Sports

Mercer Island swimming repeats state title

For the second straight year, the Mercer Island girls swim and dive team can claim they are the best in the state. They won Saturday's 3A swim and dive finals at King County Aquatic Center with 278 points, ahead of Bainbridge's second place 220 points.

The Islanders earned four individual event titles during the met, as sophomore Grace Wold won the 200 individual medley race and the 100 butterfly, while senior Lauren Poli took home the title in the 100 breast stroke race. The Islanders also won the 200 individual medley relay race at the beginning of the meet.

"It feels really good, mostly I'm really, really happy for the girls, they worked really hard," said head coach Chauntelle Johnson who coached last years state winning team as well. "All year we were kind of the team that everyone wanted to beat and they responded really well to it. It's really nice. The thing I'm most excited about are some of the swims we did today, not in terms of just places, but in terms of times, girls swimming out of their mind fast for us and that to me is one of the most satisfying things. To see them performing well, and swimming faster than they ever have, is very humbling to me to watch these kids fight and struggle through I'm really sore, tears, I'm so frustrated and to see them get to this point today, it's very awesome. It's really really great."

Wold's first win of the night in the medley race came just under a second faster than Jessica Bottelberghe of Columbia River's time. Wold earned the title with a 2:04.75 time in the pool.

"I was trying my hardest to control only what I could control," said Wold of the race. "When I finished I was surprised because last year she beat me, so it's pretty rewarding."

Wold was also a member of the winning 200 relay team, along with Poli, Madeleine Chandless and Christina Williamson who won in 1:50.34. Wold's second win of the meet came in the 100 butterfly race, when she finished in 56.22, just ahead of Bainbridge's Tess Harpur.

"I'm so proud of the team," said Wold. "It's so much fun to be apart of it."

Johnson said she was impressed with Wold, especially as she has seen the sophomore grow in her first two years of high school swimming.

"You can see the difference, if you saw the swims last year you saw a kid who was a freshman to a kid whose a sophomore," said Johnson. "You see a kid who has been here before and a kid who was thirsty. She fought and she got to the swims and did the best she can."

For senior captain Poli, who also took fifth overall in the 50 freestyle race, the meet was a culmination of four years of work. She won the 100 breast stroke, her signature event, in 1:05.34

"It was my last race, it was a good way to end my high school career," she said. She said she felt her 50 freestyle race was right on what her best time was, but she wished she could change small details about it.

"To see a senior get that title in her signature event was nice. It was so awesome to see her finally get that crowning moment," said her coach.

While there were four individual event titles, the team won doing exactly what they have done all season, swim hard in every event, even if they aren't in the finals.

"I love having kids like Grace and Lauren on the team, but it takes more just those two kids to take home a bigger trophy," said Johnson. "Maybe the things that don't always show up on paper are the kids who didn't swim today or the kids who trained with these girls this season they are just as much a part of this championship as the girls who swam in the races. I know that the girls that swam would say the exact same thing, even the kids who weren't in the top eight but were in the top 16 swims were very, very important to us. If we didn't have those swims we wouldn't be having the same conversion. In my mind you win team championships exactly that way by using the team, by using everybody, whether they're competing or not."

Helping the team do just that was: Caitlin Cox, taking 12th in the 200 yard freestyle, along with Masami Cookson who was 16th in that event, Madeline Larkin, who was 10th in the 200 individual medley race, along with Danielle Deiparine who took 12th in the IM, freshman Alex Seidel who took 16th in the 50 yard freestyle, Vanessa Gaffney who earned a sixth place in the diving competition and Chandless, who earned a 16th place in the 100 butterfly. Seidel also earned a 13th place finish in the 100 yard freestyle event, while Catherine Hoff took 11th in the 500 yard freestyle, with Lindsay White earning 15th and Alyssa Hatsukami taking home 16th in the same race. The Mercer Island 200-yard freestyle relay team of Poli, Williamson, Cookson and Seidel earned a fifth place for the year while Larkin brought home seventh n the 100-yard backstroke and Cox earned an eighth place. Heather Chan earned 15th in the backstroke event. Kristin Hoffman, a sophomore was 14th overall in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:03.88 and Kira Godfred brought home a 10th place finish in the 100-yard backstroke. Senior Sara Gluck was eighth in the breast stroke race, while Deiparine took home ninth and Natalie Marques was 12th. In the final event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle, the relay team of Seidel, Williamson, Deiparine and Wold earned a fourth place finish.

"I'm really happy and I'm really happy for the team, it's been a really good season," said Poli.

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