Soldotna's Alex Weeks is shown during the start of the girls 50 free at Saturday's state swim championships in Anchorage's Bartlett High School pool. KLAS STOLPE | JUNEAU EMPIRE

Soldotna's Alex Weeks is shown during the start of the girls 50 free at Saturday's state swim championships in Anchorage's Bartlett High School pool. KLAS STOLPE | JUNEAU EMPIRE

SoHi girls take 6th at state swimming

Suffering from a stomach bug Friday evening, Soldotna senior Alex Weeks had memories of the 2011 state swim meet come flooding back to her.

As a freshman three years ago, Weeks was one of several SoHi swimmers that came down with a sickness that slowed the Stars squad at just the wrong week of the year.

Saturday at the Bartlett High pool, however, Weeks held strong and helped propel the Soldotna girls to a sixth-place team finish in the team standings at the Alaska School Activities Association state swimming and diving meet. The Juneau girls won their second state title in a row with an even 100 points, 13 ahead of both Kodiak and Dimond. On the boys side, Dimond claimed its sixth-straight state title. The Lynx scored 110 points to best the 96 that Kodiak put up. The Soldotna boys finished seventh with 35 points.

The meet signaled the final competition for the seniors on the team, and after the final event of the day — the boys 400-yard freestyle relay — a cluster of SoHi swimmers gathered poolside to celebrate the moment. Some took pictures, some had pictures taken of them, and congratulatory words were exchanged, but all realized the gravity of the moment and embraced for the final time this season.

“There’s my team crying,” Weeks said, pointing to her teammates nearby. “We’ve spent a lot of time in hotel rooms with the team, and state this year was more about the team than my individual times. We got to hang out one more time.”

On a day that saw a handful of state records fall, teams and individuals were pushed to be at their best. In all, nine new state records were established during the weekend, six of them going to Kodiak swimmers, as Ila Hughes, Tahna Lindquist and Talon Lindquist took two apiece. Five of Saturday’s new state bests wiped out records that had stood since 1998 or before.

Tahna Lindquist was named the outstanding girls swimmer of the year, while Petersburg senior Abel Aulbach was named the same on the boys side.

When asked why he thought so many records were set, Soldotna coach Lucas Petersen said that it is only natural for times to drop about every generation of new swimmers.

“Everything gets faster and faster, or it should,” Petersen said. “It’s good to see some of the old marks that have been around for a while go down.”

Weeks represented the highest-placing swimmer among Peninsula athletes, taking the bronze medal in both the girls 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races. Her time of 23.93 seconds in the 50 free lowered her own school record, but it was still only fast enough for third place, as Kodiak’s Ila Hughes erased the 16-year-old mark by .14 seconds to take the win in 23.20 seconds. It was Hughes’ third win in the event in the last four years.

“I definitely felt better in the 50 free,” Weeks said. “Going under 24 (seconds) was my goal.”

In the 100 free, Weeks had to contend with Hughes again. Hughes broke the state record in that race too, lopping .11 seconds off her own 2012 mark with a new time of 50.51 seconds.

Weeks said her sickness left her a little more exhausted than usual.

“The second 50 (yards) was pretty rough, I was definitely feeling it at the end,” Weeks said.

Weeks was able to finish the day on a strong note in the girls 400-yard freestyle relay, picking up a position on her anchor leg that resulted in a sixth-place finish.

Weeks’ teammate, Megan English, was another senior that saw her time at SoHi come to an end in the 400 free relay. English and Weeks teamed up with Portia Padilla and Rachel Davidson to finish sixth, and the two seniors were also a part of the girls 200-yard medley relay that placed fourth. Isabell Henry took the place of Davidson in the medley relay.

English qualified for the finals in two individual events Saturday — the girls 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke, getting a top finish of fifth in the latter event with a time of 1:02.47. English took home sixth place in the 100 fly.

Coach Petersen said he was happy to see more SoHi swimmers make it to Saturday’s finals than in recent years.

