ANCHORAGE - The Juneau-Douglas High School girls swim team wasn't shooting for a team title in this year's state meet Friday and Saturday at Anchorage's Bartlett High School Swim Pool, but the Crimson Bears still had goals for the meet.
"We want to finish in the top five," Juneau senior Weather Potdevin said before the meet.
The Crimson Bear girls met that goal, even if they had to share fifth place with the Colony Knights.
The Soldotna Stars upset the two-time defending girls state champion Service Cougars to win the team title by two points, 94-92, with Dimond taking third with 67 points and Lathrop fourth with 61. Juneau and Colony both scored 40 points to share fifth place. Petersburg took 13th place with 11 points and Ketchikan tied for 16th place with two points, while Sitka and Craig both had state qualifiers but did not score team points.
"It's great to be able to say we're one of the top five teams in the state," Potdevin said after the meet when she found out the final team scores. "They'll keep getting better. They've got plenty of kids coming up from GSC (Glacier Swim Club)."
"That was our goal," said sophomore Kelsey Potdevin, Weather's younger sister. "Next year we'll be even better. We've been getting progressively better every year."
The fifth-place tie was Juneau's best finish since 1997, with most of their finishes in recent years being in the double-digit places. Last year the team took 10th place, and that was an improvement on the year before.
"We did well," Juneau sophomore Heather Harris said.
"We wanted to be higher than before," Juneau senior Martha Kaiser added.
Juneau's girls didn't win any individual events, with a best finish of fourth place by the 200-yard medley relay team of Kelsey Potdevin, sophomore Robyn Grayson, Weather Potdevin and Kaiser, and fourth place by Weather Potdevin in the 500 freestyle.
"That was awesome," Potdevin said of the 500 free, where she'd been as far back as sixth place. "I noticed they got a little ahead of me, and I decided to go faster after the 200 mark. That was my best time by a second."
Sophomore diver Marnita Coenraad took fifth place, even though she said she was intimidated by the other divers since it was her first trip to the state meet.
"It was good, but I could have done a lot better," Coenraad said. "I was really happy I made finals. During prelims I was worried and during the semis I told myself I have to do good to make it. I'll go to a couple of camps this summer."
Kelsey Potdevin finished fifth in the 100 backstroke, while sophomore Lisse Focht took sixth place in the 500 free and Weather Potdevin added a seventh-place finish in the 200 free to round out the rest of the Juneau swimmers in the finals.
"It was good, but I was really tired," Focht said of her 500 free. "I had to tell myself I wasn't tired."
Juneau's other two relay teams both finished sixth, with the 200 freestyle relay team featuring Harris, Focht, freshman Giselle Stone and Kaiser, and the 400 freestyle relay team being comprised of Kelsey Potdevin, Weather Potdevin, Harris and Kaiser.
"I thought we did well," Stone said. "I didn't get my best start, even though I had my best time."
The only state records broken Saturday came in girls events, with West Anchorage's Sarah Rockwell setting records in both the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle. Service's Brette Winegarner improved on her existing record in the 100 backstroke, but her false start in the 400 free relay disqualified her top-seeded relay team and probably cost Service its fifth state title in seven years.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.