Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Cody Watkins competes in the 100-yard butterfly Saturday at the state swimming and diving meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Cody Watkins competes in the 100-yard butterfly Saturday at the state swimming and diving meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

SoHi’s Watkins gets pair of 2nds at state swim meet

The range of emotions on display Saturday at the Alaska Schools Activities Association state swimming and diving championships could have made for a nice Hollywood movie.

Held at the Bartlett High School pool, the season-ending state meet featured exciting finishes, passionate fans, tears of joy and sadness, as well as relief of having no more early morning practices to attend.

However, the big trophies were ultimately handed out to the same school.

The Dimond Lynx cruised to both team championships with comfortable victories. The Dimond boys racked up 104.5 points, better than runner-up Kodiak’s 81.5, and the Dimond girls scored 105, better than second-place Juneau’s 74.

The Soldotna boys led the way for Peninsula teams, capturing third-place honors among 19 schools with 66 points, while the SoHi girls tied for eighth with Kodiak, as both squads had 25 points.

Chugiak’s Emmie Jennings and Kodiak’s Talon Lindquist were awarded Outstanding Female and Male, respectively.

For senior Claire McElroy, the moment was bittersweet. The breaststroke specialist, who qualified for state both years she competed on the swim team, embraced her teammates in a hug at the conclusion of Saturday’s events after completing the girls 100-yard breaststroke final.

“I didn’t final last year, so this was better,” McElroy said.

Last weekend at the region meet, McElroy broke the SoHi school girls record in the event with a 1:08.40. Saturday at Bartlett, McElroy could only manage 1:09.55, good for fourth place.

But, that was part of the plan for the SoHi girls, which made the decision to peak at the region meet in order to win the team title.

They did, but it also may have cost the Stars a bit of speed at state.

“Today the goal was to just go as hard as you can,” McElroy said. “I was maybe hoping to podium, but I’m still happy with it.”

McElroy also said she is satisfied with the 200 medley relay, for which she was tasked with taking care of the breaststroke leg and helped with a fourth-place finish. McElroy was joined by teammates Rachel Davidson, Portia Padilla and Sydney Juliussen.

For SoHi junior Cody Watkins, the possibility of another year awaits him. Watkins was second in both individual events with personal bests — the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly — and joined brothers David and Jacob Hall and Jacob Creglow on two relays. Watkins said his butterfly was his most improved with a time of 51.82 seconds.

“I started this weekend at a 53.1,” Watkins said. “My mom always said to give the people ahead of you a good run for their money.”

While the drop of nearly a second was impressive, Watkins said he thought he mistimed his lunge to the wall on his first lap, which likely cost him an even greater PR.

“I have a certain amount of strokes I take before I hit the wall, and I didn’t hit it,” Watkins said. “I glided into the wall too long, and that took a bunch of momentum away.”

In the 50 free, Watkins swam to a new PR of 21.67 seconds, behind only winner Nathan Adams’ mark of 21.02.

For Kenai Central junior Mikaela Pitsch, the anticipation comes in getting the chance to return for another go at the state podium. Pitsch finished eighth in the girls 1-meter diving contest, with a score of 258 points. While the performance was not as impressive as she was hoping for, Pitsch said she just did not want to lose by .05 points, like she did at last week’s Region III meet.

“Last week at regions, I got second by almost the closest margin possible,” Pitsch said.

A week after regions, Pitsch said she continued to replay a quote in her head, “The winner fights the same fight twice, but the loser goes back to the drawing board.”

Pitsch also said Kenai assistant coach Cole Gross was sending encouragement via text message, including one that read, “You don’t need luck. Go out there and make all those hours worth it.”

“I really stepped out of my comfort zone this year,” she said. “Today was a little off because my coach (Cole Gross) wasn’t here today.”

After last year, Pitsch decided to improve her score by attempting dives with higher degrees of difficulty. The goal was to make the podium, but with two new dives, she had no idea where she would end up.

