By Matt Phelps
The question surrounding the Mercer Island boys swim team this year was not if the team would be good, but just how good. The team that finished fourth last year at state has gained a talented freshman class and looks to go all the way this year.
The team sent out 1-2-3 warning shots for the state title.
First, Mercer Island took on the team that finished one spot ahead of them at last year’s state competition, Seattle Prep. The Islanders obliterated the Panthers 122-60 during the first round of the first annual dual meet challenge series Dec. 10 at Mary Wayte pool.
Second, Mercer Island dominated league rival Sammamish 118-68 by taking first in eight of the 12 events.
Finally, Mercer Island destroyed Kentridge by nearly 100 points.
Dual meet challenge series
The Islanders meet against Seattle Prep was expected to be a bit more challenging. Despite beating Prep swimmers in just 50 percent of the events, Mercer Island used its trademark depth to beat the Panthers as Wilson and Mount Rainier also competed against each other during the meet. Wilson beat the Rams 112-74 and will face Mercer Island in round two of the dual meet challenge Saturday, Jan. 7.
The Islanders took first in four events during the meet against the three other schools.
Islander freshman Alex Hoff exhibited the style and talent that his class has shown thus far this season. Hoff, Tad Homchick, Adam Jacobson and Murray Longbotham took fist in the 200-yard medley relay with a state time of 1:42.57. Hoff also went on to take first in the 100-yard backstroke with a state time of 57.94.
In diving, Beau Riebe continued his dominance with a 55.9 point victory over the rest of the field. His score of 212.25 keeps the freshman undefeated this season.
The Islanders also took the 200-yard freestyle relay as Ian Kaminski, Homchick, Jeff Benca and Kyle Sterling swam to state time of 1:34.80 and a first-place finish. The Islanders finished the meet with five state swimming times over all.
Chopping up the Totems
Mercer Island’s win over Sammamish was marked by Homchick’s two first-place finishes in singles competition and one in the relays. In the 200-yard medley relay Homchick led off for the Islanders with Kirk Harbaugh, Ryan Young and Jeff Welch, as Mercer Island finished first with a time of 1:46.19. In the 100-yard butterfly Homchick took first with a time of 55.24 and again took first in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.05.
Beau Riebe picked up another diving victory by scoring 225.45. The score destroyed the old meet record of 195.5 set by the Islanders’ David Wilson in 1998.
Islander Jay Voit won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:56.03.
Freshman Longbotham took first in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:52.30, while sophomore Harbaugh took first in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:09.29.
Shocking the Chargers
The Islanders kept rolling Friday, despite competing in their second meet in as many days, beating Kentridge 131-35. Mercer Island took first in nine-of-12 events as Voit placed first in two individual events and one relay to pace the Islanders.
Voit was first in the 200-yard individual medley (2:06.09) and the 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.44). Voit once again teamed with Longbotham Kaminski and Homchick in the 400-yard freestyle relay to cruise to a first-place time of 3:21.63.
Mercer Island’s 200-yard medley relay team (Hoff, Homchick, Harbaugh, and Thomas Stowell – 1:44.59) and the 200-yard freestyle relay team (Longbotham, Sterling, Kaminski and Stowell – 1:32.56) both placed first at the meet. Both teams improved on their times from the meet with the Totems.
Stanton placed first in the 100-yard backstroke (1:01.44) and Schaeffer again took first in the 500-yard freestyle (5:10.21). Jonathan Yu won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:06.70 and Riebe again ripped through the diving field with a score of 214.70 for first.
Longbotham rounded out the individual race victories with a 1:47.64 time in the 200-yard freestyle.
Mercer Island gets a well deserved break from competition for the winter break after the long week. But practice will continue as the Islanders prepare for the second half of the season as their first meet against rival Bellevue on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 3:45 p.m. and the second half of the dual meet challenge against Wilson. Both events will be held at Mary Wayte Pool.