb. 29. Likewise, the Class A swimming finals are also set to begin at noon.

But, whether or not Matetich winds up back in the pool, McRae said Friday’s experience will go a long way.

“A lot of it is fuel to the fire to get going, get motivated and reset your goals to know you can get here,” she said. “Then to be able to come here and keep getting better as you go, it’s (great). … This is a notch in Brooks’ belt for next year.”