CHUGIAK & ANCHORAGE -- The Alaska state swimming and diving meet didn't quite go off as planned this weekend.
But organizers were able to get the meet in, even though it meant moving Saturday's diving preliminaries and the swimming and diving finals about 15 miles north to Chugiak High School.
While the preliminaries were underway Friday afternoon at Anchorage's Bartlett High School, a sewage pump blew which leaked down in the pump room underneath the main pool but not in the pool itself. But, with no working plumbing facilities and no possibility of a repair by Saturday, meet officials had to move the meet.
Since Bartlett is the state's only eight-lane pool, that meant some late-night reseeding of the finals to convert the meet to six lanes. Instead of one final in each event, there were now two heats of four swimmers each.
Despite the changes, the meet went on somewhat as scheduled and there were even three state meet records set in Saturday's finals.
The Dimond boys claimed their fourth straight state championship, posting 109 points to finish ahead of Soldotna with 93. Chugiak had 50 points for third place, Service had 48 and Ketchikan was fifth with 38 points. Petersburg tied with West Valley for sixth place with 35 points, while Juneau-Douglas had 32 points for eighth place and Sitka was 11th place with 15 points.
The Service Cougars won the girls team title with 122.5 points, followed by Dimond with 80 points, two-time defending champion Lathrop with 62, Soldotna had 54 points for fourth and Chugiak was fifth with 45. Petersburg was the top Southeast team, tying with East Anchorage for seventh place with 26 points, while Juneau was 12th place with 17 points and Sitka was 16th with two points. Ketchikan and Craig also sent swimmers, but they didn't score.
"Some of our younger kids were disappointed because they didn't do as well as they expected, but this was a learning experience for them," Juneau coach John Wray said after noting that both Juneau scores were improvements over last year.
"I thought we swam OK," Wray added. "All that emotion we had last week at regions, we had a hard time duplicating that. We had some solid swims. Jake Kreuzenstein had a PR (personal record) in the 500 free, and the girls 400 free relay I think is a school record. We've got all of them back next year."
No Southeast swimmers or divers won an event. But there were three second-place finishes from Region V swimmers, plus several thirds.
Juneau's boys 200-yard medley relay team of Kreuzenstein, Jeremy Carpenter, Chad Walter and Reid Harris took second place to open the meet, trailing first-place Dimond by four seconds but edging Petersburg's team by a fraction of a second.
"We didn't have much of a chance with Dimond, we were just going for second," Walter said.
"I was kind of worried about Soldotna," Harris said. "This shows we can compete with the rest of the state."
Petersburg's Derek Carlson was trying to defend his state title in the boys 50 freestyle, and to extend a streak of Petersburg victories in the event to four straight years. But Palmer's Dirk Craft edged Carlson to end the streak, with Craft posting a time of 21.62 seconds to Carlson's 21.70 with Ketchikan's Joey Rauwolf third at 22.06. Carlson did post a PR in the event and later took third place in the 100 backstroke.
"I thought I was a little bit faster," Carlson said. "It was a little different without everybody swimming, but it feels the same. I was fine. It was as good a race as I had."
Rauwolf had the other second-place finish from Region V, moving up several places after being seeded into the second and slower heat of the 100 butterfly. Lucas Peterson of Soldotna set a state-meet record in the event with a 50.97 clocking, followed by Rauwolf at 53.82. Walter took sixth in the event at 55.40 after being seeded second following the region meet and third after Friday's preliminaries.
"I was going for a 54, but I wasn't trying to medal," Rauwolf said. "I was surprised. I looked up and wondered who got the 53. Then I realized it was me. I was just loose and trying to beat the person next to me."
Besides Petersburg's boys in the 200 medley relay, three other Southeast relays took third place in their events -- the Petersburg girls in the 200 medley, and the Ketchikan boys in both the 200 free and 400 free relays. Juneau's girls were fourth in the 400 free relay for their best finish.
"I was surprised," said Ketchikan's Ryan Seaver, who teamed up with Rauwolf, Ben Voetberg and Nick Rosenfeld in both of Ketchikan's medal-winning relays. "We've still got a year together. It's been eight years since the last time a Ketchikan relay medaled at state."
One of the top Southeast hopes for a state title was by Sitka diver Derek Hirai, but he ended up finishing fourth after leading through eight of the 11 dives. Hirai's score of 403.10 points was good enough for all-American consideration, but he was passed by Lathrop's Jake Miller (413.35), Soldotna's Matt Medina (410.05) and Colony's Robert Estrada (407.75) in one of the closest diving finishes in recent years.
"I was hoping, but I knew I'd have a hard time because everyone had really some hard dives in the finals," said Hirai, who took second place last year with a score of 400.20. "My second one, a full twisting 1 1/2, hurt me. I got a 34 and I was hoping to be in the 40s."
For most of the swimmers, Saturday's finals weren't so much about winning as they were about adjusting to the reconfigured meet. Some swimmers said they really missed having all eight finalists swimming next to each other, while others said they didn't really notice the change.
"I wouldn't have noticed who I was swimming against anyway," Carpenter said.
"The 100 is all out, so you wouldn't notice so much there," added Forrest Preston, who finished sixth in the 500 free and seventh in the 200 free for Juneau. "But the 500 is all about pacing and it would have been nice to see these other guys more."
Heather Harris, who took seventh in the girls 500 for Juneau, said she also missed the wider pool.
"It would have been more competitive," Harris said. "It's easier to swim in an eight-lane pool. It kind of helps when you know what's going on next to you."
Some of the other Southeast swimmers said they also noticed a difference with the pool. But under the circumstances, all they could do was try to adjust to the reconfigured meet.
"It doesn't feel like state any more," said Petersburg senior Amber Beardslee, who sixth in the 50 free and seventh in the 100 back. "We're just having fun."
"You just have to swim your own race and focus on yourself," said Sitka senior Alexis Will, who took eighth in both the 200 free and the 100 back. "There were some good races across the board. We're here to swim, and they fixed it so we could."
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