Hulbert sets record at pool named after family at East Region meet
Right before his race, Timothy Hulbert looks up. He sees his brothers raising their arms in support. Hulbert was trying to break a school record set by his brother in a pool named after his family.
Hulbert didn't quite break a school record, but he did set a new pool record. Hulbert, a West Fargo swimmer who's family is the inspiration for the name of the pool, finished the 100-yard breaststroke in a new pool record of 1 minute, 0.84 seconds at the East Region boys swimming and diving meet on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Hulbert Aquatic Center.
"That felt good," said Hulbert, who was named to the all-East Region team. "That was a good motivation. It's quite a blessing to have this facility. It's good for West Fargo and really good for our family."
Also in his home pool, West Fargo Sheyenne's Zack Bueling, who was named the East Region senior athlete of the year, beat his own pool record in the 100 backstroke in 55.5 seconds to take first place in the event. Bueling's teammate Jacob Smith, also an all-East Region team member, won the 200 individual medley in 2:05.17 to help the Mustangs take third as a team with 334.5 points. West Fargo was fifth with 276.5 points.
Hulbert said he was happy with how things went for he and the team. Hulbert helped the Packers 200 medley relay team with Tyler Binstock, Alex Walker and Kasey Chase take third in 1:44.95. Walker, who also made the all-East Region team, was third in the 200 individual medley in 2:08.05 while Hulbert was fourth in 2:09.38. Walker was also fourth in the 100 butterfly in 57.62 seconds. Binstock was sixth in the 100 backstroke in 1:00.88 for the Packers while Mason Emerson was sixth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.77.
Hulbert's family has been swimming for North Dakota high schools for three generations, which he said is the longest swimming lineage in the state's history. Hulbert said there's not expectations on him to swim at a high level from his family, but he did anyway. Hulbert said he was just .24 seconds away from breaking the school record set by his brother, Stephen.
Hulbert said he wasn't disappointed to be that close to a school record, but he believes he can get it at the North Dakota state meet starting Friday, March 2, which will also be at the Hulbert Aquatic Center.
"Sometimes, you get a little nervous," Hulbert said. "But it is fun to have a little bit of a competition or rivalry between the family. There always is."
Smith said he was proud of the Mustangs but felt they still have improvements to make going into next week's state meet. Smith said not having to get on a bus for the conference and state meets is a plus.
Sheyenne's 200 medley relay team with Bueling, Ben Vetter, Braden Webb and Jordan Ustanko was runner-up in 1:43.18. Sheyenne's 400 freestyle relay team of Smith, Bueling, Vetter and Webb was also runner-up in 3:29.37. Smith was runner-up in the 500 freestyle in 5:00.82 while Bueling was third in the 100 freestyle in 49.98 seconds.
Vetter, who also made the all-East Region team, was fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.96 and seventh in the 50 freestyle in 23.92 seconds. Webb was third in the 100 butterfly in 56.67 seconds and fifth in the 200 individual medley in 2:09.88. Vaughn Raimo was sixth in the 200 freestyle in 1:56.64.
"I think the team is ready, and a lot of them are in position to cut a lot of time," Smith said. "I feel like I'm in a pretty similar position, not exactly where I want to be, but it's a position I can work with and have the race of my life next week."
Having the final meet of his career as the state meet in his home pool will be special, Bueling said. He'll be going against tough competition to win another state title, but Bueling said it'll be fun.
"I'm just excited for the team," Bueling said. "I think we all swam pretty well, and we've seen the program build as we've been on the team."