Swimmers finish fourth at sections, qualify five for state

Sophomore Corey Bahr, junior Bryan Fleming and seniors Joel Stomberg and Joe Goossens pose following a state-qualifying section appearance where the team took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Senior Evan Woehl also qualified in the 100-yard breaststroke as the lone individual state swimmer for Forest Lake. Photo by Jeff Moris


Five Rangers will compete in the state swimming and diving meet after qualifying at the Section 7AA meet in Coon Rapids over the weekend. The Forest Lake squad ended its season in fourth place, just 23.5 points out of second place.

The 200-freestyle relay team of sophomore Corey Bahr, junior Bryan Fleming and senior co-captains Joel Stomberg and Joe Goossens qualified for state after outswimming Anoka and Blaine to earn the win and 40 points toward the team total.

The relay team ended in 1:31.99, good for sixth fastest in school history. Head coach Barbara Vailodash said the group is aiming to break the school record of 1:30.67 set in 2006 by John Goossens, Elijah Miller, Sam Gort and Mark Sandager. The freestylers have already beaten last year’s top time of 1:33.10.

“They will need to drop another two seconds between the four of them to qualify for the finals on Saturday night,” Vailodash said. “It has happened in the past, so I will only say I can believe it will repeat itself.”

Senior Evan Woehl is the lone individual to reach state in the 100-yard breaststroke with a second-place finish and personal-best time of 1:02.94. The senior was barely out-touched for first by less than a tenth of a second.

The co-captain also improved on last year’s finish of fourth in sections with a time of 1:03.83, and now sits in seventh in school history for the event.

Fleming just missed a state bid by taking third in the 50-yard freestyle after losing by less than tenth of a second to Andover’s sprinter. The junior earned a personal best of 22.91 in the finals and ends his individual season in seventh place in school history.

Another near miss came from the same relay team of Bahr, Fleming, Goossens and Stomberg in the 400-yard freestyle. They took third in 3:22.33, just over a second behind an Andover squad. The finals time earned the group third-best time in Forest Lake history.

The final relay team of sophomores Mitchell Clayton and Cameron Parrucci, Woehl and junior Stefan Albright took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:47.11.

Rangers riddled the top 10 in the 200-yard freestyle, with Stomberg and Goossens taking fourth and sixth, respectively. Stomberg’s preliminary time of 1:46.98 was a personal best and puts him at second in school history. Goossens earned ninth in Ranger history with his prelim time of 1:53.98.

Junior Andrew Bowes took ninth place in the event in 1:56.51 while seventh-grader Ben Chatwin earned 10th with a personal-best time of 1:57.47.

Bahr took ninth in the 200-yard individual medley with a personal best 2:10.03, good for ninth in school history.

Bahr (57:05), Fleming (57:44) and Albright (57:51) took sixth, seventh and eighth in the 100-yard butterfly. Bahr recorded a personal best in the final while Fleming improved his best in the preliminaries with a time of 56:82. All three earned spots in Ranger history’s top 10 in the fly.

Goossens took sixth in the 100-yard free with a finals time of 51.35 while Stomberg recorded a fourth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a personal best of 4:47.73, good for third in school history.

Chatwin and Bowes took seventh and ninth, respectively, in the distance event with Chatwin earning a personal best in the preliminaries in 5:18.12.

Sophomores Michael Palo and Tim Brennhofer joined Woehl in the top 10 in the 100-yard breaststroke. Palo took seventh with a personal best in the preliminaries with a time of 1:05.82 while Brennhofer recorded 10th and a personal best finals time of 1:07.26.

Vailodash hopes to improve on the fourth-place finish by recruiting divers for next season. The addition could have improved the position of Forest Lake into second place at sections this season if two divers had placed in the top eight or three divers in the top 16 at sections. The head coach said she has a couple of prospects in the making.

“This could help our overall program in many ways including the team score,” Vailodash said. “With that said, the swimmers did a fabulous job. I know next season is going to be as great as this year, since the team realizes how fast our section has become and the need to train off season is a given if you want to be on the section team.”

The Rangers finished their season at 5-4 in the Suburban East Conference. Highlights included:  first place at the Duluth Invite, second at True Team Sections and fourth in the section. Forest Lake also earned the title of Section 7AA Academic Champions with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.50. They also earned six all-conference and nine all-conference honorable mention honors.

Vailodash attributes this year’s success to the senior leadership of captains Woehl, Stomberg and Goossens.

“This year was a stellar year for the whole team,” Vailodash said. “The team was very fortunate to have the great senior leaders of this year. They will leave a great sense of accomplishment and direction with the team which will benefit the program for many years to come.”

Eight more Rangers also contributed to the team total with top-16 finishes.
50-yard freestyle:
– 13th place: Parrucci in 24.35 (personal best in preliminaries in 24.25)
– 16th place: ninth grader Andrew Kelsey in 24.83 (personal best in preliminaries in 24.58)
100-yard freestyle:
– 15th place: Parrucci in 54.57 (personal best in preliminaries in 53.24)
100-yard backstroke:
– sophomore Mitchell Clayton in 1:02.68 (personal best)
200-yard individual medley:
– 13th place: ninth-grader Brad Youngquist in 2:15.88 (personal best)
– 14th place: Palo in 2:16.18 (personal best in preliminaries with 2:15.52)
– 15th place: senior Casey Jepsen in 2:16.46 (personal best)
500-yard freestyle:
– 13th place: Adam Krummi in 5:26.63

All-Conference: Stomberg, Goossens, Bahr, Fleming, Woehl and Albright.
Honorable Mention: Parrucci, Bowes, Brennhofer, Kelsey, Palo, junior Dominick Thompson, sophomore Tommy Brockman, Clayton and Chatwin.