Boys' Swimming Building its Own Dynasty at St. Michael-Albertville
Despite its status as a "wrestling" school for winter sports, or haven for basketball, the water is fine for the boys' swim team, which has raked in the hardware this season.
A sports blogger last season posted a note about St. Michael-Albertville sports, stating it wasn't February until "St. Michael makes its appearance on the mats at Xcel."
And while STMA is on the verge of again dominating the wrestling landscape, there's something building on the east side of the community, in the swimming pool.
The St. Michael-Albertville boys' swim team has quietly become a juggernaut in the Mississippi 8 Conference, picking up its second straight championship this season on the heels of an undefeated dual season.
In the meantime, the team has performed capably with the "big dogs," knocking off Wayzata in two-team meet last month and competing hard with Maple Grove at the Section True Team meet, where the Knights were pretty much outmanned.
"They're incredibly deep," head coach Tom Guillou said of the Crimson, who will be the favorites again at the MSHSL Section Meet this weekend in St. Cloud. "They're strong, and they have a lot of swimmers that can get points."
Still, the Knights, in their fourth season under Guillou and their third in Class AA, are sedded second in Section 8, their highest ever spot entering the big meet.
"It's a credit to the seven seniors we have on this team, and the work that they've put in week in and week out. They feel like they can get in and compete with anyone. And they have fun here. We've created an atmosphere where the kids can work hard, compete and still have fun doing it."
That's essential, Guillou said, to building a program in the shadows of one of the most dominant teams in any sport in this state.
"We've had kids who just want to try it, and they get in and swim the 100 free in two minutes," he said. "By the end, they've stuck with it and they're swimming it in 1 minute, 12 seconds, because they've put in the work. That's awesome."
Prelims for the Section 8AA meet begin at St. Cloud Tech Friday at 4 p.m., with finals on Saturday. Diving prelims are Saturday at noon.
It's the last hurrah, before state, for those aforementioned seven seniors: Noah Dalluge, Sam Konsor, Cam Johnson, Max Rooney, Leo Hora, Eli Guillou and Brandon Richardson. All but one-Hora, an exchange student-has been with coach Guillou since his first practice.
"They've been a great core for us. And thanks to them we have swimmers next year who are ready, eager even, to step in and take their place. That's a credit to what they've done."