Soldotna’s Kylin Welch pulls off a move in the boys 1-meter diving event Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Kylin Welch pulls off a move in the boys 1-meter diving event Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Area swimmers, divers take on state’s best for championships

Hundreds of piercing screams muffled the sound of splashing water in the the warm, humid air inside the Bartlett High School pool Saturday afternoon at the ASAA First National Bank Swimming and Diving state championships.

In the closing seconds of the girls 50-yard freestyle race, Soldotna junior Sydney Juliussen frantically worked to make up the small gap she trailed by.

Ultimately, Juliussen came up short by just .14 of a second, essentially the blink of an eye.

So close, yet so far.

Juliussen, however, didn’t let that get her down.

“I’m just really happy I made it out of eighth place,” she exclaimed after the race, which followed two years of seventh and eighth place finishes in the event. “I gave it my all.”

Bartlett’s Wanlaya Jarupakorn won in a time of 24.60 seconds, while Juliussen clocked in at 24.74, just out of reach of SoHi’s first state title in 14 years.

Instead, the Stars will have to wait another year to break the drought, which extends all the way back to Abby Kiffmeyer’s state crowns in the girls 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke.

On a day that celebrated the culmination of a season’s worth of hard work, the runner-up finish was the highest result among peninsula athletes at the meet, and it helped the Soldotna girls finish sixth in the team standings with 31 points. The Homer girls finished seventh with 30 points.

The Dimond Lynx claimed the girls team title with 97 points, edging out runner-up Kodiak by five points.

The boys team race was even closer, with Thunder Mountain nipping second-place Dimond by three points, 94 to 91.

Kenai Central took sixth with 33 points, SoHi was 18th with five points and Seward got one point out of its lone state qualifier, Connor Spanos, to finish 22nd.

Other high finishes included Kenai junior Savaii Heaven’s third-place in the boys 100-yard backstroke, and Homer freshman Madison Story’s third in the girls 100-yard breaststroke.

The Kenai Central boys also ended up third in the 200-yard medley relay, but only after two disqualifications ahead of them after originally touching the wall fifth.

Juliussen said over the course of the season, she works out three times a day during the school week, and races on weekends. The high workload paid dividends in Saturday’s finals.

“I’m blown away with how good I’ve been doing,” Juliussen said.

Juliussen finished fifth in her other final of the day, the girls 100 free, with a time of 54.88 seconds. She said the longer freestyle event was not her best time after hitting 54 seconds flat at the Region III meet one week prior, but it was all her body had.

“I locked up,” Juliussen said. “I tried to push it extra.”

Homer freshman phenom Madison Story also ended the day with a podium finish, in the girls 100-yard breaststroke, touching the wall at 1:08.55, over three seconds behind Skylar Moore of Sitka. Story also had a fifth-place finish in the girls 200-yard IM.

At a young age, Story said a love of the sport helped put her where she is now. She said she had no idea before the season began months earlier that a state podium was possible for her.

“It’s been my life,” Story explained. “I haven’t done any other sport.”

A strong showing at the Region III meet last week, which included podiums in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM, helped give Story the confidence and encouragement that she could challenge for a state podium.

Swimming also runs in the family. Story’s mother, Corise Bittner, competed at the University of San Diego in her days as a swimmer, and Story said it was one of her goals to topple her mother’s personal best in the 100 breaststroke.

“I wanted to go a little faster in the IM, but oh well,” she said.

Story was also part of the Homer girls 200 freestyle relay that broke the Mariners school record. Story combined with Alia Bales, Ella Blanton-Yourkowski and Adeline Berry to beat the old girls record by a scant .02 seconds, a new time of 1:41.84 to finish fourth overall.

Soldotna junior Kylin Welch matched his fourth-place finish in the boys 1-meter diving from a year ago with a trio of solid dives, receiving 436.85 points to finish fourth, behind the 508.05 won by Bartlett’s Ethan Larson. Welch said his total of 475.1 from the Region III meet last week left him feeling just a bit anxious about the state meet.

“I was a little off compared to regions,” Welch said.

In his third year of diving, Welch say a top-three finish was his goal, and credited diving coach Dennis Reger for helping him make it to the finals.

After a “stressful” season of work to make it to state, Welch said putting on the headphones and listening to pump-up music helps put him in the competitive zone.

“I like to take myself out of what I’m doing,” he said.

Welch said his second dive, an inward 1 1/2 tuck, could have used a little more height off the board, and his third, an inward 2 1/2 maneuver, could have used more kick out from the board.

Savaii Heaven finished the day with bragging rights in his family. Heaven’s older brother, Winter, is the first-year head coach of the Kenai program, and a 53.72-second result by Savaii in the boys 100 backstroke helped beat his brother’s old school record.

“You’re always wondering if you’re going to be as fast as your brother,” Heaven said.