“That didn’t happen until after regions, so I completed my forward double today and yesterday in prelims,” Pitsch said. “They weren’t the best, but I’ve got them done.”

Pitsch began her routine with a backward somersault, then proceeded with a forward dive pike before finishing with a new dive called the forward double, which carried a 2.2 degree of difficulty.

Another diver that appears will have future success is Kylan Welch, a SoHi freshman who finished an astonishing fifth in the boys diving final.

“It was a little hard to focus, but it’s my freshman year, I’ve got three more years,” Welch said. “I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Welch came into the season with no prior diving experience. With three more years on the horizon, Welch said he hopes to return again and give SoHi a run at its first individual state crown since 2003.

“It’s definitely awesome being in the finals as a freshman,” Welch said. “I just wanted to go as far as I could get.”

Welch started with a forward 2 1-2 somersault, continued with a back dive straight, and finished with a difficult inward double, a dive that carries a 2.8 degree of difficulty.

“This board (at Bartlett) has an uphill slant, so it kind of pulls you in,” Welch said. “And you’re jumping off backwards, instead of forwards.”

In the 200 free relay, the Stars came up just short of the 1:28.1 school record, missing the mark by just a few tenths at 1:28.27.

However, the boys 400 free relay finished third and erased the old school record with a 3:13.83, breaking the 2002 mark of 3:14.89. SoHi coach Lucas Petersen praised Watkins’ anchor leg effort of 46.49 seconds for getting the job done.

“I’ll take that any day,” Petersen happily said.

Petersen also lauded his two girls freestyle relays, pointing out that the 200 free team features two freshman and the 400 free team has two freshman and two sophomores.

Petersen and the rest of the Soldotna squad received a scare midway through the meet when officials called him to the timing stand to discuss possible disqualifications for race suit discrepancies. Other teams had been questioned about the size of apparel logos on the suits, which did not conform to ASAA rules.

However, Petersen and the Stars soon had their worries put to rest when the suits being used were given the OK.

“I’m just proud of all the kids and the work they’ve put in this year,” Petersen said. “It’s good to see it pay off.”

Also for SoHi, David Hall took eighth in the 50 free with a time of 22.73 seconds and sixth in the 100 free in 49.06 seconds. Jacob Hall was fifth in the 200 freestyle and third in the 500 free with a time of 4:52.57. Jacob Creglow was fourth in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 breaststroke. Juliussen finished seventh in the girls 50 free with a time of 25.61.

Ian Hall took home the lone Homer boys final score in the boys diving event, finishing eighth with a score of 297.55 points. Homer’s Laura Kuhns made to the girls 500 freestyle final and finished eighth in 5:36.53.

State swimming
and diving championships

Held at Bartlett High School

Girls team scores: 1, Dimond 105. 2, Juneau 74. 3, Chugiak 72. 4, Sitka 49. 5, West Valley 46. 6, Eagle River 38. 7, Bartlett 26. 8, Soldotna 25. 8, Kodiak 25. 10, Colony 24. 11, West 23. 12, South 22. 13, Ketchikan 10. 14, Hutchinson 8. 15, Palmer 6. 16, tie, Homer and Kenai Central 1.

Boys team scores: 1, Dimond 104.5. 2, Kodiak 81.5. 3, Soldotna 66. 4, Service 52. 5, Eagle River 45. 6, South 41. 7, Sitka 38. 8, Colony 30. 9, Thunder Mountain 19. 10, Lathrop 14. 11, West Valley 13. 12, Palmer 10. 13, Wasilla 9. 13, Ketchikan 9. 15, Chugiak 8. 16, Bartlett 6. 17, Juneau 3. 18, Hutchinson 2. 19, Homer 1.

