February 19, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
All area high school swimmers win team, individual state titles
At the 2013 4A Boys State Swim and Dive Championships, Issaquah High School coach Laura Halter wore a T-shirt with an illustration of purple-and-gold eagle wings on the back. Each feather included the name of one of her swimmers.
It proved to be an appropriate symbol, as it took each swimmer working together to help the Eagles take flight toward a fourth-place finish at state.
In order to excel in state competition, teams must string together solid relay results, and Issaquah’s superb teamwork was on full display at the King County Aquatic Center on Feb. 15-16.
The Eagles began the competition with a third-place finish in the 200 medley relay. The team of Ben Nussbaum, Austin Melody, Gabe Florsheim and Spencer McCulloh secured the finish with a time of 1 minute, 37.57 seconds.
In the thrilling 200 freestyle relay, the Eagles surprised everyone but themselves on the way to a first-place finish with a time of 1:28.95. Issaquah won the same event last year, but after preliminaries, the Eagles were seeded fifth.
The relay team of Willy Matsuda, Henry Pratt, Florsheim and McCulloh trailed through most of the heat. It wasn’t until the very last leg of the race that the Eagles took the lead and secured the win.
In what may have been the most exciting race of the day, the Eagles held off state swimming power Kamiak High School, which led for most of the race.
As McCulloh emerged from the pool after swimming the anchor leg of the relay, cheers of excitement from Issaquah supporters roared through the stands, while the Issaquah swim team enthusiastically celebrated the win on the pool deck.
“Each team member couldn’t have done more for his team,” Pratt said. “Willy did exactly what he needed to do, Gabe did exactly what he needed to do, I did what I had to do and so did Spencer.”
For McCulloh, a senior, it was the perfect ending to his high school career.
“Oh my goodness, to go out like that, what else could you ask for?” he said. “First place in my favorite relay, my favorite event, it was so good. It was the perfect relay.”
In individual events, Issaquah’s Melody and Florsheim each took home medals. Melody, a senior, placed sixth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:56.67, while Florsheim, a sophomore, took sixth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 52.29.
It was all about the team, though, as the Eagles excitedly hoisted the fourth-place trophy at the end of the day.
“Some schools have a couple of hot shots, but we have a team, and there’s nothing else you can ask for,” Pratt said.
Skyline’s Max Levy goes out on top
After two consecutive years of second-place finishes, Skyline High School senior Max Levy ended his career as the state’s 2013 4A 1-meter diving champion.
The gymnast-turned-diver, who began the sport just three years ago, finished with a score of 463.5, more than 50 points higher than the second-place finisher.
“It’s a culmination of all of my hard work that I’ve done since I started diving,” Levy said. “It’s all led up to this point, and I’m just really excited that I’m finally first.”
Levy spent the past few months preparing tirelessly for the Feb. 16 final and now that it’s over, he reflected fondly on what has been a successful high school career.
“There’s a little bit of relief now that state is over, but I’m going to miss high school diving and being here with my teammates,” he said.
Liberty’s Raymond Ha takes first in the 100 breaststroke
Liberty High School senior Raymond Ha successfully defended his title in the 100 breaststroke with an All-American consideration time of 57.79, just shy of the 57.46 school record he set at last year’s competition.
The 3A state champion admitted he was a bit nervous coming into the last state competition of his career, but credited the support of his coach and teammates for helping him succeed.
“It was very nerve-wracking coming up to the event,” he said. “I’m actually really glad I’m done with high school swimming, but I’m glad to end it on a good note.”
Liberty coach Kris Daughters said Ha’s performance was the perfect finish to a solid high school career.
“That’s kind of an emotional finish,” she said. “He’s just a great kid and a really fierce competitor.”
Liberty sophomore Nick Klatt also put together solid performances, taking fourth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:42.95 and third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:36.69.
In the 500 freestyle preliminaries, Klatt emerged with the top-qualifying time, making his third-place finish in the finals a bit of a disappointment, he said.
“In the 500 free, I was seeded first but I came in third. I had more in me. I could have done better,” Klatt said.
While Klatt did not come out on top in the 500 freestyle, he did post his best time ever, and still has a lot of swimming ahead of him, Daughters said.
“He swam really well. That’s an incredible time for a sophomore,” she said. “I think he wanted a win, but at the state meet, even if you’re first in prelims, you’ve got to come out and give it your all, and I think he did that today.”
Liberty junior Connor Biehl finished eighth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57.78.
It was an overall successful day for the Patriots, and Daughters said she looks forward to having swimmers such as Biehl and Klatt back next year.
“It was just really exciting to see the boys swimming so fast and having all their hard work pay off,” she said.