Soldotna senior Kylin Welch completes a dive Saturday in the boys 1-meter diving final at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna senior Kylin Welch completes a dive Saturday in the boys 1-meter diving final at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Welch gives SoHi 1st swim title in 15 years

When Soldotna diving coach Dennis Reger asked a group of swimmers in the fall of 2015 if a few wanted to join the dive team, the first hand that hesitantly rose up was that of freshman Kylin Welch.

Now a senior, Welch gave Reger the greatest gift a coach could receive Saturday at the ASAA state swimming and diving championships with a state title in the boys diving event, sending Reger off into retirement as a winner.

“It’s a big moment,” said an emotional Reger. “What a way to go out.”

The championship is the first state crown for a SoHi swimmer or diver in 15 years, the last coming in 2003 when Abby Kiffmeyer claimed double gold in the girls 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

Reger said when he first laid eyes on Welch and Sam Skolnick, he did not foresee future state greatness.

“Especially not when (Welch) raised his hand,” Reger said. “And I never thought Sam could come out and dive the way he did.

“But I thought I’ll take anything.”

The Dimond girls and Service boys captured team championships at the meet, with the Lynx tallying their fourth straight girls title and the Cougars getting their first state boys title since 1996.

The Kenai Central boys took fifth in the team standings as the top peninsula school with 32 points, tied with Juneau-Douglas. SoHi finished ninth in the boys team race while Homer was 11th and Seward was 15th.

In the girls team race, Homer was the top peninsula school in ninth with 23 points, while Seward was 10th and SoHi was 13th.

The other big peninsula performance of the day came from Seward freshman sensation Lydia Jacoby, who rolled up two state titles in the girls 200-yard IM and the 100-yard breastroke, the latter which saw her break the eight-year-old state record in the event.

Jacoby was announced as the Outstanding Female Athlete of the meet, along with Outstanding Male Athlete winner Caleb Law of Service.

STARS TAKE DIVING

Welch scored 433.15 points to beat West Anchorage runner-up Houlton Dannenberg’s 410.15 points, and was closely followed by senior teammate Skolnick, who finished third with 407.60 points to join Welch on the state podium.

Reger is retiring after 21 years as a diving coach, 17 at Soldotna and four at Skyview High School, and was able to enjoy his last moments on the pool deck as a coach in style.

The state title for Welch came a week after he won the Northern Lights Conference crown in a 1-2 finish with Skolnick.

“We’re both part of it, I’m really proud of him,” Welch said. “It’s been a long journey to get here, but it’s been great.”

Welch said the state win was the realization of a dream he has had for four years.

“It was everything I hoped for,” Welch said. “I’m still freaking out.”

Welch entered the final three rounds Saturday with a sizable lead to protect with Skolnick sitting second. Entering the final dive of the day, the senior needed just 21 points to win, but came through with a big 44-point haul. Welch said he believes he had it won with his forward 1 1/2 with a full twist.

“It was a lot of pressure, I was definitely a little nervous for it,” he said. “But it came out all right.”

Skolnick said his first dive, a back 1 1/2 somersault with a half twist, did not get enough rotation, which may have cost him the silver medal, but he finished with his best yet, a triple somersault.

“I’m definitely happy,” Skolnick said. “Maybe the meet could’ve gone a little better, but it is what it is. I’m happy I got into it these last two years.”

SEWARD FRESHMAN NETS RECORD

If no one knew the name Lydia Jacoby, they sure know it now.

Jacoby blazed a path to the girls 100-yard breaststroke state record — officially — with a time of 1:03.11, erasing the 2010 mark of 1:04.50 held by Kodiak’s Laura Griffing. Jacoby had eclipsed the state record twice before this season, including last weekend at the region meet with a PR of 1:03.05, but times do not count for the official record book outside of the state meet.

“It was coming,” said a pleased Seward head coach Meghan O’Leary. “We knew it was coming for a while.”

Jacoby took two wins Saturday, adding a victory in the girls 200 IM before tallying her breaststroke record. In the IM event, Jacoby trailed by about four seconds and in fifth place at the halfway point, but posted a monstrous breaststroke leg of the four-stroke event, quickly eating into the lead of Dimond’s Dreamer Kowatch to catch and pass her before starting the final freestyle leg.

Kowatch lost about five seconds to Jacoby alone on the breaststroke leg, and Jacoby said it was undoubtedly her better race of the day.

“I guess my mind was on the 200,” she said. “I knew I had the ability to win but there were like four other girls that could win it.”

The two wins are the first state championships for a Seward swimmer since 2010, when Ryan O’Leary won double gold in the boys 50 and 100 freestyle races. O’Leary’s older sister, Meghan, now the head swim coach, said Jacoby’s performances made for a proud day to be a Seahawk.

O’Leary said her last words to Jacoby before the breaststroke event stressed the importance of finding her rhythm quickly.