Final results

Girls 200 Yard Medley Relay — 1, Juneau (Chappell, Eliza, Ruffin, Mia, Kito, Gabi, Mulgrew-Truitt, Andyn), 1:49.60. 2, Chugiak 1:50.53. 3, Dimond 1:53.21. 4, Soldotna 1:53.28. 5, Sitka 1:54.02. 6, Colony 1:55.03. 7, South 1:56.94. 8, Hutchinson 1:59.35.

Boys 200 Medley Relay — 1, Dimond(Dittlinger, Reed, Hoen, Jack, Alfano, Nathan, O’Brien, Jaro ), 1:36.29. 2, Eagle River 1:39.42. 3, Sitka 1:42.07. 4, South 1:42.12. 5, Kodiak 1:44.34. 6, 1:44.38. 7, West Valley 1:45.31.

Girls 200 Freestyle — 1, Cummiskey, Marina (Kodiak) 1:54.93. 2, Moody, Erin (Dimond) 1:56.14. 3, Moore, Skylar (Sitka) 1:56.47. 4, Randall, Angie (West Valley) 1:58.35. 5, Kito, Gabi (Juneau) 1:59.65. 6, Williams, Camryn (Dimond) 2:00.19. 7, Beverlin, Jenna (Bartlett) 2:01.77. 8, Sato, Ripple (Dimond) 2:03.41.

Boys 200 Freestyle — 1, Lindquist, Talon (Kodiak) 1:40.60. 2, Suleimani, Alex (Lathrop) 1:42.84. 3, Pate, Will (Sitka) 1:44.24. 4, Emili, Ryan (South) 1:45.48. 5, Hall, Jacob (Soldotna) 1:45.53. 6, Alfano, Nathan (Dimond) 1:46.24. 7, Addington, Maximus (Dimond) 1:46.63. 8, Holt, Spencer (Thunder Mountain) 1:49.66.

Girls 200 IM — 1, Ruffin, Mia (Juneau) 2:09.23. 2, Oakley, Madeleine (Dimond) 2:10.03. 3, DeGeorge, Tara (West) 2:12.09. 4, Hanson, Olivia (Dimond) 2:15.36. 5, Bruce, Jordyn (Eagle River) 2:15.42. 6, Snelders, Millie (Palmer) 2:17.64. 7, Jarupakorn, Wanlaya (Bartlett) 2:20.19. 8, Shannon, Alex (South) 2:21.57.

Boys 200 IM — 1, O’Brien, Jarod (Dimond) 1:54.55. 2, Davis, Bergen (Thunder Mountain) 1:57.24. 3, Anderson, Joseph (Colony) 1:59.68. 4, Creglow, Jacob (Soldotna) 2:01.30. 5, James, Luke (Kodiak) 2:03.68. 6, Anderson, Baxter (Kodiak) 2:03.87. 7, Hoen, Jack (Dimond) 2:05.08. 8, Seid, Aidan (Juneau) 2:05.45.

Girls 50 Freestyle — 1, Jennings, Emmie (Chugiak) 23.42. 2, Powers, Izzy (Chugiak) 24.24. 3, O’Brien, Kiera (Ketchikan) 24.82. 4, Min, Esther (Eagle River) 25.16. 5, Angaiak, Abigail (West Valley) 25.46. 6, Hampton, Alyssa (Dimond) 25.60. 7, Juliussen, Sydney (Soldotna) 25.61. 8, Toussaint, Yanne (Colony) 25.73.

Boys 50 Freestyle — 1, Adams, Nathanial (Service) 21.02. 2, Watkins, Cody (Soldotna) 21.67. 3, Law, Caleb (Service) 22.17. 4, Snelders, Max (Palmer) 22.32. 5, Schauff, Nathan (Kodiak) 22.54. 6, Min, Joseph (Eagle River) 22.65. 7, Hall, David (Soldotna) 22.73.

