Projected to perhaps crack the top 3, Red Wing’s Zach Mikkelson vaulted ahead of the other divers in the late rounds of the 1-meter Section 1A diving competition Saturday night at Century High School. His Round 10 dive score of 43.2 put him ahead of teammate Landen Nelson and Mankato East’s Cole Javens. Mikkelson had previously finished third at the Big 9 conference championship meet while Javens was second.

Mikkelson finished with a total, 11-round score of 336.75, setting a new Century pool record. Nelson came in third place with a score of 316.7. Each freshman qualified for the Class A state meet.

Making the biggest improvements was Nelson who came off a 299.85 and eighth-place finish at the Big 9 meet.

The two were within three points of each other and leading the group of divers until the 10th round.

Earlier in the day at the Rochester Rec Center, Ethan Ihrke qualified for state in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 54.48 seconds and in third place. It’s his event, the one he’s been pushing himself on since joining the team. Ihrke said after the meet, he’s glad to see he’s still dropping time.

“I started the season off slowly. I had tendonitis in both my shoulders,” Ihrke said. “I didn't have huge expectations coming into this year, but coming out of this, being able to get to state is super exciting. I got a (time of) 56, which was the time I was at at my peak without tapering last year. Doing that midseason felt really good.”

The Red Wing sophomore said he’s happy to be making his second appearance at state. He also already has some ideas of what he’d like to accomplish in the future.

“I think next year I want to try and not taper until state,” he said.

Ihrke swam the 50 freestyle in 22.83 and in seventh place overall. It was a change made during the season that Ihrke would focus on the 500 freestyle instead of the 200 IM. The switch in events nearly paid off as he almost qualified for state in a second event as he was .16 seconds away from the automatic state standard time at 22.67.

Ihrke expressed his satisfaction with the way the team rallied to work toward making as many finals races as they could in the section meet.

Zach Shefveland, Gavin Magill, Nick Babcock and Lucas Anderson swam in the 200 medley relay consolation race, finishing ninth overall with a time of 2:01.11. Ezra Dennis swam third in the consolation race and took 11th overall in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.88. Patrick Hines, Dennis, Eli Flattum and Ihrke took eighth place in the 400 freestyle relay at 3:38.84.

“I'm super proud of our team. We really pulled through in plenty of our events,” Ihrke said. “We obviously are not the biggest team here but we showed what we are worth.”

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