“I’m glad they all got that second opportunity to swim,” Petersen said. “Especially for those seniors, they were all excited to make it to finals.”

SoHi junior David Hall led the boys with a top result of fourth in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.26 seconds. Hall said he was most happy with the result since fourth-place finishers at the state meet are still awarded medals.

“It was a little different racing at state with the pressure and competition,” Hall said. “It was a lot of fun … it pushes you to do better, because when you don’t come out on top, it makes you wanna do better for next year.”

Hall’s teammate Cody Watkins also qualified for the boys 50 free final, finishing a scant .09 seconds behind to finish sixth. Watkins also finished fifth in the boys 100 fly.

“Yesterday (in preliminaries) I had a bit of a bad race and he had a good race,” Hall said. “Today, I had the better race, so we both patted each other on the back and called it good.”

Hall’s younger brother, Jacob, took home a sixth-place finish in the 200 freestyle, slashing a full two seconds off his region time from a week earlier. David said the competition between him and his brother have pushed both of them to greater heights.

“Jacob’s always looking to beat his older brother, and I’m always looking to keep him from beating me,” Hall said.

Jacob Creglow also nabbed a sixth-place finish in the boys 100 breaststroke final, dropping his region time by .70 seconds with a time of 1:00.85, just over two seconds behind the state champion.

Kenai Central’s lone competitor Saturday was sophomore diver Mikaela Pitsch, who earned 313.6 points to finish sixth in the girls 1-meter diving contest. Pitsch’s finish garnered the Kardinals three points, placing them 16th among 18 total schools.

“I felt like I could’ve done better, but I’m really happy because last year, I was seventeenth, just one spot away from making it to state,” Pitsch said. “I’ve improved since last year, so it was a big accomplishment for me.”

Pitsch had to contend with one of Saturday’s record-breakers. The girls diving champion — Jami Stone from Eagle River — set a new state best of 474.70 points, crushing the 16-year-old record from Chugiak’s Alaina Patterson.

Unfazed, Pitsch said her best dive of the day came on something she has practiced many times before — the forward one full twist.

“Once I got that at the beginning of this summer, it’s always been there for me,” Pitsch said.

As an underclassmen, Pitsch said the expected nervous energy of attempting a perfect dive with so many eyes trained on her goes away as soon as she steps out onto the diving board. It’s a trait she has learned from Kenai coaches Will Hubler, Judy Lallier and Cole Gross, and one she hopes will one day carry her to a state title.

“Maybe if I can learn a higher (difficulty) dive, hopefully I can win one day,” she said. “My coaches tell me to stop overthinking it and just do what I do, and wow everybody.”

While Pitsch knows she will be around for a while, the finality eventually set in for the seniors scattered around the pool area at Bartlett. Coach Petersen, having experienced the final meet himself as a former state competitor, said the immediate impact of losing that experience will be felt initially, but the hole left behind by the current seniors will eventually be filled by the upcoming underclassmen.

“It’s definitely gonna be hard to see some of our seniors go,” Petersen said. “It’s always nice to have that fast anchor leg at the end of our relays, so it’ll be tough to replace them.”


ASAA/First National Bank

State swimming and diving championships 

Final results


Team scores

 1) Juneau 100; 2) tie, Kodiak and Dimond 87; 4) Chugiak 64; 5) South 43; 6) Soldotna 36. 7) West Valley 29; 8) West 25; 9) Colony 23; 10) Eagle River 18; 11) Sitka 9; 12) Ketchikan 8; 13) Valdez 7; 14) Hutchinson 5; 15) Bartlett 4; 16) North Pole 3; 16) Kenai 3; 18) Thunder Mountain 2; 18) Palmer 2. 

 200 medley relay — 1) Juneau (Kelly, Isaak, Ruffin, Walsh), 1:46.75 (new state record; old record 1:47.86, Juneau, 2007). 2) Dimond 1:52.34. 3) South 1:54.80. 4) Soldotna 1:56.68. 5) Colony 1:58.67. 6) Kodiak 2:00.27. 7) Valdez 2:00.36. 8) West Valley 2:01.06. 

