Spartans relay swimming prowess into state title

November 13, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Kristaley Umezawa (left), Skyline High School junior, and Issaquah High School senior Stacy Maier start side by side for the 200-yard medley relay final during the state 4A swim championship Nov. 10 in Federal Way. By Greg Farrar

Skyline, Issaquah, Liberty rank among state’s top 10 finishers

When Skyline High School’s Maria Volodkevich marched out to the poolside for the state championships Nov. 10 the words “just race” were scrawled across her palm.

It was the first event of the 2012 4A Girls State Swim and Dive Championships and, after finishing two-tenths of a second ahead of Issaquah in the preliminary race, the Spartans 200-yard medley relay team was ready to battle it out for the state title.

“Winning the 200 medley was my goal for the entire season, so I always write on my hand ‘just race’ before a race,” said the senior who anchored the team. “So, that is what I thought about diving in is just race.”

First off the block in lane four was Spartan Kristaley Umezawa; next to her in lane five was Stacy Maier, swimming backstroke for the Issaquah Eagles. The two emerged for their first breath at the same time, throwing their arms back in synchronized windmills. Maier edged ahead and Issaquah’s Kayla Flaten maintained the slight lead over Andi Scarcello in the second leg.

Then, Stephanie Munoz, of Skyline, dove in for the third leg and passed Eagle Kellie-Marie Langan.

“I didn’t know until the second 25 and I was like, ‘OK, I really need to bring it up for my team.’ It was really exciting,” Munoz said after the race. “I didn’t know what else to do but smile.”

Keeping the momentum going, Volodkevich dove in the pool for the final leg and pulled ahead of everyone to take the title for the Spartans. Skyline’s final time of 1 minute, 49.12 seconds was more than a second and a half faster than their preliminary finish.

“Steph and I always have this thing where she brings it in, and I take it home, every time. Before a race she is like I’ll bring it in, you take it home,” Volodkevich said. “It felt like all the hard work I’ve put into this team, and everyone’s hard work, paid off.”

With a time of 1:50.82, Issaquah finished the 200 medley relay in fourth place.

“It was a great race,” said Maier, who swam lead for the Issaquah team. “That was super fun, just having our whole team there. We did amazing in prelims. And we just had that great atmosphere and all that energy built up, and I was super excited.”

Issaquah coach Laura Halter was also excited by the race.

“That’s the fastest medley relay swim I’ve seen in three years,” she said. “They all brought their game on and they all performed very well.”

The championships were far from over for the Spartans and the Eagles, as their swimmers competed in several more events.

For Skyline: Munoz went on to swim the 100 butterfly in 59.30 to take eighth place. She also finished 13th in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:12.38. Volodkevich took fourth in the 100 freestyle with 53.13. After coming in a little more than a second behind the state champ in the 50 freestyle, Volodkevich finished fifth in the 50 freestyle in 24.13.

In the diving finals, Alyssa Holt placed 16th overall with 284.95 total points. Sara Elderkin finished the 100 butterfly in 1:03.6 for 15th. Swimming the 100 backstroke in 1:00.74, Umezawa placed 14th. Scarcello took fifth in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:06.97. In the championship’s final event, the 400 freestyle relay team (Umezawa, Scarcello, Munoz and Volodkevich) finished fifth with 3:40.41.

In the end, the entire Skyline team combined for fifth place overall with 132 points.

“Of course, the last three years have been different, but we are so pleased with our girls,” coach Susan Simpkins said.

Skyline won the state title in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“We are really happy with our outcome and how they swam,” Simpkins said. “And a lot of them are seniors, so it is a very emotional night.”

Issaquah

Right behind Skyline on the leadership board was Issaquah, who took sixth place overall with 127 team points. In the previous three years, the Eagles have placed fourth, sixth and fifth.

Issaquah had three swimmers in the top 16 of the 100 freestyle. Gabriel Gevers came in 10th with a time of 54.5 and Maier took fifth. Her time of 53.16 was three one-hundredths of a second behind fourth-place finisher Volodkevich.

“We are the best of friends. So it’s fun to always race against her,” Maier said of her Skyline opponent. “She did amazing and I couldn’t be happier for both of us.”

Right behind Maier was her teammate Kayla Flaten, who placed sixth with a time of 53.94. The Issaquah senior also took seventh in the 100 breaststroke, which she swam in 1:07.81.

“It was a great way to go out,” Flaten said. “It was really nice to see my whole team behind my block before my race … that was really special.”

Other top 16 finishes for Issaquah included the 200 freestyle relay team (Maier, Gevers, Michelle Francois and Flaten) taking sixth. Maier went on earn a fifth-place finish in the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.02. Gevers finished 10th in the 50 freestyle with 24.81. Francois swam the 500 freestyle in 5:25.79 for 13th place.

“In all the years I’ve been coaching, we’ve never had 10 swims at state and nine of them came back today,” Halter said. “I’m just so incredibly pleased with their swims yesterday and today, and really proud of them. What a great team.”

Liberty

After coming into the 3A state championship ranked 12th, the Liberty girls swim team racked up four top-eight finishes to take eighth place overall with 98 team points. With all of those points having been earned by underclassmen, coach Kris Daughters is already excited for next year.

“We are looking forward to the next couple of years. We should have strong teams,” she said after the meet. “The main state team is going to stay intact for the next two years.”

Daughters attributes a lot of the Liberty Patriots’ rise from their 12th-place ranking to an eighth-place finish to two freshmen: Ellie Hohensinner and Lauryn Hepp. Hohensinner finished the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:18.88.

“It was really, really nice to see her drop that seven and half seconds in the 500 yesterday to make the top eight,” Daughters said. “When you are making the top eight as a freshman, that’s a pretty big deal. It means you are one of the top swimmers in the state. I think it gives you some confidence and excitement for the next three years.”

Hepp also had a lot to be excited about. Her preliminary time of 59.89 made her the only freshman in the top eight finals for the 100 backstroke. With a final time of 1:00.52 she finished in eighth place.

“Her confidence has just grown and grown and grown,” Daughters said. “Believe me, I did not expect her to go under a minute in the backstroke yesterday. When she did that, I was probably more surprised than she was … it was amazing.”

Hohensinner and Hepp, along with Mackenna Briggs and Cecilia Nelson, also swam on both Liberty’s state 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams. With a time of 1:54.47, the Patriots took seventh in the 200 medley relay. The girls came back later to take ninth in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:44.63.

Briggs, a sophomore who painted her nails in Liberty colors blue, green and silver, earned the team’s top state finish when she took third in the 500 freestyle with a time personal best of 24.2.

“It’s just an awesome feeling,” she said after accepting her state medal. “It’s just all the work that you do pays off when you go up there.”

Diving for the Patriots, sophomore Christina Sargent took 14th with a total score of 266.85.

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