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Fifth-place finish at Apple Valley Invitational shows swim team's weaknesses

It was a late addition to the schedule for the Stillwater boys swimming team and, in hindsight, the Ponies probably wish it wasn't on their record.

Stillwater participated in the Apple Valley Invitational on Dec. 30 and came home in fifth place after scoring 1,219.5 points. Lakeville won the event scoring 1,801 points.

"The place was okay," Ponies coach Brian Luke said. "They did pretty good. It was looking like we were going to be fourth but we slipped to fifth at the end. We probably could have done better. Three through five were pretty close. I think some of the times could have been better."

Some of the better performances included a second-place finish by Stillwater's top 200-yard medley relay team.

Greg Wise and Dave Pearson, mainly swimming the same events, continued their strong efforts this season.

Wise was fifth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 500 freestyle.

Pearson, meanwhile, was seventh in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 500 freestyle.

Brandon Adair was third in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 100 butterfly and the Ponies also finished third in the 200 freestyle relay.

While Luke would have rather seen a better performance from his squad, he thought it could serve as an early season wake-up call.

"It doesn't hurt to have a meet like this," Luke said. "There were some quality teams there. I am sure we will figure it out. Maybe it helps. Maybe they needed something to shake their tree, and my tree too. I don't know.

"They need to just keep working and realize that the work they put into it, is the results they are going to get out of it. We need to get everyone on the same page, especially with the True Team coming up here."

The Ponies have three key meets during January, beginning with a dual meet at Woodbury, generally considered the main threat to the Ponies conference hopes, on Jan. 20.

The True Team section meet follows on Jan. 22 with the True Team state meet the following weekend.

"They have two-and-a-half to three weeks to get ready and step up for the really good teams," Luke said. "You want to win them all, and the conference meets are important, but we want to get ready for the top teams in the conference and the True Team meets."

Next up for Stillwater is a dual meet at Hastings on Jan. 6 and the Bengal Invitational at Northdale this weekend.

"This weekend will be another test," Luke said. "We have won it the past couple years. I might change the lineup a little bit. We have gotten sloppy in a few events and we'll let them go get sloppy on some other events. Maybe it will bring back their focus."