Heading into Tuesday’s Big Nine Conference dual meet between the Mankato West and East/Loyola swim teams, Scarlets’ coach Andy Viker knew he had to keep the score close.

With three events left, West trailed 72-68 and that proved to be close enough. The Scarlets outscored East/Loyola 23-9 in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-breaststroke and went on to a 95-91 victory at the East pool.

“We knew our strengths were in the backstroke and breaststroke,” Viker said. “East has some pretty fast sprinters so we wanted to try to score some points in those two events.

“The two Wempens (Ross and Randall) swam lifetime bests in the backstroke. Brady (Freiderich) and (Kelly) Davis didn’t get lifetime bests, but they swam very well in the breast and that was enough for us.”

The West victory snapped a three-year winning streak by the Cougars in the crosstown rivalry. East/Loyola could have still tied the meet by going 1-2-5 in the final 400-freestyle relay, but West’s team of the two Wempens, Kevin Behr and Chris Kolb came in three seconds ahead of the Cougars’ second team to pull out the victory.

Individual winners for West included Ross Wempen in the 200-individual medley (2:10.39) and 100-backstroke (57.22), Kolb in the 50-freestyle (24.79), Randall Wempen in the 100-freestyle (53.88) and Luke Weber in the 1-meter dive (297.95 points). Weber fell just short of his goal of 300 points and came within two points of his own school record.

“I started kind of slow this year, but the last two or three weeks I’ve been picking it up,” Weber said. “I was sick with the flu last week and only practiced one day, but I made it back for the true team section meet and that went OK.

“The East-West meet has always been competitive since I’ve been here. It’s always a lot of fun. We had a good crowd today — I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people watching (in this facility).”

West also had a first in the 200-medley relay where Randall Wempen, Freiderich, Ross Wempen and John Mejia clocked a 1:49.10.

East/Loyola was led by winners Mike Neufeld in the 200-freestyle (1:56.65) and 500-freestyle (5:23.09) and Andrew Hall in the 100-freestyle (59.46). Alex Schmidt, Andrew Hull, Hall and Neufeld won the 200-free relay in 1:36.66, and Schmidt, Max Rykhus, Hall and Neufeld won the 400-free relay in 3:35.96.

“We thought those last two relays would play a big role, and they did,” East/Loyola’s Schmidt said. “We just came up a little short.

“But we swam really well. I think we cut three seconds off our season’s best time in the 400, and we cut one second off our best time in the 200. That should give us a lot of confidence the rest of the way.”

The win improves West to 4-1 while East/Loyola drops to 2-2-1.

Both teams compete Saturday in the Class A True Team Meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

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