 200 freestyle — 1) Burke, Samantha (Chugiak) 1:53.54. 2) Moody, Erin (Dimond) 1:55.66. 3) DeGeorge, Tara (West) 1:55.85. 4) Randall, Angie (West Valley) 1:57.97. 5) Cummiskey, Marina (Kodiak) 1:58.16. 6) Kito, Gabi (Juneau) 1:59.37. 7) Heaton, Cassidy (West Valley) 1:59.68. 8) Blackstone, Abby (Chugiak) 2:05.27. 

 200 IM — 1) Lindquist, Tahna (Kodiak) 2:03.61 (new state record; old record 2:04.98, Tahna Lindquist, Kodiak, 2014 preliminaries). 2) Oakley, Madeleine (Dimond) 2:12.82. 3) Schoff, Amber (South) 2:13.14. 4) Taylor-Roth, Abigail (Juneau) 2:15.40. 5) Moore, Skylar (Sitka) 2:16.34. 6) Hanson, Olivia (Dimond) 2:16.90. 7) Williamson, Jessica (North Pole) 2:18.86. 8) Hamrick, Kaia (Juneau) 2:24.30. 

 50 freestyle — 1) Hughes, Ila (Kodiak) 23.20 (new state record; old record 23.34, Maria Reeves, Lathrop, 1998). 2) Jennings, Emmie (Chugiak) 23.65. 3) Weeks, Alex (Soldotna) 23.93. 4) Kelly, Ciera (Juneau) 24.23. 5) Hampton, Alyssa (Dimond) 24.49. 6) Isaak, Dakota (Juneau) 24.63. 7) Sherrill, Ella (Ketchikan) 25.14. 8) Williams, Kendal (Dimond) 25.23. 

 1-meter diving — 1) Stone, Jami (Eagle River) 474.70 (new state record; old record 463.45, Alaina Patterson, Chugiak, 1998). 2) Panting, Sierra (South) 398.40. 3) Wagner, Kendall (West) 392.60. 4) Heiberg, Tessa (Kodiak) 359.30. 5) Foster, Katelyn (Colony) 317.35. 6) Pitsch, Mikaela (Kenai) 313.60. 7) Laselle, Samantha (Palmer) 282.00. 8) McIntosh, Nicole (North Pole) 279.20. 

 100 butterfly — 1) Kelly, Ciera (Juneau) 57.29. 2) Rohde, Arianna (Dimond) 58.85. 3) Ruffin, Mia (Juneau) 59.86. 4) Evershed, Elcee, HHS, 1:01.11. 5) Kito, Gabi (Juneau) 1:01.35. 6) English, Megan (Soldotna) 1:02.68. 7) Watson, Cassandra (South) 1:02.76. 8) McNelly, Riley (Valdez) 1:03.70. 

 100 freestyle — 1) Hughes, Ila (Kodiak) 50.51 (new state record; old record 50.62, Ila Hughes, Kodiak, 2012). 2) Jennings, Emmie (Chugiak) 50.80. 3) Weeks, Alex (Soldotna) 53.24. 4) Bruce, Jordyn (Eagle River) 54.13. 5) Randall, Angie (West Valley) 54.84. 6) Sherrill, Ella (Ketchikan) 55.00. 7) Brockmann, Hannah (Thunder Mountain) 55.17. 8) Williams, Kendal (Dimond) 55.56. 

 500 freestyle — 1) Lindquist, Tahna (Kodiak) 4:53.50 (new state record; old record 4:56.55, Kayla Meiergerd, Chugiak, 1998). 2) DeGeorge, Tara (West) 5:08.77. 3) Kinworthy, Sierra (Colony) 5:08.83. 4) Moody, Erin (Dimond) 5:13.12. 5) Heaton, Cassidy (West Valley) 5:17.55. 6) Blackstone, Abby (Chugiak) 5:26.94. 7) Sato, Ripple (Dimond) 5:27.08. 8) O’Brien, Kiera (Ketchikan) 5:27.40. 

