The Region V swimming and diving championships could be termed the meet of the freshmen; or of the siblings; of the underdog or the top dog; the rising rookie or the crafty veteran; the first-time champ or the repeat state qualifier.
For all the scenarios that can possibly come up this weekend at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center, no matter what the outcome, the swim fan will be witness to one of the most competitive fields in the state.
“It is the same kids from the swim clubs coming up into high school,” Glacier Swim Club coach Scott Griffith said. Griffith is also the Thunder Mountain High School assistant coach. “It is fun, especially here when they go on different teams, the ebb and flow and how it affects the teams.”
Nearly one quarter (96 of 402) of Alaska’s state qualifying times will be in the Dimond Park pool Friday and Saturday.
The two strongest girls teams are Juneau-Douglas High School and Ketchikan.
Petersburg is the favorite on the boys side with Sitka close behind. TMHS and JDHS are in the mix although the Crimson Bears recently lost swimmers for unspecified reasons.
Relays will be crucial for team scoring as they are worth double points. The new eight-lane pool also plays a role as the scoring opportunities now make it possible for more finals swimmers. If the scoring between teams gets down to 15 points, the extra 25 percent of swimmers will decide the meet.
The Sitka 200-yard medley relay team has the fastest time in the state with Petersburg fifth and TM, Craig, JD and Ketchikan all ranked.
One of the most interesting swims is the girls 200 medley relay. JD is ranked first in the state and at No. 2 is Southeast nemesis Ketchikan.
“I feel we have a really strong girls’ team this year,” JDHS senior Auri Clark said. “I am really excited to see how we do with the relays in regions and state. I am really excited for that.”
Clark, a four-year swimming letterwinner, has gone to state each year.
“I have been working harder and am a bit more tired,” Clark said. “I am hoping to get my best times and make this my best year.”
Individually Ketchikan’s Janelle Stacey (50 freestyle, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free) and Petersburg’s Preston Marsh (100 free, 50 free, 100 butterfly) are the top swimmers that can break region and state records. Stacey also has the fastest fly in the state and Marsh the fastest individual medley (IM) and 100 breaststroke.
Notable Crimson Bears and Falcons to look for with top 16 state times are JD’s Clark (200 free, 100 fly), Nathan Messing (200 free, 200 IM, 100 fly), Cody Schick (50 free, 100 free, 200 free), Ciera Kelly (50 free, 100 free, 100 breast, 200 IM, 100 fly), Dakota Isaak (50 free, 100 fly, 100 breast), Haley Mertz (100 backstroke), Keith Andrews, Peter Bellagh (diving), Calder Otsea (100 free); and TMHS’ Kenny Fox (50 free), Thane Reishus-O’Brien (50 free, 100 breast) and Terra Pierce (diving).
Freshman Isaak will score points, Mertz can break the JD back record and Kelly can break both the 50 free and 100 fly marks. Falcons’ Reishus-O’Brien, Pierce, Erika McCormick, Trevor Jones, Fox, Dana Bogatko, and Hannah Brockmann also possess the young stroke to get a ticket up to Anchorage.
Senior JD swimmers include Claressa Ullmayer, Clark, Andrews, Bellagh, Cody Dennis, Nathan Messing, Tatsu Monkman, Derek Oliver, Otsea; juniors Jocelyn Cayce and Julianna Lukshin; sophomore’s Mertz, Savannah Cayce, and Addie Gonwa Romanda; freshmen are Abigail Taylor Roth, Cecilia Ramos, Kelly, Isaak, Erika-Marie Cruz, Christian Reyes, Robert Newman.
The TM roster includes siblings Matthew and Carmel Seagren, both freshmen divers and capable of moving on to the state championships Nov. 4-5 in Anchorage; freshman Hannah Brockmann and her junior brother Luke (both state contenders); and the sibling duo, Martha and Emma Bullock; their sister Anna tore up the swim lanes for years. Now the Bullocks, and junior brother Benson look to put their own name in the family Speedo tree.
“It makes it easy to carpool,” Emma Bullock said, pointing to driver Ben.
“It’s not that bad,” Ben Bullock said. “Last year I had an older sister who did it and now it is my turn, it is not that bad.”
Martha’s goal is to have fun, Emma’s to make finals and Ben to bring home bragging rights.
The team includes seniors Tanner Olliff, Keely Pearson; juniors Scott Allan, Joseph Ferlauto, Keanen Jensen, Erin Krogstad, Hunter Nicholson, Carmen Smith and Selene Smith; Sophomore’s Justin Watanabe, Calvin Walsh, Hannah Marx, Josiah Loseby, Kalino Iha, and Hunter Bizzarro.
Falcons’ senior James Busch is ready to make a strong region showing, something his older sisters Katie and Lauren did for the JDHS swim team.
The Region Championships determines qualifiers for next week’s state championships in Anchorage. Swimmers qualify by winning an event at their region championships or swimming a time in the top 16 (in the state) at their respective regions.
The winner of each individual event in the four regions gets an automatic bid and then the next 12 region meet times. The winner of each relay event in the four regions gets the bid and the next four times for a total of eight teams.
“I am swimming my best events,” JD’s Nathan Messing said. “I know I will do well, I am placed first and have worked hard to get here. It has been a long run but it is fun. I am anxious to show Kenny (Fox) I am still the top dog.”
Preliminary events begin at 5 p.m. Friday, with finals starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.