Prep boys swimming: Depth has Duluth in section contention

Duluth swimmers Finn Braaten (clockwise from upper left) Grant Wodny, Joe Rudd, Luke Sailstad and Julien Yung could lead the Duluth Swim team to the state tournament. (Clint Austin /
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Joe Rudd recently raced against teammate Grant Wodny in the 200-yard individual medley, one of Rudd’s best events.

Wodny, a freshman on the Duluth boys swim team, isn’t going to compete in the IM at this week’s Section 7AA meet as it isn’t one of his favorite events. Yet the lanky ninth-grader beat the junior Rudd by four-tenths of a second and owns the Northland’s top time in the event.

That should come as no surprise as Wodny has the area’s best time in five individual events heading into the 7AA meet in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

“Grant’s going crazy (in the pool),” Rudd said. “I don’t understand him but I’m very proud of him. He’s a really good swimmer.”

Wodny will swim in the 200 and 500 freestyles — swimmers are limited to two individual events — as well as a pair of relays as seventh-ranked Duluth seeks its first section title since winning its only one in 1993.


“I’ve always been a bit better in the distance events,” said the homeschooled Wodny, who owns the section’s top times in both events. “I feel like I probably could go to state in a few more events, especially the 100 fly, but it’s just too close (in the schedule) to the 500.”

Senior Julien Yung also will swim the distance freestyles for the East-Denfeld combination team, which is benefitting from its deepest roster in years.

“They push each other in meets and also in practice,” Duluth coach Cliff Knettel said. “Those two, Grant and Julien, are pushing each other every day in practice to be stronger and faster. That really does pay off.”

The top two finishers in each event qualify for the state meet, though others can advance via time.

“Hopefully we send as many people as we can in the 200 to state — I think some people can (qualify by beating the state standard),” said Yung, who also will swim the backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay and on the 400 freestyle relay. “I’d say we are the deepest team in the section, by far. And it just shows that our depth helps in the long run against these bigger teams that have a couple stronger swimmers than us.”

It’s that depth that has Knettel confident in his team’s chances.

“We have a solid team and a lot of depth, basically in every event,” he said. “We should have four swimmers in every event (at sections) and I expect we will have three or four in the finals of every event. We are shooting to win our section.”

Rudd, who has the best 100 breaststroke time in the Northland and will compete in the 200 IM, the medley relay and one of the freestyle relays at sections, isn’t upset about being bested by Wodny.


To him, it’s symptomatic of the Duluth team’s greatest attribute.

“Our team has massive depth,” he said.

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