The Juneau prep swim teams got all they could handle over the weekend in Anchorage, but both programs saw the state meet as a learning experience.
The Crimson Bears boys' team finished in third place overall after winning the meet in 2008 and finishing second last year, and the girls came in eighth at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State High School Swimming and Diving Championships at Bartlett High School.
But Juneau-Douglas didn't go out without any gold. The boys' 400-yard freestyle relay team of Nathan Messing, Josh Anderson, Cody Schick and Tyler Mickelson took the meet's final event, edging out Dimond by 1.3 seconds.
"I thought we all did pretty well. Everyone was rested and ready to go," Mickelson said. "I thought I did well against my opponents. I pulled that 200 IM out of the hat. I had it in me somewhere."
Mickelson also had two strong events, finishing second in the 100-yard butterfly (52.08), just more than a second back of Kenai's Winter Heaven (51.05).
Mickelson's personal record of 1:59.30 - five second faster than his previous best - in the 200-yard individual medley was good enough for third place.
"Tyler kind of came out of nowhere in his events (Saturday) afternoon," JDHS coach Kathrin Millhorn said. "I think he surprised some people, especially in the 200 IM, because he was seeded seventh going in."
Millhorn thought the team performed well in the pool, but she also said she hopes some of the underclassmen learned from their experience.
"The boys swam well, but they just had some difficulty getting from prelims to finals," she said. "It was a learning experience for our younger swimmers, and it was good for them to get that so they'll come back stronger next year."
Other notable swimmers included senior Evan Norman, who achieved a personal best in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:05.65. And Haley Mertz improved on her JDHS freshman-record time in the 100 backstroke with a 1:01.93 in the preliminaries before placing eighth in the finals (1:02.83).
"Things are looking great (with the program)," Millhorn said. "We brought two freshman girls that gained experience here. Some of the sophomores who weren't here last year gained some state experience.
"In spite of the fact that they swim year round, the high school season and state high school meet have this scary aura around them," she continued. "The kids get really nervous, but they're learning the ropes and figuring out how it goes."
The Thunder Mountain Falcons sent two boys for the first time in school history. And while they didn't have the numbers to compete for a state title, coach Jason Wilson said he was pleased with both of his kids' events, especially junior Tanner Olliff's lifetime best of 1:07.04 in the 100 breaststroke.
Wilson's sentiments were similar to those of Millhorn.
"It's a really good experience for both of them to come up here and be a part of state," he said. "I wouldn't say it was overwhelming, but it was just awesome for the kids."
Wilson said his team is already looking toward the future.
"They're already talking about next year, and it's looking good for Thunder Mountain," he said. "We're going to be stepping up quite a bit next year. We're going to get some freshmen in here, our numbers are going to increase, the coaching staff is going to learn and we're getting a new pool next year.
"It's something to look forward to."
Region V top finishers:
Girls' 200 IM relay - 3. Ketchikan - Isabel Stephens, Kendra Standley, Alissa Bezenek, Emilee Johnson, 1:53.40; 6. Juneau-Douglas - Haley Mertz, Elsa Robinson, Savannah Cayce, Talyn Ramos, 1:58.70.
Boys' 200 IM relay - 3. Juneau-Douglas - Nathan Messing, Evan Norman, Tyler Mickelson, Jonah Swanson, 1:41.09; 5. Sitka - Louis Belley, Jacob Reid, Evan Harrington, Carl Sundstren-Brenner, 1:43.77.
Girls' 200 freestyle - 2. Emilee Johnson, Ketchikan, 1:57.30; 6. Maddy Stephens, Ketchikan, 2:03.80.
Boys' 200 freestyle - 2. Jordan Reid, Petersburg, 1:45.30; 6. Josh Anderson, Juneau-Douglas, 1:49.50.
Girls' 200 IM - 6. Auri Clark, Juneau-Douglas, 2:16.30.
Boys' 200 IM - 1. Preston Marsh, Petersburg, 1:55.70; 3. Tyler Mickelson, Juneau-Douglas, 1:59.30; 5. Nathan Messing, Juneau-Douglas, 2:01.50; 8. Louis Belley, Sitka, 2:05.90.
Girls' 50 freestyle - 6. Isabel Stephens, Ketchikan, 25.60; 7. Megan Reid, Sitka, 25.60.
Girls' 1-meter diving - 7. Sam Sharp, Juneau-Douglas, 278.50.
Girls' 100 butterfly - 6. Auri Clark, Juneau-Douglas, 59.90.
Boys' 100 butterfly - 2. Tyler Mickelson, Juneau-Douglas, 52.00.
Girls' 100 freestyle - 3. Emilee Johnson, Ketchikan, 53.90.
Boys' 100 freestyle - 6. Josh Anderson, Juneau-Douglas, 48.80; 7. Cody Schick, Juneau-Douglas, 49.5.
Boys' 500 freestyle - 1. Case Kuikhoven, Ketchikan, 4:50.20; 6. Ellis Miller, Ketchikan, 5:10.30.
Girls' 200 freestyle relay - 5. Ketchikan - Isabel Stephens, Aly Walker, Maddy Stephens, Emilee Johnson, 1:42.62; 8. Juneau-Douglas - Cassie Anderson, Savannah Cayce, Gabi Muzilli, Auri Clark, 1:47.65.
Girls' 100 backstroke - 7. Alissa Bezenek, Ketchikan, 1:02.30; 8. Haley Mertz, Juneau-Douglas, 1:02.80.
Boys' 100 backstroke - 3. Nathan Messing, Juneau-Douglas, 54.90; 5. Louis Belley, Sitka, 56.40.
Girls' 100 breaststroke - 3. Kendra Standley, Ketchikan, 1:07.90.
Boys' 100 breaststoke - 2. Preston Marsh, Petersburg, 59.10; 6. Jonah Swanson, Juneau-Douglas, 1:03.80; 8. Jacob Reid, Sitka, 1:05.80.
Girls' 400 freestyle relay - 6. Ketchikan - Isabel Stephens, Aly Walker, Kendra Standley, Alissa Bezenek, 3:52.69.
Boys' 400 freestyle relay - 1. Juneau-Douglas - Nathan Messing, Josh Anderson, Cody Schick, Tyler Mickelson, 3:14.70; 3. Petersburg - Jordan Reid, Ian McCallum, Joe Zarlengo, Preston Marsh, 3:17.21; 6. Sitka - Evan Harrington, Carl Sundstren-Brenner, Louis Belley, Jacob Reid, 3:25.53.