“I told her she’s got to get into it the first 25 yards,” O’Leary said. “That really set her up well for the last 100.”

Having swum a tick slower than her region meet time, Jacoby chalked it up to exhaustion from the two-day state meet. Jacoby is also scheduled to swim at the Winter National Championship meet in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the end of the month.

“I don’t know, I think I just tired out,” Jacoby said.

The only other Seward swimmer at the state meet, junior Connor Spanos, also brought home a strong finish with a fourth in the boys 100 butterfly final. O’Leary said Spanos had just overcome an illness, so the result was impressive.

“(Friday) was horrible for him,” O’Leary said. “But he had one more good swim in him.”

HEAVEN TAKES SILVER

Kenai Central senior Savaii Heaven closed out his high school career with a runner-up finish in the boys 100 backstroke final, while also teaming up to take fifth in the 200 medley relay and sixth in the 200 freestyle relay. Heaven was joined in the 200 medley relay by Trevor Bagley, Owen Rolph and Sorin Sorensen, and in the 200 free relay by Sorensen, Rolph and Koda Poulin.

Heaven, who is not one to put emphasis on placement, said he was most happy to finish with his personal best in the backstroke, a time of 52.77 seconds.

“I’d rather have a better time and (finish) second, than to win and not PR,” Heaven said.

Heaven also said he was proud of the two relays for breaking the boys school record in both races. The 200 free relay finished in 1:31.83 and the 200 medley relay finished in 1:41.50.

“I think everyone pulled PRs with their splits,” he said. “It’s just a good group of guys to get our names up on the board.”

The top finish for the Homer Mariners was a fourth for the girls 200 freestyle relay, with Madison Story, Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, Adeline Berry and Alia Bales making up the team.

Also for Homer, Clayton Arndt wrapped up a stout season with a fifth place in the boys 100 freestyle final.

Other peninsula highlights included the boys 100 butterfly race, which featured three peninsula finalists. Spanos of Seward took fourth while SoHi’s Ethan Evans was fifth and Kenai’s Owen Rolph took eighth. Evans also finished fourth in the boys 50 free final.

ASAA State Swimming/Diving Championships

Saturday at Bartlett pool

GIRLS

Team results — 1. Dimond, 96 points; 2. Sitka, 72; 3. Eagle River, 57; 4. Palmer, 52; 5. Kodiak, 44; 6. South, 36; 7. West Valley, 35; 8. Chugiak, 27; 9. Homer, 23; 10. Seward, 18; 11. Wasilla, 15; 12. Lathrop, 13; 13. Soldotna, 12; 14. Petersburg, 11; 15. Monroe Catholic, 9; 16. Hutchison, 7; 17. Thunder Mountain, 6; 17. West, 6; 19. Colony, 5; 19. Ketchikan, 5; 21. Juneau, 4.

Individual results — 1. Sitka (Davis, Harang, Schwantes, McArthur), 1:49.80; 2. Eagle River, 1:50.81; 3. Palmer, 1:53.20; 4. Kodiak, 1:53.25; 5. Homer, 1:53.57; 6. South, 1:53.92; 7. Dimond, 1:54.31; 8. MHS, 1:57.47.

200 free — 1. Breckynn Willis, Dim, 1:57.28; 2. Ellyse Russell, Pal, 1:59.25; 3. Leslie Spear, Kod, 2:00.19; 4. Allie Morgan, Pet, 2:01.94; 5. Emi Soldwedel, Dim, 2:01.99; 6. Cameron Howard, Jun, 2:02.48; 7. Molly Blackmon, Sit, 2:02.67; 8. Adeline Berry, Hom, 2:06.38.

200 IM — 1. Lydia Jacoby, Sew, 2:09.31; 2. Dreamer Kowatch, 2:09.99; 3. Grace Harang, Sit, 2:12.25; 4. Summer Cheng, Sou, 2:12.61; 5. Madison Story, Hom, 2:13.65; 6. Heidi Billings, WV, 2:15.36; 7. Laura Sherrill, Ket, 2:15.63; 8. Alexis Mattson, Col, 2:17.72.

50 free — 1. Izzy Power, Chu, 23.92; 2. Katherine Horning, ER, 24.69; 3. Katy McCarter, Lat, 24.81; 4. Gretchen Snelders, Pal, 24.88; 5. Aubrey Cheng, Sou, 24.94; 6. Kyleigh McArthur, Sit, 25.09; 7. Sydney Juliussen, Sol, 25.34; 8. Mikayla Terry, Dim, 25.43.

Diving — 1. Jayde Chan, Was, 419.20; 2. Jenna Walch, Dim, 403.25; 3. Carrie Mayer, Was, 374.00; 4. Chloe Hartman, Pal, 363.35; 5. Tyler Coffman, Pal, 307.10; 6. Sayuri Seto, Kod, 304.80; 7. Ansley Thornton, Col, 303.60; 8. Elianah Micael, Kod, 286.55.

