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Boys Swimming: Meacham second in butterfly, Wingers 13th at state meet

Red Wing's William Meacham races down the lane for the first lap of the 100-yard butterfly Saturday at the Class 1A state swimming championship meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Meacham placed second in 50.51 seconds. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 4
Red Wing's Ben Schaffer broke a school record with a time of 59.87 seconds in the 100 breaststroke at Saturday's Class 1A state swimming championship meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Schaffer finished in seventh place. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 4
Red Wing's Jayden Jech closes out the 200 medley relay with the freestyle during Saturday's Class 1A state swimming championship meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Jech hit the wall for a final time of 1:39.51. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)3 / 4
Red Wing's Ian Johnson begins the 200 medley relay with the backstroke during the Class 1A state swimming championship meet Saturdeay at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)4 / 4

MINNEAPOLIS – In conference, in sections and at state, William Meacham has an eye on Paul Sadergaski.

Sadergaski, a senior at Faribault, has been the gold standard this year in the 100-yard butterfly in Class 1A as the 2015 champion. Meacham was never far behind this winter, and every competition against Sadergaski was a chance to get better.

“Without someone next to me, it's hard to keep my pace,” Meacham said. “You got to have the shark behind you when you're swimming. That's what mine is: Trying to keep up with him.”

Sitting at the No. 2 seed after Friday's prelims by .05 seconds, Meacham had one last try to take out the defending state champion at Saturday's 1A state swimming championship meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

Meacham put forth a strong time of 50.51 seconds, which put him second behind Sadergaski's first-place All-American consideration time of 49.45.

“I don't think it was my best time but it was a pretty darn good time,” said Meacham, who also took 11th in the 200 individual medley in 1:59.27. “That was my second time making it in the 50s, so I was pretty happy. … I should have went a little faster today because of Paul but I thought he could go 48 and I could go 49, maybe.”

Red Wing head swim coach Kevin O'Brien added, “Willie just didn't quite have the tempo to keep up with Paul. For Willie to see that and compete against that will only help him in the future.”

Next year, Meacham, a junior, will be the shark in the 100 butterfly as Sadergaski graduates.

“Next year, I'm pretty darn sure I can get 49 or 48. Forty-eight would be a really good goal for me,” Meacham said. “I dropped two-and-a-half (seconds) this year, so it went pretty good.”

A Wingers swimmer who made the most of his last meet as a high-schooler was Ben Scaffer in the 100 breaststroke. Schaffer had qualified for two straight years in the breaststroke but never made it to the championship finals. In his final go-around, Schaffer got seeded seventh and kept that place in the finals Saturday. And, Schaffer became the first person in school history to finish under a minute in the breaststroke in 59.87.

“Since my seventh-grade year, every day at practice, every meet I've ever had, I've looked up at that record board and I saw one-double-zero under breaststroke. And since seventh grade, I've said I was going to be the first one to go under a minute. I'm going to get 59,” Schaffer said. “All those hours in the pool, it paid off and I pulled it off. I couldn't be any happier.”

Alexandria's Nic Chromey was the state champion in the breaststroke with an All-American consideration time of 57.34.

Schaffer always has a strong start in the event, but through an emphasis on pulling out of the water quicker and keeping his heels up on the kick, Schaffer was able to piece together his new school-record time.

“Talk about a kid that has been working hard from the get-go. To have that kind of goal and do everything he needed to to get there along the way, it was great to see him get that,” O'Brien said.

Meacham and Schaffer, along with sophomores Ian Johnson and Jayden Jech were able to start the day with a fifth-place finish in the 200 medley relay. Sitting as the seventh seed coming in, seeing the five emerge on the Aquatic Center's screen came out as a pleasant surprise.

“I was really thinking seventh would be great, but fifth is a really nice finish,” said Johnson, who opened the swim with a time of 27.30 in the backstroke. “It was a really great way to end the season. We've all been working as hard as we can to make it through and I think we did well.”

Schaffer came up after Johnson with a time of 27.34 in the breaststroke, followed by strong finishes by Meacham in the butterfly (22.27) and Jech in the freestyle (22.60). Orono won the 200 medley relay with a new Class 1A record time of 1:34.09.

“We all went into it pumped up and ready to go and we knew we were going to do good,” Jech said. “It turned out better than I thought it was going to. … It was all touch-touch-touch (at the end), but we all swam really well.”

By the time Saturday's finals wrapped up, Red Wing finished 13th as a team with a score of 63. Winning the state team title was Breck/Blake with 349.5.

“To take 13th with four swims, it was a great meet for all the guys,” O'Brien said. “For the relay to go up two spots, for Willie to state where he was and for Ben to hold his spot, it was a great meet. Great way to end the year.”