 200 freestyle relay — 1) Kodiak (Cummiskey, Lindquist, Horne, Hughes), 1:37.76. 2) Chugiak 1:38.11. 3) Juneau 1:38.13. 4) Dimond 1:41.41. 5) South 1:43.90. 6) West 1:45.77. 7) West Valley 1:45.86. 8) Colony 1:46.01. 

 100 backstroke — 1) Burke, Samantha (Chugiak) 57.83. 2) Rohde, Arianna (Dimond) 58.43. 3) Schoff, Amber (South) 1:00.13. 4) Chappell, Eliza (Juneau) 1:01.10. 5) English, Megan (Soldotna) 1:02.47. 6) Kinworthy, Sierra (Colony) 1:02.50. 7) Watson, Cassandra (South) 1:04.21. 8) Hanson, Olivia (Dimond) 1:04.32. 

 100 breaststroke — 1) Isaak, Dakota (Juneau) 1:06.41. 2) Ruffin, Mia (Juneau) 1:08.44. 3) Oakley, Madeleine (Dimond) 1:08.55. 4) Moore, Skylar (Sitka) 1:08.77. 5) Bruce, Jordyn (Eagle River) 1:09.27. 6) Taylor-Roth, Abigail (Juneau) 1:09.41. 7) McNelly, Riley (Valdez) 1:12.78. 8) Henry, Rachel (Soldotna) 1:13.35.

 400 freestyle relay — 1) Kodiak (Cummiskey, Lindquist, Horne, Hughes), 3:33.22. 2) Chugiak 3:36.56. 3) Dimond 3:42.78. 4) Juneau 3:44.18. 5) West Valley 3:48.03. 6) Soldotna 3:49.53. 7) Bartlett 3:51.13. 8) Ketchikan 3:55.85. 


Team scores

 1) Dimond 110. 2) Kodiak 96. 3) Service 57. 4) Petersburg 50. 5) Thunder Mountain 46. 6) Colony 39. 7) Soldotna 35. 8) Eagle River 29. 9, Sitka 22. 10, West Valley 20. 10, South 20. 12) Lathrop 10. 13) Wasilla 9. 14) Chugiak 4. 15) Ketchikan 3. 15) Palmer 3. 17) North Pole 2. 

 200 medley relay — 1) Kodiak (Lincoln, James, Anderson, Schauff), 1:37.28. 2) Dimond 1:38.20. 3) Thunder Mountain 1:38.60. 4) Eagle River 1:39.51. 5) Colony 1:39.94. 7) Sitka 1:43.86. 8) Petersburg 1:54.16. 

 200 freestyle — 1) Summers, Michael (Dimond) 1:41.91. 2) O’Brien, Jarod (Dimond) 1:44.89. 3) Pate, Will (Sitka) 1:46.71. 4) Davis, Jorden (Thunder Mountain) 1:47.47. 5) James, Blake (Kodiak) 1:49.07. 6) Hall, Jacob (Soldotna) 1:49.25. 7) Alfano, Nathan (Dimond) 1:50.35. 8) Bloom, Zach (Colony) 1:51.01. 

 200 IM — 1) Lindquist, Talon (Kodiak) 1:52.01 (new state record; old record 1:53.51, John Rogers, Lathrop, 1995). 2) Fox, Kenny (Thunder Mountain) 1:54.85. 3) Adams, Nathaniel (Service) 1:55.23. 4) Hanni, Jacob (Dimond) 1:58.35. 5) Anderson, Joseph (Colony) 1:58.36. 6) Emili, Ryan (South) 1:59.93. 7) Simmons, Jake (Colony) 2:00.17. 8) O’Donoghue, Tommy (West Valley) 2:01.28. 

 50 freestyle — 1) Aulbach, Abel (Petersburg) 21.13. 2) Hogue-Corwin, EZ (Service) 21.37. 3) O’Brien, Thane (Thunder Mountain) 22.14. 4) Hall, David (Soldotna) 22.26. 5) Lai, Nathan (South) 22.31. 6) Watkins, Cody (Soldotna) 22.35. 7) Schauff, Nathan (Kodiak) 22.65. 8) Anderson, Jonas (Kodiak) 23.12. 

