The Elks ended the unconventional 2020-21 regular season with a hard-fought loss on senior night.
Elk River (8-2, 8-2) lost 99-85 to Maple Grove (10-0, 10-0) on Tuesday, March 2, at VandenBerge Middle School. Maple Grove clinched its second-consecutive Northwest Suburban Conference title on Tuesday. Elk River finished third in the NWSC behind second-place Coon Rapids (9-1, 9-1).
Head coach Denise Green said the Elks swam well against the Crimson.
“We wanted to finalize some relays and give the guys a chance to practice their probable section events one more time,” Green said. “We wanted to have a chance to recognize [the seniors] after the meet. They all swam well last night.”
Elk River won four of 12 events on Tuesday night. The Elks’ first event win came when senior Sam Hlavachek finished first in the 1-meter diving competition with a score of 304.15. Senior Preston Schmeidel finished first in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 53.13 seconds. Senior Jack West placed first in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing in 5:14.59. Elk River’s A relay team of West and seniors Colin Bedbury, Isaac Kapsner and Arteom Katkov finished first in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3:33.62. The Elks also had five second-place finishes and nine third-place finishes.
About 30 minutes after the meet, the Elks held their annual senior recognition ceremony. Green recognized the seniors and their families with a short speech describing the impact they have had on the program. There are 11 seniors on Elk River’s 2020-21 roster: Bedbury, Hlavachek, Kapsner, Katkov, Schmeidel, West, Gavin Anderson, Cole Diekow, Nathan Holm, Lucas Lodermeier and Daniel Reed. This season’s lineup was the most senior-heavy roster Green has had in 37 seasons as head coach. Each senior had a poster with childhood photos on the wall facing the west side of the pool. The 11 seniors gathered for a photo on the diving board following Green’s remarks.
Green said all but one of the seniors have been on the team for 4-6 years together.
“It’s always fun to see them grow and mature,” she said. “This has been a fantastic group of leaders. All 11 of them have taken a leadership role in this COVID[-19] season trying to make the best of things. They’ve been awesome leaders helping out with the younger swimmers and setting a great [example] of how to handle themselves in and out of the pool. They're a great group of young men.
“Some of them I’ve known since they [were] born. Some of them had brothers on the team, so I’ve known them for more than the six years. It’s always this way with our seniors. We’ve become close and it’s a close-knit class of boys, too because they’ve come through this team together for six years.”
Elk River will travel to St. Cloud to compete in the Section 8-2A championships on Friday, March 12, and Saturday, March 13. The 1-meter diving competition will be held on Friday, March 12, at 2 p.m. at Tech High School. The swimming competition will be divided into two sessions with four teams swimming in the morning and four in the evening. The Elks will swim in the 5 p.m. session.
Green said her goals for the Section championships next week are to advance as many swimmers and divers to the state tournament later in March as possible.
“We will not know that until our meet is over on Saturday once they merge the two section [scores] together,” Green said.