Eagles win first SeaKing district swimming title

February 14, 2012

By Bob Taylor

 Brian Ruggles, Issaquah High School senior, leaps at the start of his 100-yard backstroke race Jan. 10 against Eastlake High School at the Julius Boehm Pool. By Christopher Huber

The Issaquah High School boys swim team had current coaches, former coaches and swimmers searching the program’s records last weekend.

That’s because the Eagles just might have established a first for the program. On Feb. 11, Issaquah finished in first place at the Sea-King District 4A Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Washington. The Eagles, sparked by two first-place relays, compiled 233 points to top KingCo Conference rival Newport by 2.5 points.

“None of the coaches around the league, and even former Issaquah coaches, can remember Issaquah ever winning a district championship,” Issaquah coach Laura Halter said.

For the time being, Halter will mark this down as a first for the program.

“It was a pretty exciting meet,” she said. “It was just a lot of fun.”

The Eagles hope to establish another new mark Feb. 17-18, when they compete in the Class 4A championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Skyline joins Issaquah at the meet.

The prelims start 2:30 p.m. Feb. 17. The finals are set for 2:15 p.m. Feb. 18.

Liberty, which got two first places from Logan Briggs at the Sea-King District 3A meet, is entered in the 3A championships. The prelims for the 3A meet begin at 9:45 a.m. Feb. 17. The finals start at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 18.

Prior to the district meet, the Issaquah boys team hoped to equal the girls’ fifth-place finish at last fall’s state meet. But after winning district, the Eagles might have higher goals for the state meet.

“I think they are really eyeing that fourth-place hardware,” Halter said.

Halter said she thought her team, based on the performances of the 200 individual medley relay and 200 freestyle relay this winter, would have a good shot at the district title. The key to the title was really the first day of preliminary races, when all the Issaquah swimmers qualified for the second-day races.

“We really swam well on the first day. It set us up to score a lot of points in the finals,” Halter said. “We did not have a single disappointing swim from any of the boys.”

Issaquah opened the finals with a dazzling effort in the 200 medley relay. The Eagles finished first in 1 minute, 39.22 seconds to set a district record. Willy Matsuda, Austin Melody, Gabe Florsheim and Brian Ruggles made up the relay team, which despite the impressive time fell short of the 1990 school record.

When the time was posted, Halter thought it looked fast. Then, she checked the meet program and was elated to see the Eagles had set a new district record.

Newport was second in 1:42.86. Skyline finished fourth in 1:46.40. Alec Raines, David Jett, Paul Jett and Ashton Powell made up Skyline’s relay.

The Issaquah coaching staff thought about making some changes to the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams. However, the coaches decided to stay with Matsuda, Dave Nam, Florsheim and Ruggles in the 200 freestyle relay. The plan worked as the Eagles nipped Newport for first place. Issaquah finished in a state-qualifying time of 1:30.17. Newport was second in 1:30.79.

Ruggles, a senior, had a strong all-around meet. He finished second twice to Newport’s Sebastian Bury. Ruggles was runnerup to Bury in the 50 freestyle in 22.02. Bury finished first in 21.97. The two battled it out in the 100 freestyle with Bury just edging Ruggles for first place. Bury’s winning time was 48.84 and Ruggles finished in 48.88.

Matsuda had state-qualifying times in finishing fourth in the 100 backstroke (55.20) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (54.02).

Melody had a state-qualifying time in finishing second in the 200 individual medley (2:02.24) and just missed in the finals of the 100 breaststroke (1:03.42). However, he had a state-qualifying time of 1:02.71 in the prelims.

Nam had a state-qualifying time of 22.75 in placing third in the 50 freestyle. Florsheim met the state standard in the 100 butterfly by placing third in 53.73.

Every Issaquah swimmer scored a point in the finals.

“It really showed that this was totally a team effort,” Halter said.

She noted how senior diver Spencer Gevers, who barely qualified for the meet, finished ninth to give the Eagles four vital points.

“If he does not come through, we do not win,” Halter said.

Spencer McCulloh finished eighth in the 100 freestyle, but his effort was good for five points.

“If he does not place, we do not win. Every guy came through for us. That is the reason we won,” Halter said.

Skyline’s Max Levy finished first in the diving with 433.2 points.

As a team, Skyline finished seventh with 96 points.

Eastlake’s Edward Kim had district record-setting efforts in winning the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Kim won the 200 freestyle in an All-America Consideration time of 1:41.11. He took first in the 100 backstroke in an All-America Consideration time of 51.01.

Liberty’s Logan Briggs takes two

Briggs captured the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle at the Sea-King District 3A Championships at Mercer Island’s Mary Wayte Pool.

Briggs set a school-record in winning the 200 individual medley in 1:56.19. He won the 500 freestyle in 4:41.11.

Liberty’s Raymond Ha won the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.38.

As a team, the Patriots finished fourth with 148 points. Lakeside won the team title with 294 points with Mercer Island second with 226.

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One Response to “Eagles win first SeaKing district swimming title”

  1. Bob Gevers on February 16th, 2012 8:36 am

    As Spender”s Grandfather, I am totally elated and excited about Spencer”s diving result, that helped the team to win the Seaking District meet.

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