Girls 1-meter diving — 1, Stone, Jami (Eagle River) 482.75. 2, Trueb, Savana (South) 377.75. 3, Wagner, Kendall (West) 369.50. 4, Lockard, Lara (Dimond) 329.55. 5, Cook, Madison (South) 326.00. 6, Cyr, Eileen (Colony) 324.90. 7, Micael, Elianah (Kodiak) 273.15. 8, Pitsch, Mikaela (Kenai) 258.00.

Boys 1-meter diving — 1, Schachle, Brayden (Wasilla) 491.35. 2, Belliston, Tanner (Colony) 417.90. 3, Larson, Ethan (Bartlett) 395.00. 4, Waldhaus, Gabe (Palmer) 370.85. 5, Welch, Kylan (Soldotna) 338.15. 6, Rhein, Kegan (Ketchikan) 321.90. 7, Zimmerman, Robert (Colony) 307.80. 8, Hall, Ian (Homer) 297.55.

Girls 100 Butterfly — 1, Min, Esther (Eagle River) 57.70. 2, Dayton, Camille (Colony) 59.27. 3, Evershed, Elcee, HUTCH, 59.34. 4, Jarupakorn, Wanlaya (Bartlett) 1:00.15. 5, Kito, Gabi (Juneau) 1:00.97. 6, Watson, Cassie (South) 1:01.83. 7, Willis, Tatumn (Dimond) 1:02.66. 8, Cummiskey, Devon (Kodiak) 1:03.78.

Boys 100 Butterfly — 1, Lindquist, Talon (Kodiak) 50.05. 2, Watkins, Cody (Soldotna) 51.82. 3, Simmons, Jake (Colony) 52.16. 4, Holt, Spencer (TM) 52.47. 5, Alfano, Nathan (Dimond) 52.51. 6, Addington, Maximus (Dimond) 54.12. 7, Wolcott, John (South) 55.58. 8, Min, Joseph (Eagle River) 56.36.

Girls 100 Freestyle — 1, Jennings, Emmie (Chugiak) 51.01. 2, Cummiskey, Marina (Kodiak) 53.57. 3, Davis, Jessica (Sitka) 53.66. 4, Bruce, Jordyn (ER) 53.91. 5, Williams, Kendal (Dimond) 54.98. 6, Burke, Cheyenne (Chugiak) 54.99. 7, Toussaint, Yanne (Colony) 55.18. 8, Walsh, Rielly (Juneau) 56.35.

Boys 100 Freestyle — 1, Adams, Nathanial (Service) 46.56. 2, Dittlinger, Reed (Dimond) 47.69. 3, Emili, Ryan (South) 48.24. 4, Fox-Icarro, Bryce (Eagle River) 48.28. 5, Schauff, Nathan (Kodiak) 48.94. 6, Hall, David (Soldotna) 49.06. 7, James, Luke (Kodiak) 49.88. 7, Chung, Christopher (Dimond) 49.88.

Girls 500 Freestyle — 1, DeGeorge, Tara (West) 5:10.84. 2, Randall, Angie (WV) 5:14.70. 3, Moody, Erin (Dimond) 5:17.27. 4, Williams, Camryn (Dimond) 5:18.07. 5, O’Brien, Kiera (Ket) 5:21.95. 6, Sato, Ripple (Dimond) 5:28.64. 7, Keyes, Taylor (WV) 5:30.70. 8, Kuhns, Lauren (Homer) 5:36.53.

Boys 500 Freestyle — 1, Pate, Will (Sitka) 4:39.83. 2, Suleimani, Alex (Lathrop) 4:40.09. 3, Hall, Jacob (Soldotna) 4:52.57. 4, Lambert, Dan (Kodiak) 4:57.00. 5, Walch, Andrew (Dimond) 5:00.68. 6, Smith, Daniel (Kodiak) 5:01.63. 7, Blackstone, Reid (Chugiak) 5:01.69. 8, Loudon, Christopher (Dimond) 5:07.35.

