State meet awaits local high school swimmers

Juneau-Douglas High School qualified 13 swimmers for this weekend’s Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) First National Bank Alaska 2011 Swimming & Diving State Championships at Anchorage’s Bartlett High School.

Thunder Mountain qualified 12. Both schools’ coaches stated the teams would be swimming even faster times than last weekend’s region championships.

At the region championships the JDHS girl’s 200 Free Relay and the 200 Medley Relay both set new Region V meet records. The girl’s 400 relay finished second and also qualified for state.

“All three of our girls relays are going to state,” Millhorn said. “This is very exciting. During the region meet we waited until Friday evening to see how the girls felt and how they were swimming before deciding about relays. We always have some options.”

For relays, the conference champions are automatic and then the next best four finals times statewide.

JD’s 200-medley team (Back, breast, fly and free) are sophomore Haley Mertz, freshman Dakota Isaak, senior Auri Clark and freshman Ciera Kelly, with available swimmers being sophomore Addie Gonwa Ramonda, juniors Jocelyn Cayce and Talyn Ramos and senior Claressa Ullmayer.

The 200 freestyle relay members are Ramos, Clark, Isaak and Kelly, with alternates being Savannah (Soph.) and J. Cayce, Mertz and Gonwa Ramonda. The 400 free relay are S. Cayce, Ullmayer, Mertz and Ramos, with Kelly, Clark, Isaak and J. Cayce available.

The Thunder Mountain boys qualified by winning the 200 freestyle relay with freshman Thane Reishus-O’Brien, senior Tanner Olliff, sophomore Calvin Walsh and freshman Kenny Fox; alternates are juniors Jimmie Busch and Luke Brockmann, and sophomores Josiah Loseby and Hunter Bizzaro.

“Scott (assistant coach Griffith) labored over our relay selection at least a week,” Thunder Mountain coach Jason Wilson said. “There is a lot of strategy to put into it, figuring out who was doing what to maximize our points for the team.”

TMHS also qualified in third place in the 400 free relay with Fox, Busch, Walsh and Reishus-O’Brien; alternates are Loseby, Brockmann, Olliff, and freshman Trevor Jones,

“Last year we took two individuals to state,” Wilson said. “This year we are taking 10. That growth in numbers is very exciting. For our relay to almost win the meet for us is pretty big. A big step for us.”

Each region’s conference champion from individual events earns an automatic state berth and then the next 12 finals times statewide round out each swim. Diving selects the top two finishers from each region and the next best eight scores statewide.

For the girls, JD’s Clark qualified with a second and Ullmayer a third in the 200 freestyle; Mertz won the 200 individual medley, Isaak was second, TM’s freshman Hannah Brockmann third and JD’s S. Cayce fourth; Kelly won the 50 free and Ramos was fourth; S. Cayce qualified third in the 100 free and Ramos fourth; Kelly finished second in the 100 fly and Clark was third; Isaak won the 100 breaststroke, TM’s Brockmann was third and JD’s J. Cayce sixth for qualifiers; Mertz finished second in the 100 back; and Ullmayer won the 500 free. J. Cayce is a first alternate in the 100 fly and Abigail Taylor Roth is third alternate in the 200 IM. TM junior diver Hunter Nicholson qualified with a third place finish.

On the boys side, JD senior Nathan Messing qualified by winning the 100 fly with TM’s Fox second; Messing also qualified second in the 100 back; TM’s Walsh qualified with a second in the 200 free and a fourth in the 500 free with JD senior Tatsu Monkman qualifying fourth and fifth, respectively.

JD senior Calder Otsea qualified by winning the 100 free and finishing fourth in the 200 IM (TM’s Olliff qualified fifth); TM’s Fox qualified second in the 50 free with Reishus-O’Brien third; Reishus-O’Brien also qualified fourth in the 100 breaststroke with Brockmann fifth; and sophomore Matt Seagren stuck TM’s first region championship with JD senior Keith Andrews second.

Clark, S. Cayce, J. Cayce, Ramos, Mertz, Messing, Monkman, Olliff and Walsh have competed at state before. Seniors Andrews, Ullmayer and Otsea are making their first showing.

“The majority of the kids that are going to state are at the end of their training rest cycle,” Millhorn commented. “Some will feel more rested this weekend than last, plus they will get that little added excitement and rush from a state meet. Usually the freshmen are nervous, no matter how many years at major club level events, and it is a whole different feel. I anticipate our swimmers will swim faster this weekend.”

If enough of the JD girls get into Saturday’s individual finals swims, plus having double point scoring from three relays, the Crimson Bears could be close to a state title.

“The trick is to move as many kids from prelims on Friday to finals on Saturday,” Millhorn said. “I think the kids will be surprised how fast they swim, the coaches won’t. This has been a really good year for these kids.”

Preliminary competitions at state begin Friday morning and afternoon for swimmers and Friday evening for divers, with finals set for Saturday.

Dimond qualified a meet high 25 swimmers for state, Kodiak 21, Ketchikan and West Valley 18 apiece, Chugiak, Homer and Soldotna 17 each, JD and South 13, East, TM and Service 12, Sitka 11, Petersburg 10, Craig and North Pole 7, Seward 6, Lathrop 4, Palmer 4, Kenai 3, Eagle River and West 2, Colony, Cordova, Hutchison Career Center and Idea-AK 1 each.


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