Class AA swimming and diving: JM's Becker places fifth in first trip to state

John Becker didn't have time to get nervous before arguably the most high-pressure race he's ever competed in.

The Rochester John Marshall freshman was busy attempting to get a knot out of the gym shorts.

He solved the knot, then battled back from a slow start to earn fifth place in the 200-yard IM at the Class AA boys state swimming and diving meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center on Saturday.

"It's really nice to make the top eight; I was just hoping to get into the top 16," Becker said. "I couldn't imagine this at the beginning of the year. I didn't think I'd get fifth at state."

Becker finished in 1:55.28, seven-tenths of a second behind fourth-place finisher Matt Hedman, a junior from Anoka. Eden Prairie sophomore Griffin Back won the event in 1:52.63. Becker's time in the final was just more than one-tenth of a second slower than his preliminary time, but he was pleased with his race.


"I was hoping to go a little faster, but it was pretty much the same as (Friday's preliminaries)," he said.

Becker, in his first trip to a state meet, was one of just two freshmen to make the top 16 in the 200 IM. He finished two spots ahead of the other ninth-grader to reach the finals, Max Lezer of St. Michael-Albertville.

"I'm excited for the upcoming years," he said. "Hopefully I can do as well as this year, maybe even work hard and win a championship. That would be a dream."

Hayward makes top 4 in 500

Sam Hayward seems to become more comfortable the longer he's in the water.

The Rochester Century sophomore has not only become one of the best long-distance swimmers in southeastern Minnesota, he's one of the best in the state.

Hayward cut a second-and-a-half off his time from Friday's preliminaries to finish fourth in the 500-yard freestyle on Saturday. It was the best finish by a Rochester swimmer at this year's state meet.

"Over the past couple of years I've been training more for the distance races," Hayward said. "I like being able to get into a groove and see what I can do against the other (top) guys."


Hayward was third in Friday's prelims, one spot ahead of Irondale's Jacob Wielinski, who shaved six seconds off his prelim time to leapfrog Hayward and finish second. Hayward was pleased with his time of 4:39.54, which was eight seconds better than his time at the Section 1AA meet.

"Last year was my first time swimming here," said Hayward, who was an alternate in 2012, but did not compete at state. "The first time you qualify and swim here, it's so nerve-racking, but once you've been here and know what to expect, you can relax and swim."

Two other Rochester swimmers competed in state finals.

Century's Alex Kofler placed sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke :58.64. Kofler was the section champion in the event and was sixth after the prelims on Friday. He also placed sixth in the state in the same event last season.

JM junior Michael Streyle finished eighth in the 100 backstroke (:53.11).

NOTES: Rochester Century's 200 medley relay team was disqualified. ... Century's Kofler placed 10th in the 50 freestyle, after finishing 14th in the prelims. His time of 21.70 seconds would've been good for sixth place had he been in the championship finals.


(Rochester finishers)


200 freestyle— 15. Sam Hayward (Cent) 1:46.77. 200 IM— 5. John Becker (JM) 1:55.28. 50 freestyle— 10. Alex Kofler (Cent) :21.70. 100 butterfly— 14. Will Cima (Cent) :53.21. 100 freestyle— 14. Jack Ommen (Cent) :48.37. 500 freestyle— 4. Sam Hayward (Cent) 4:39.54; 12. Jason Tri (Cent) 4:46.10. 100 backstroke— 8. Michael Streyle (JM) :53.11. 100 breaststroke— 6. Alex Kofler (Cent) :58.64; 12. John Becker (JM) 1:00.10. 400 freestyle relay— 16. Century (Cima, Hayward, Tri, VanDeVoorde) 3:19.07.

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