 1-meter diving — 1) Schachle, Brayden, Wwhs, 462.95. 2) Desatoff, Austin (Dimond) 461.95. 3) Cambell, Zach (Lathrop) 461.75. 4) Knutson, Connor (South) 411.10. 5) Fugere, Shawn (Chugiak) 406.25. 6) Waldhaus, Gabe (Palmer) 395.75. 7) Lord, Colby (Colony) 373.70. 8) Ulatan, Ruben (Kodiak) 343.35. 

 100 butterfly — 1) Fox, Kenny (Thunder Mountain) 50.33. 2) Fox-Icarro, Blaise (Eagle River) 53.24. 3) Alfano, Nathan (Dimond) 53.27. 4) Simmons, Jake (Colony) 53.91. 5) Watkins, Cody (Soldotna) 54.40. 6) Marsh, Evan (Petersburg) 54.45. 7) Anderson, Jonas (Kodiak) 54.58. 8) Nicholson, Ryan (West Valley) 54.67. 

 100 freestyle — 1) Aulbach, Abel (Petersburg) 44.90 (new state record; old record 46.27, Derek Gibb, Petersburg, 1998). 2) Adams, Nathaniel (Service) 46.52. 3) Hogue-Corwin, EZ (Service) 46.76. 4) Schauff, Dyton (Kodiak) 48.15. 5) Lai, Nathan (South) 48.59. 6) Hall, David (Soldotna) 49.17. 7) McCord, Corbin (Ketchikan) 49.77. 8) Dittlinger, Reed (Dimond) 50.61. 

 500 freestyle — 1) Summers, Michael (Dimond) 4:36.59. 2) Pate, Will (Sitka) 4:46.85. 3) Hanni, Jacob (Dimond) 4:49.98. 4) Davis, Jorden (Thunder Mountain) 4:54.73. 5) Suleimani, Alex (Lathrop) 4:56.84. 6) Rogers, Jonah (Service) 4:56.92. 7) Bloom, Zach (Colony) 5:00.82. 8) Hammersland, Logan (Ketchikan) 5:09.65.

 200 freestyle relay — 1) Kodiak (Lindquist, Schauff, James, Schauff), 1:26.71. 2) Service 1:27.59. 3) Dimond 1:28.62. 4) Petersburg 1:29.19. 5) Eagle River 1:29.53. 6) Soldotna 1:30.04. 7) South 1:30.60. 8) West Valley 1:31.55. 

 100 backstroke — 1) Lindquist, Talon (Kodiak) 51.89. 2) Marsh, Evan (Petersburg) 52.50. 3) Lincoln, Nicholas (Kodiak) 53.40. 4) Dittlinger, Reed (Dimond) 54.00. 5) Schauff, Dyton (Kodiak) 54.41. 6) O’Donoghue, Tristan (West Valley) 54.72. 7) Jones, Trevor (Thunder Mountain) 55.57. 8) Harang, Brady (Sitka) 57.62. 

 100 breaststroke — 1) Anderson, Joseph (Colony) 58.76. 2) O’Donoghue, Tommy (West Valley) 58.79. 3) O’Brien, Jarod (Dimond) 59.97. 4) James, Blake (Kodiak) 1:00.19. 5) Carpenter, Bryce (Eagle River) 1:00.80. 6) Creglow, Jacob (Soldotna) 1:00.85. 7) Hoen, Jack (Dimond) 1:01.50. 8) Cvancara, Luke (Dimond) 1:03.56. 

 400 freestyle relay — 1) Dimond (Summers, Hanni, Alfano, O’Brien), 3:10.93. 2) Service 3:11.53. 3) Kodiak 3:15.49. 4) Petersburg 3:17.09. 5) Soldotna 3:19.31. 6) Colony 3:25.05. 7) Sitka 3:25.14. 8) North Pole 3:35.22.

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