Dan Eckberg considers himself extremely fortunate.
The St. Cloud Tech boys swimming and diving coach is doing something he loves. And the place he enjoys most, Tech’s pool, has received a massive facelift.
It comes at just the right time. Tech is host to the Section 8-2A meet Friday.
“We’re real excited to show off the pool,” Eckberg said. “I’m a Tech graduate and as an alum I’m real happy it does look good …
“I’m extremely lucky. I have great parents and great kids and they do a great job of supporting the program.”
A new scoreboard was installed last week, as well as a new paint job. The scoreboard cost $28,000 and the upgrade total with installation was $35,000.
Most of the money was raised by parents, Eckberg said. He lauded the contributions of Tech parent Bob Schwartz for doing the heavy lifting on the funding.
The upgrades are part of some $60,000 that have been pumped into the program since Eckberg took over as head coach four years ago.
The new scoreboard was long overdue, he said.
“It was on its absolute last legs; it was sad,” He said. “This one is spectacular.”
There is a full video board capable of playing movies, though it not high definition.
“We’re not Cowboys Stadium or anything,” Eckberg said.
It’ll come in handy for fundraisers down the line, like perhaps a movie night at the pool. In the meantime, it’ll get a heavy workout this weekend.
The Section 8-2A boys swimming and diving championships begin with preliminaries at 5 p.m. Friday. The meet continues at noon Saturday, with the swimming and diving finals set for about 4 p.m.
At stake are berths in the state meet, which is Feb. 28 to March 2 at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center in Minneapolis.
Eight teams compete. Eckberg said the St. Michael-Albertville and Maple Grove seem to be the strongest squads.
Brainerd and Tech should be in the top four and Buffalo and Elk River are teams to watch.
Tech qualified its 200-yard medley relay and 200 freestyle teams for state competition last year. Three-fourths of the medley relay team are back: Reed Allex (backstroke), Theo Pillsburg (breaststroke) and Ashton Schulte (butterfly). Clayton Goenner, who swam in the 200 freestyle relay last year, is doing the freestyle in the medley this season.
Another athlete to watch is senior diver Jesse LaVoi.
Eckberg said he’s unsure of a lineup for the rest of his relays.
“I truly have no clue on what we’re going to do until we have prelims,” he said.
Tech will use the scoreboard in practice Wednesday to test it out before the section meet.
“We’re very fortunate,” Eckberg said. “We host a sectional, in either boys or girls, every year. We were looking at things we were trying to do and what would help.”
He’s confident the rest of the meet will go without a hitch.
“We have the best scoring table in the state,” said Eckberg, who may be a tad biased. “I’ll argue with anyone in the state about that.”
It doesn’t happen every day, though it is happening more often as teams play more games.
Sauk Centre is about to have its third basketball player reach the 1,000-point mark this season.
In girls basketball, senior Macy Weller reached the milestone earlier this year.
Senior post Nick Adams did it for the boys last week and senior guard Patrick Knoblauch is closing in on the mark, needing 44 points heading into a four-game week.
The Mainstreeters (9-1, 15-4) have a huge home West Central Conference game at 7:30 tonight against Melrose (11-0, 22-1).
The Dutchmen are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A.
“We’re playing it like we have nothing to lose,” Sauk Centre head coach Mike Ellens said.
Ellens said it’s an achievement to have two players score 1,000 in one season and three at the school.
“I think there are only three males in our record books to have done it,” he said. “And to have two this year is a nice deal.”
Knoblauch hopes to join Aaron Wills, Jesse Ellens and Brent Egan in the Mainstreeters’ 1,000-point club.
After tonight, Sauk Centre plays Thursday at Wadena-Deer Creek, plays BOLD at home Friday and then has a 2:30 p.m. Saturday game at Benson.
On a roll
Albany brings an 11-game winning streak into its home game tonight with Foley in Granite Ridge Conference girls basketball.
The Huskies close out the regular season with three straight home conference games. After playing Foley tonight, they face Milaca on Thursday and Becker on Friday before gearing up for the North Subsection 6-2A playoffs.
Albany head coach Josh Dorn said the secret to the 20-3 Huskies’ success has been its depth. Albany goes nine players deep and everyone is capable of scoring.
The starting lineup includes junior guards Vanessa Spohn and Amazih Eickhoff, senior forward Rachel Mohs, junior forward Kayla Reber and senior center Emily Pratt. Off the bench are sophomores Emily Schoenberg and Elizabeth DeGeest, ninth-grader Sidney Schiffler and eighth-grader Erin Navratil.
Foley’s Larry Herm has received a prestigious state honor. Herm, Foley’s head football coach and an assistant in the wrestling program, was named the Minnesota National Strength and Conditioning Association’s professional of the year.
The NSCA is a non-profit worldwide authority for improved physical performance.
“Larry is quickly becoming a sought-after resource and speaker for all sorts of clinics as well as to our state advisory board,” Minnesota NSCA state director Ryan Johnson said in a statement. “He is an excellent public speaker and has a knack for sharing his information in a way that other coaches can take home what they learned from him on Saturday and apply to their athletes on Monday.”