Spartans make waves
November 19, 2013
By Neil Pierson
Skyline takes fourth in state, Liberty’s Mackenna Briggs wins 100 butterfly
After finishing fifth at the 2012 state championships, the Skyline High School girls swimming and diving team didn’t want to go home again without some hardware.
Only the top four teams get trophies, and Skyline managed to score 146 points to snatch fourth place at the Class 4A state meet, held Nov. 15-16 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The Spartans didn’t win any events, but their consistency throughout most of the meet proved valuable. They earned seven medals, including a runner-up finish from senior diver Erin Taylor.
Taylor started diving only last year, but she improved dramatically upon a 17th-place finish at state in 2012. She stood in fourth place after her first eight dives, and then moved up with three quality scores on the second day of competition. Taylor’s 373.40 points trailed only champion Hailey Kessler, of Auburn, (387.30).
“I just love to dive, and I put in the time and effort,” Taylor said of the reasons behind her success. “I’m just glad to be in this group of kids. Everyone here that competes in diving, we’re all friends, and we all love each other.”
Skyline wasn’t able to keep up with KingCo Conference rival Newport, which repeated as the 4A champion with 232 points. Wenatchee was second; Gig Harbor was third.
And although the Spartans didn’t return to the apex they achieved as three-time state champions from 2009-11, earning a team trophy was a great accomplishment, senior Stephanie Munoz said.
Munoz was one of the keys, winning individual medals in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly, as well as contributing to top-eight times in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. She said last year’s squad may have had more talent, but this year’s team members made things happen with their attitude.
“Everyone was really motivated and excited, and having the girls around … it motivated me to go faster and do my best because I just love being with the team,” Munoz said.
In the 200 free, Munoz swam to fourth place in 1 minute, 55.13 seconds. She joined teammate Kathy Lin on the podium in the 100 fly; Lin was fourth in 57.30 seconds, and Munoz was sixth in 58.40.
The difference in the championship heats may have been the eye black Munoz wore.
“I needed an intimidation factor — I’m smaller than most people,” she said with a laugh.
Issaquah High School freshman Jenifer Matsuda proved to be her team’s top firepower at state. She earned medals in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, scoring 28 of 79 points for the Eagles, who finished 11th in the 4A standings.
Matsuda trimmed her preliminary-heat times in both events. In the 200 free, she swam to sixth place in 1:56.04. In the 500 free, she took fourth in 5:15.82.
Matsuda believes her year-round training in club swimming contributed to her fast times as a ninth-grader, and she was able to adjust to a difficult situation in her first state competition.
“There’s more people that are cheering for me, and it’s more pressure,” she said. “So I guess it’s more nerve-wracking (than club), but more fun and exciting.”
Matsuda also helped the Eagles score points in two relay events. Issaquah was 10th in the 200 free relay (1:42.57) and ninth in the 400 free relay (3:43.70).
Matsuda believes the Eagles may be poised for higher achievements in 2014.
“We have a lot of good freshmen this year,” she said. “We’re going to miss our seniors. I’ve only known them for the last three months, but they’ve really encouraged me and motivated me a lot, so it’s definitely sad to think of them as leaving.”
In the 3A competition, Liberty High School just missed winning a team trophy. The Patriots were fifth with 131 points. Mercer Island won its fifth title in a row, followed by Lakeside, Bainbridge and Bellevue.
Liberty junior Mackenna Briggs captured her second individual crown in three seasons, winning the 100 butterfly (55.02). Briggs, who won the 100 backstroke title as a freshman, also finished second this season in the 200 individual medley (2:04.71).
The Patriots qualified all three relays for state, and won medals in the 200 free relay (fifth, 1:41.70) and 400 free relay (fourth, 3:39.10).
Liberty’s Ellie Hohensinner and Lauryn Hepp also won individual medals. Hohensinner was sixth in the 500 free (5:12.80) and Hepp was eighth in the 100 backstroke (59.99).