Boys swimming and diving: Area athletes aim for Day 2 at state

Feb. 28—MINNEAPOLIS — After Kade Bockelman finished 15th in the Class A boys' state swimming and diving meet as a sophomore, Willmar head coach Carl Shuldes has high hopes for Bockelman, who returns to state beginning noon Thursday at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.

"Now, two years later, he doesn't have a weak dive in his arsenal," Shuldes said. "It's fun knowing that if he just dives to his capability, he shouldn't have to worry about cuts at all.

"He's excited to be down there. He really wants to do well and finish his diving career on a positive note."

With Bockelman back at state with one last chance to reach the podium, Shuldes believes the senior has made the strides necessary to reach the podium.

"He'd love to get on the podium and I think that's very realistic for him — to get top-eight," Shuldes said. "If he dives well, I think you could be looking at a top-five finish for Kale."

Bockelman totaled 306.20 points at the 2021 Class A state meet. At Saturday's Section 3A championships, he secured a second-place finish with a 394.70.

"He's really been without a coach for the last three or four years, so much of what he is doing is really kind of self-taught," Shuldes said. "That just makes it that much more impressive.

"The dive coaches — they're just tight and they're willing to help out — so when we travel to places or other teams come here, the opposing dive coaches are helping him out. It's really cool to see."

One area relay team and two area individuals join Bockelman at state. They also look to advance to day two in hopes of bringing home hardware.

Montevideo's Mickey Hess, Jaxon Wagner, Evan Smith and Gavin Arends will compete in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

The Thunder Hawks' Austin Dunn, one of Montevideo's three captains, competes in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle.

"It's exciting and fun for us to get to the state meet," Montevideo head coach Nick Patton said. "These guys have worked really hard."

Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield's Logan Christopherson competes in the 100 breaststroke.

"It's extremely exciting — I think for all of us and for him," Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield head coach Tim Hroma said. "Our goal is to come away with a medal, whether it be eighth place or first place.

"We know we got to go at least a 59 to snag one of those top-eight slots to get into the finals. That's what we're excited about. We think we can pull it off."

The Class A swimming preliminaries take place at noon Friday. The Class A finals take place noon Saturday.