Eagles soar to record heights
February 25, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Issaquah takes second at state swim meet behind win in 200-relay
Four members of the Issaquah High School swim team approached coach Laura Halter at the beginning of the season and told her they were going to do something special this year.
Gabe Florsheim, Ben Nussbaum, Henry Pratt and Jason Klein informed her that they would win the state’s 200-yard medley relay, and they’d do it in dramatic fashion.
“We looked at what the times were, what the record was, and we figured, why couldn’t we do it?” Pratt said. “Why not us?”
Even with the advanced warning, Halter was overcome with emotion when her boys did win it at the 4A state swimming championship Feb. 22 at Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center.
They even broke the meet record, swimming the race in an All-America consideration time of 1 minute, 35.91 seconds.
“When I saw their time, I fell down and started crying because I was so proud of them,” a teary-eyed Halter said.
The race, the first one of the day, was quite the way to kick off the meet, Halter said, but it would only get better from there. The Eagles rode that momentum for the rest of the tournament, culminating with a final spot on the podium as the state’s second-place team.
Issaquah came in fourth at last year’s meet, and this year finished just behind conference foe Newport.
“I wouldn’t want to lose to any other team besides Newport,” Nussbaum said. “Most of the guys on our team that swim year round train with those guys. We’ve basically grown up together.”
After the 200-medley relay, the Eagles didn’t win another race. It was the top-to-bottom depth that ultimately set the team apart.
Issaquah earned a pair of second-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 100-yard butterfly.
Nussbaum, Florsheim, Pratt and Klein combined again for the second-place relay finish in 1:28.08. Florsheim also won an individual medal with his second-place performance in the butterfly.
Klein, a sophomore, earned two individual medals. He took fourth place in the 200-yard individual medley, and fifth in the 100-yard backstroke.
Nussbaum, the relay team’s lone senior, also won two individual medals. He placed seventh in the 200-yard individual medley, and sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke.
“Being a senior, and having this all happen, it’s very emotional for me because I’m doing it with my best friends,” Nussbaum said.
It’s been a magical year, Halter said, marked by what she called one of the most cohesive teams she’s ever coached.
“One of the most special things about this team is adding the disability swimmers to our program,” Halter said. “That’s been really uplifting.”
Issaquah had three boys compete in the state meet’s two disability swims Feb. 23. Watching Trevor VanOrman, and Brian and Jason Callans swim in the 50-yard backstroke and freestyle, gave her team an extra boost, Halter said.
“Our team, seeing three of our boys doing that, really brings them a little closer together and makes us really proud of Issaquah High School,” she said.
Skyline High School senior Paul Jett wrapped up his high-school swimming career with three medals, two of them individuals, at the state meet.
Jett swam the 50-yard freestyle in 22.75, good for eighth place, before taking fifth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 52.21.
“It’s a big deal,” he said of making it to state. “It’s not really about the medals, though. It’s more about the team.”
Fellow senior Ryan Collins also took home an individual medal, earning eighth place in the 100-yard butterfly.
Skyline’s last medal came in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Nick D’Alo, Jacob Leahy, Collins and Jett placed seventh in 1:30.81.
“Being a senior, I don’t know if I would have swam my four years if it wasn’t for this great team,” Jett said. “These guys are probably my best friends.”
The Liberty High School boys swim team competed in its last state meet as a 3A school, before the Patriots jump down to 2A next year, and earned three medals.
Senior Connor Biehl finished his high school career by capturing two individual medals at the 3A meet Feb. 22.
Biehl placed fifth in the 200-yard individual medley and seventh in the 100-yard backstroke.
“It’s great, just pounding the wall and turning and looking to see I got fifth. That was my goal,” he said after the individual medley race.
Junior Nick Klatt also earned a medal, placing sixth in the 500-yard freestyle.