In the end, he was, and it resulted in a podium finish of third. Savaii said Winter’s coaching this year helped him improve. Before the season began, Heaven was anticipating his top times in the 55-second range for the 100 backstroke, but his turns at the walls helped him eclipse that goal by two seconds.

“My brother really worked with me on my walls,” he said. “That was my biggest issue.”

Heaven also notched a sixth-place finish Saturday in the boys 100 free, while senior teammate Hunter Reese finished fifth in the boys 50 free and seventh in the 100 butterfly in his final attempt.

The Kardinal teammates were joined by Rolph Owen and Trevor Bagley to finish third in the boys 200 medley and 400 free relays, respectively.

2017 ASAA State Swimming &Diving State Championships

Bartlett High School Pool, Anchorage, AK

GIRLS

Team Scores — 1, Dimond, 97. 2, Kodiak, 92. 3, Sitka, 86. 4, Chugiak, 37. 4, South Anchorage, 37. 6, Soldotna, 31. 7, Homer, 30. 8, Palmer, 23. 8, West Valley, 23. 10, Colony, 22. 11, Bartlett, 18. 12, Eagle River, 12. 12, Lathrop, 12. 14, Wasilla, 11. 15, West Anchorage, 5. 16, Monroe, 4. 16, Thunder Mountain, 4. 18, Juneau Douglas, 3. 18, Ketchikan, 3. 20, Hutchinson, 1.

Girls 200 Yard Medley Relay — 1, Kodiak (Marina Cummiskey , Leslie Spear , Devon Cummiskey, Hannah Glover), 1:49.22. 2, Sitka, 1:49.27. 3, Dimond, 1:53.52. 4, Homer, 1:53.86.

Girls 200 Yard Freestyle — 1, Marina Cummiskey, KHS, 1:53.22. 2, Erin Moody, DHS, 1:54.91. 3, Skylar Moore, SITKA, 1:58.08. 4, Emma Cegelka, DHS, 1:59.21.

Girls 200 Yard IM — 1, Jessica Davis, SITKA, 2:11.00. 2, Summer Cheng, SAHS, 2:11.47. 3, Camille Dayton, COLHS, 2:12.59. 4, Devon Cummiskey, KHS, 2:13.52.

Girls 50 Yard Freestyle — 1, Wanlaya Jarupakorn, BHS, 24.60. 2, Sydney Juliussen, SOHI, 24.74. 3, Gretchen Snelders, PHS, 24.80. 4, Katy McCarther, LHS, 24.82.

Girls 1 mtr Diving — 1, Chloe Hartman, PHS, 380.95. 2, Jayde Chan, WW, 377.65. 3, Madison Cook, SAHS, 364.90. 4, Eileen Cyr, COLHS, 336.85.

Girls 100 Yard Butterfly — 1, Marina Cummiskey, KHS, 57.77. 2, Wanlaya Jarupakorn, BHS, 57.85. 3, Devon Cummiskey, KHS, 58.40. 4, Summer Cheng, SAHS, 58.98.

Girls 100 Yard Freestyle — 1, Erin Moody, DHS, 52.91. 2, Katy McCarther, LHS, 53.70. 3, Emma Cegelka, DHS, 54.19. 4, Cheyenne Burke, CHS, 54.28.

Girls 500 Yard Freestyle — 1, Camryn Williams, DHS, 5:23.30. 2, Grace Harang, SITKA, 5:24.28. 3, Emi Soldwedel, DHS, 5:24.52. 4, Gretchen Snelders, PHS, 5:24.90.

Girls 200 Yard Freestyle Relay — 1, Sitka (Whitney McArthur, Kyleigh McArthur, Jessica Davis, Skylar Moore), 1:39.26. 2, Dimond, 1:39.37. 3, Kodiak, 1:41.35. 4, Homer, 1:41.84.

Girls 100 Yard Backstroke — 1, Jessica Davis, SITKA, 58.81. 2, Cheyenne Burke, CHS, 1:00.61. 3, Aubrey Cheng, SAHS, 1:01.66. 4, Ellie Mercer, ERHS, 1:02.04.

Girls 100 Yard Breaststroke — 1, Skylar Moore, SITKA, 1:05.43. 2, Patty Eppingher, WVHS, 1:08.42. 3, Madison Story, HOMER, 1:08.55. 4, Anastasia Chen, WVHS, 1:09.05.

Girls 400 Yard Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Emma Cegelka, Mikayla Terry, Breckynn Willis, Erin Moody), 3:37.33. 2, Kodiak, 3:44.24. 3, Soldotna, 3:47.69. 4, South Anchorage, 3:48.73.

