Issaquah’s depth sinks Liberty
October 8, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
A quick glance at the score sheet from the Oct. 3 Liberty versus Issaquah swim meet can be a bit deceiving.
Liberty swimmers took the top spot in eight of the 12 events, yet it was the Eagles who emerged from the competition with a 104-81 win.
It’s not a large margin of victory for a swim meet, but it showcased the strength of Issaquah’s depth.
“We have some really good top-end swimmers. I think we won most of the events, but we weren’t getting a lot of seconds, thirds and fourths,” Liberty coach Kris Daughters said. “That’s what wins you meets.”
The youth-laden Issaquah squad is in a bit of a rebuilding year, after team stars Stacy Maier and Kayla Flaten graduated. While both continue their swimming careers in college, a freshman has emerged as a major player for the Eagles.
Jenifer Matsuda won two events in the meet against Liberty, and was a member of the 200 freestyle relay team that took first place. The freshman, who has already qualified for a few state events, placed first in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 1.22 seconds, and the 50 freestyle in 25.74, narrowly edging out senior teammate Gabrielle Gevers.
“Both her times were fast and much closer to state-qualifying times,” Issaquah coach Laura Halter said.
Matsuda joined teammates Sammantha Harbeck, Abigail Paxton and Gevers to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:48.51.
Issaquah’s Kristen Hines edged Liberty’s Christina Sargent for the top spot in the 1-meter diving competition, earning a score of 175.
Overall, though, Halter said her team appeared “tired,” the result of a late Bellevue meet Oct. 1, followed by an early morning practice.
“Some swims were good, some swims were tired,” she said. “I think it’s just been a tired week. We’ve got a lot of girls with colds and that kind of thing going on.”
Liberty is a young team, too, but it had a talented core of experienced athletes return that know what it takes to compete in state champions.
The foursome of Mackenna Briggs, Lauryn Hepp, Cecilia Nelson and Ellie Hohensinner played a part in the team’s eighth-place finish at state last year.
In the Issaquah meet, Briggs, a junior, won the 200 individual medley in 2:13.87, and the 500 freestyle in 5:15.77.
Nelson, also a junior, captured the 100 freestyle in 57.02, and the 100 breaststroke in 1:12.25.
Sophomores Hepp and Hohensinner each won an individual event. Hepp emerged victorious in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:03.68, while Hohensinner took first in the 200 freestyle in 2:03.63.
The Patriots also earned state-qualifying times in both of their relay wins.
Briggs, Hepp, Nelson and Hohensinner combined to win the 400 freestyle relay in 3:52.61, while a team of Briggs, Hepp, Nelson and talented newcomer Sydney Hartford, won the 200 medley relay in 1:57.73.
“I didn’t expect that she would have that much influence on the team this year, but she certainly is going to,” Daughters said of Hartford. “She’s a big surprise for me. A nice, happy surprise. She gives us a lot more versatility in our relays now and she’s only a freshman.”
Both teams are just a little more than a month away from the state championships. Issaquah placed sixth in 2012, and has sent three relay teams to state each of the past four years, something that may be a bit difficult for 2013’s young Issaquah team, Halter said.
“We’re not nearly as strong as we were for the last four years, but maybe we can get our act together and get a couple relays in at state,” she said.
Liberty’s young core is poised to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish, Daughters said.
“I think we’re going to do at least as well as last year, if not better,” she said. “I think our relays are going to be stronger than they were last year, especially the 400 freestyle relay.”