ANCHORAGE - When the Juneau-Douglas High School girls swimming and diving team arrived at the Bartlett High School Swimming Pool for this weekend's state meet, the Crimson Bears' goals were fairly modest - set a school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay, and try to match or better last year's fifth-place tie finish.
The Crimson Bears did break the school record in Saturday's finals, but only managed to finish sixth in this year's team standings with 31 points.
The Service Cougars won their third state championship in four years with 116 points, while Lathrop took second place with 79. Soldotna, the 2002 champion, was third with 56 points, followed by Dimond with 49 and Colony with 39.
The Petersburg Vikings tied for seventh place with 29 points, while the Ketchikan Kings took 13th place with 16 points. The Sitka Wolves sent swimmers to the meet, but didn't score any team points although the Wolves did win the team academic award with a 3.96 GPA.
The Crimson Bears qualified more girls in individual events than Juneau's boys did, but the girls weren't ranked as highly in their events as the boys so they knew it was a longshot to compete with Service and Lathrop.
So they focused on the 200 free relay, where Juneau was seeded second with a time that was just off the school record. The Crimson Bears quartet of freshman Julia DiCostanzo, senior Heather Harris, freshman Kacey Klein and junior Kelsey Potdevin finished fourth on Saturday with a time of 1 minute, 43.95 seconds, which broke the school record and was nearly a full second faster than Juneau's Region V time of 1:44.76.
"Kacey's memorized it from gym class," Harris said. "Heck, yeah, I had a great time. As a senior, it was a way to go out with a bang."
"It was awesome," Potdevin added. "Last weekend we went out and raced and just missed it. I feel pretty good. We've got a lot of people back next year. This is a good base."
With two freshmen and a junior on the team, the Crimson Bears feel like the record could fall again next year.
"I was pretty confident," Klein said. "As a freshman to go home with a medal and a record is pretty good. It's better than anything I've done before."
"Just to make it to state as a freshman, I'm happy," DiCostanzo said. "We almost got it last week."
The Juneau quartet of Harris, freshman Amanda Jones, Klein and Potdevin took eighth place in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:54.25.
Juneau's top individual was junior Marnita Coenraad, who took fourth place in the diving event with a score of 286.15 points, just 1.90 behind third place. She was the only other Crimson Bear girl to win a medal (for the top four finishers).
"I was happy I got fourth, but I messed up a couple of my dives yesterday (Friday)," said Coenraad, who was last in the diving order for the 20 competitors. "I hate going last. By the end of eight (dives, the first two rounds on Friday), I was really done. I was cold."
Senior Lisse Focht reached the finals in two events, placing sixth in both the 200 free and 500 free races. Potdevin was sixth in the 100 free and seventh in the 100 backstroke, while Jones took seventh place in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 200 individual medley.
"I had about the same times I had yesterday," Focht said of her two finals. "Yesterday I missed a couple of turns. That last 50 yards (of the 500 free) I realized that was my last one ever and I got sad. I was really proud of my 200."
Petersburg's quartet of Carole Triem, Helen Riemer, Abbey Jackson and Angela Henderson took third place with a season-best time in the 200 medley relay, and the same four swimmers in a different order were sixth in the 200 free relay. Triem took fifth place in the 100 back and seventh place in the 200 free, while Jackson was fourth in the 100 butterfly.
Ketchikan took seventh place in the 200 medley relay, while senior Kate Gallaway was fourth in the 500 free and seventh in the 200 IM, and freshman Elizabeth Jagusch took fourth place in the 100 breaststroke.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.