Swimming: Diver aiming high heads Elks’ state delegation

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Andrew Bronstheyn is making his third state trip in diving, and this time he’s quite definite about his goal.

“This year, I’m going for first,” said the Elk River junior, who placed fifth in Class AA last year and 20th as a freshman, and earned another trip by winning Section 8AA on Saturday.

Is that a reachable goal, he was asked?

Headed for state Thursday through Saturday are diver Andrew Bronshteyn (on the board) and swimmers (from left) Nick Kopp, Owen Musgjerd, Spencer Hlavachek and Christopher Thorndahl. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Headed for state Thursday through Saturday are diver Andrew Bronshteyn (on the board) and swimmers (from left) Nick Kopp, Owen Musgjerd, Spencer Hlavachek and Christopher Thorndahl. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“Yes,” sad the 5-foot-5, 120-pound athlete, hoping to join Laura Ryan and Dwight Baker as Elk divers who’ve won state.

“We just hope he’ll be in top five. That would be fantastic, and anything from there would be even better,” said Elk diving coach Bret Beecher.

Bronshteyn repeated as section champion, scoring 418.55, comfortably ahead of Brainerd’s Seth Murray (398.05). His 11 dives included an inward one-and-a-half and a reverse that scored particularly well.

He also unveiled a new reverse two-and-a-half, that could help his chances at state.

“That will be one of the highest-difficulty dives at state,” said Beecher, “and he did well with it.”

The Elks state delegation otherwise is dominated by sophomore Spencer Hlavachek, who’ll swim in two individual sprints and a relay.

State Class AA at the University of Minnesota will be held Thursday (diving prelims), Friday (swimming prelims) and Saturday (all finals), beginning 6 p.m.

Hlavachek won the 50 freestyle in 22.55 seconds, edging Brainerd’s David Supinski (22.58), then placed second behind Supinski (48.52) in the 100 freestyle with 49.03.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Hlavachek, Owen Musgjerd, Christopher Thorndahl and Nick Kopp placed fourth but beat the state qualifying standard. In fact, their 1:29.86 broke an Elk record that has stood since 1993, the oldest on the board.

“We think we can get our times a lot better at state, all of us,” said Hlavachek, who had personal-bests in both sprints as well.

Hlavachek said the rivalry with Supinski was brand-new.

“I competed in distance events at sections the last couple years,” said Hlavachek, meaning regular and true-team sections. “I don’t think he expected to see me, and I didn’t expect to see him, either. In (true-team) we were not in the same events.”

Coach Denise Green called the 200 freestyle quartet “my tall-boy relay,” noting that they’re all around 6-foot-2. She couldn’t recall ever having such a tall foursome.

Height is an advantage in swimming but she didn’t pick the team according to height.

“It just worked out that way this year,” said Green.

The visiting reporter Monday joked that maybe basketball coach Randy Klasen should be advised about the four lanky underclassmen athletes. Green laughed.

“Spencer, show him your vertical,” the coach said, and Hlavachek amiably complied with a leap of about 10 inches. Eidem showed a bruise on Kopp’s leg he sustained “just from getting out of the pool.”

Green concluded, affectionately, “These guys can’t shoot or dribble. But like I’ve said before, in the water they are magic.”

The Elks’ three swimming entrants are seeded outside the top 16 so all will likely have to improve their times to qualify for the second day.

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