BOYS

Team Scores — 1, Thunder Mountain, 94. 2, Dimond, 91. 3, Kodiak, 64. 4, Colony, 61. 5, Service, 56. 6, Kenai Central, 33. 6, Eagle River, 33. 8, Wasilla, 18. 9, Lathrop, 13. 9, Sitka, 13. 11, Palmer, 10. 12, Hutchinson, 9. 12, Bartlett, 9. 14, South Anchorage, 8. 14, West Valley, 8. 16, North Pole, 6. 16, West Anchorage, 6. 18, Soldotna, 5. 19, Juneau Douglas, 3. 19, Chugiak, 3. 19, Petersburg, 3. 22, Seward, 1.

Boys 200 Yard Medley Relay — 1, Thunder Mountain (Casey Hamilton , Bergen Davis , Spencer Holt , Chris Ray ), 1:36.47. 2, Service, 1:38.28. 3, Kenai Central, 1:42.39. 4, Dimond, 1:42.99.

Boys 200 Yard Freestyle — 1, Maximus Addington, DHS, 1:41.67. 2, Alex Suleimani, LHS, 1:42.09. 3, Spencer Holt, TMHS, 1:42.26. 4, Max Snelders, PHS, 1:44.28.

Boys 200 Yard IM — 1, Talon Lindquist, KHS, 1:50.08. 2, Bergen Davis, TMHS, 1:53.07. 3, Casey Hamilton, TMHS, 1:53.21. 4, John Heaphy, ERHS, 1:59.09.

Boys 50 Yard Freestyle — 1, Reed Dittlinger, DHS, 20.48. 2, Caleb Law, SHS, 20.80. 3, Gabe Vestri Giovanni, COLHS, 21.53. 4, Samuel Horning, ERHS, 21.57.

Boys 1 mtr Diving — 1, Ethan Larson, BHS, 508.05. 2, Tanner Belliston, COLHS, 472.00. 3, Holt Dannenberg, WHS, 456.60. 4, Kylin Welch, SOHI, 436.85.

Boys 100 Yard Butterfly — 1, Talon Lindquist, KHS, 49.41. 2, Jake Simmons, COLHS, 49.50. 3, Spencer Holt, TMHS, 49.57. 4, Reed Dittlinger, DHS, 49.78.

Boys 100 Yard Freestyle — 1, Caleb Law, SHS, 46.27. 2, Gabe Vestri Giovanni, COLHS, 46.47. 3, Maximus Addington, DHS, 46.67. 4, Max Snelders, PHS, 46.74.

Boys 500 Yard Freestyle — 1, Raymie Matiashowski, TMHS, 4:52.62. 2, Chris Ray, TMHS, 4:54.26. 3, Daniel Smith, KHS, 4:55.11. 4, Andrew Walch, DHS, 4:55.15.

Boys 200 Yard Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Maximus Addington, Jesse Tatakis, Nate Flores, Reed Dittlinger), 1:26.35. 2, Colony, 1:28.05. 3, Eagle River, 1:29.24. 4, Kodiak, 1:29.90.

Boys 100 Yard Backstroke — 1, Casey Hamilton, TMHS, 51.10. 2, Jake Simmons, COLHS, 51.17. 3, Savaii Heaven, KCHS, 53.72. 4, Brian Jarupakorn, SHS, 54.59.

Boys 100 Yard Breaststroke — 1, Bergen Davis, TMHS, 57.42. 2, John Heaphy, ERHS, 57.68. 3, Alex Suleimani, LHS, 58.61. 4, Anders Hocum, KHS, 1:00.12.

Boys 400 Yard Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Reed Dittlinger, Jesse Tatakis, Andrew Walch, Maximus Addington), 3:10.34. 2, Thunder Mountain, 3:11.27. 3, Kodiak, 3:12.82. 4, Colony, 3:14.10.

Kenai Central’s Trevor Bagley races the breaststroke leg of the boys 200-yard medley relay Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Trevor Bagley races the breaststroke leg of the boys 200-yard medley relay Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Savaii Heaven races to the third-place finish in the boys 100-yard backstroke Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Savaii Heaven races to the third-place finish in the boys 100-yard backstroke Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Sydney Juliussen competes in the girls 50-yard freestyle Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. Juliussen finished second to lead all peninsula finishers on the day. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Sydney Juliussen competes in the girls 50-yard freestyle Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. Juliussen finished second to lead all peninsula finishers on the day. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Madison Story races in the girls 200-yard Individual Medley Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Madison Story races in the girls 200-yard Individual Medley Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Madison Story races in the girls 200-yard Individual Medley Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Madison Story races in the girls 200-yard Individual Medley Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Alia Bales races the opening leg of the girls 200-yard freestyle relay Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Alia Bales races the opening leg of the girls 200-yard freestyle relay Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Connor Spanos races in the boys 100-yard butterfly final Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Connor Spanos races in the boys 100-yard butterfly final Saturday at the ASAA First National Bank State Swimming & Diving Championships at the Bartlett High pool. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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