Girls 200 Freestyle Relay — 1, Chugiak (Powers, Izzy, Cockreham, Leslie, Burke, Cheyenne, Jennings, Emmie), 1:38.84. 2, Dimond 1:39.93. 3, West Valley 1:41.38. 4, Juneau 1:42.83. 4, Bartlett 1:42.83. 6, Eagle River 1:42.99. 7, Soldotna 1:44.34. 8, West 1:45.06.

Boys 200 Freestyle Relay — 1, Service (Law, Caleb, Bruce, Nikolaus, Powers, Sam, Adams, Nathanial), 1:27.32. 2, Kodiak 1:28.13. 3, Soldotna 1:28.27. 4, Dimond 1:30.16. 5, South 1:30.64. 6, Sitka 1:31.25. 7, Eagle River 1:32.89. 8, Hutchinson 1:34.44.

Girls 100 Backstroke — 1, Davis, Jessica (Sitka) 58.30. 2, Powers, Izzy (Chugiak) 59.27. 3, Chappell, Eliza (Juneau) 1:00.17. 4, Burke, Cheyenne (Chugiak) 1:01.10. 5, Angaiak, Abigail (West Valley) 1:01.15. 6, Shannon, Alex (South) 1:01.20. 7, Dayton, Camille (Colony) 1:02.27. 8, Hanson, Olivia (Dimond) 1:03.84.

Boys 100 Backstroke — 1, Dittlinger, Reed (Dimond) 52.43. 2, O’Donoghue, Tristan (West Valley) 53.05. 3, Fox-Icarro, Bryce (Eagle River) 54.62. 4, Harang, Brady (Sitka) 55.85. 5, Minster, Nick (South) 56.43. 6, Hanson, Gus (Kodiak) 56.58. 7, Seid, Aidan (Juneau) 56.90. 8, Floyd, Nigel (Eagle River) 57.36.

Girls 100 Breaststroke — 1, Ruffin, Mia (Juneau) 1:06.60. 2, Oakley, Madeleine (Dimond) 1:06.64. 3, Moore, Skylar (Sitka) 1:08.75. 4, McElroy, Claire (Soldotna) 1:09.55. 5, McArthur, Whitney (Sitka) 1:10.11. 6, Snelders, Millie (Palmer) 1:10.60. 7, Cvancara, Ruth (Dimond) 1:10.64. 8, Sullivan, Anne (Colony) 1:11.59.

Boys 100 Breaststroke — 1, Anderson, Joseph (Colony) 57.70. 2, O’Brien, Jarod (Dimond) 57.73. 3, Davis, Bergen (Thunder Mountain) 59.09. 4, Hoen, Jack (Dimond) 59.30. 5, Creglow, Jacob (Soldotna) 1:00.30. 6, Carpenter, Bryce (Eagle River) 1:01.44. 7, Rhein, Chance (Ketchikan) 1:01.64. 8, Cvancara, Dax (Dimond) 1:03.53.

Girls 400 Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Moody, Erin, Williams, Camryn, Williams, Kendal, Oakley, Madeleine), 3:39.10. 2, Juneau 3:41.66. 3, West Valley 3:42.02. 4, Sitka 3:44.35. 5, Bartlett 3:46.25. 6, Kodiak 3:47.26. 7, Soldotna 3:48.35. 8, Colony 3:48.46.

Boys 400 Yard Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Alfano, Nathan, Dittlinger, Reed, Chung, Christopher, O’Brien, Jarod), 3:10.79. 2, Kodiak 3:12.87. 3, Soldotna 3:13.83. 4, Service 3:15.35. 5, ER 3:16.67. 6, South 3:19.38. 7, Ketchikan 3:21.64. 8, West Valley 3:28.91.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai's Mikaela Pitsch competes in diving at the state swimming and diving meet Saturday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Kenai’s Mikaela Pitsch competes in diving at the state swimming and diving meet Saturday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Claire McElroy competes in the 100-yard breaststroke at the state swimming and diving meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Claire McElroy competes in the 100-yard breaststroke at the state swimming and diving meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

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