100 butterfly — 1. Breckynn Willis, Dim, 58.03; 2. Kiara Borchardt, ER, 58.23; 3. Devon Cummiskey, Kod, 58.58; 4. Jessica Davis, Sit, 59.40; 5. Heidi Billings, WV, 59.53; 6. Laura Sherrill, Ket, 1:00.47; 7. Maria Pfundt, Pet, 1:02.76; 8. Nancy Liddle, Thm, 1:03.13.

100 freestyle — 1. Izzy Powers, Chu, 52.53; 2. Katy McCarter, Lat, 53.84; 3. Ellie Mercer, ER, 53.86; 4. Aubrey Cheng, Sou, 54.13; 5. Gretchen Snelders, Pal, 54.28; 6. Ellyse Russell, Pal, 54.49; 7. Sydney Juliussen, Sol, 55.60; 8. Mikayla Terry, Dim, 55.90.

500 freestyle — 1. Dreamer Kowatch, Dim, 5:14.82; 2. Grace Harang, Sit, 5:17.13; 3. Ryann Dorris, Wes, 5:24.05; 4. Cassidey Welsh, Hut, 5:26.18; 5. Emi Soldwedel, Dim, 5:30.90; 6. Nancy Liddle, Thm, 5:33.85; 7. Shannon McCallum, Hut, 5:39.18; 8. Naomi Burgan, Dim, 5:42.06.

200 free relay — 1. Dimond (Willis, Dittlinger, Soldwedel, Kowatch), 1:40.40; 2. Eagle River, 1:40.91; 3. Palmer, 1:40.92; 4. Homer, 1:42.67; 5. Sitka, 1:42.82; 6. Chugiak, 1:43.25; 7. West Valley, 1:43.27; 8. Soldotna, 1:43.41.

100 backstroke — 1. Ellie Mercer, ER, 58.40; 2. Jessica Davis, Sit, 58.88; 3. Summer Cheng, 1:00.07; 4. Victoria Schachle, MHS, 1:02.38; 5. Camryn Williams, Dim, 1:03.83; 6. Asyia Shank, WV, 1:04.60; 7. Molly Blackmon, Sit, 1:05.26; 8. Stella Tallmon, Jun, 1:06.98.

100 breaststroke — 1. Lydia Jacoby, Sew, 1:03.11; 2. Patty Eppingher, WV, 1:07.43; 3. Leslie Spear, Kod, 1:07.88; 4. Anastasia Chen, WV, 1:08.69; 5. Alexis Mattson, Col, 1:08.78; 6. Addison Morgan, Chu, 1:10.19; 7. Jean Cook, MHS, 1:11.18; 8. Juliette Benson, WV, 1:11.71.

400 free relay — 1. Dimond (Willis, Soldwedel, Terry, Kowatch), 3:38.19; 2. Sitka, 3:39.25; 3. Kodiak, 3:43.63; 4. South, 3:46.68; 5. West Valley, 3:47.68; 6. Soldotna, 3:47.74; 7. Petersburg, 3:50.64; 8. Thunder Mountain, 3:51.20.

BOYS

Team results — 1. Service, 114; 2. Dimond, 99; 3. Kodiak, 61.5; 4. Eagle River, 60.5; 5. Kenai, 32; 5. Juneau, 32; 7. West Valley, 29; 8. Thunder Mountain, 26; 9. Soldotna, 24; 10. Hutchison, 16; 11. Homer, 10; 12. Sitka, 8; 13. West, 7; 14. North Pole, 6; 15. Seward, 5; 15. Chugiak, 5; 17. Wasilla, 4; 18. Colony, 3; 19. West, 2; 19. Unalaska, 2; 19. Wasilla, 2; 22. Petersburg, 1.

Individual results

200 medley relay — 1. Service (Jarupakorn, Wisdom, Sands, Law), 1:34.00; 2. Eagle River, 1:40.33; 3. Dimond, 1:40.81; 4. Kodiak, 1:41.02; 5. Kenai, 1:41.50; 6. Juneau, 1:41.99; 7. Thunder Mountain, 1:48.34; Hutchison DQ.

200 free — 1. Maximum Addington, Dim, 1:42.31; 2. Jesse Tatakis, Dim, 1:45.35; 3. Nathan James, Kod, 1:47.43; 4. Andrew Walch, Dim, 1:48.64; 5. Micah Grigg, Thm, 1:50.13; 6. Fredric Rygh, Dim, 1:51.51; 7. Creighton Beshears, WV, 1:51.89; 8. Peter Kowalski, Pet, 1:52.18.

200 IM — 1. John Heaphy, ER, 1:56.16; 2. Noah Palmer, Hut, 1:59.24; 3. Matthew Heaphy, ER, 2:00.74; 4. Christopher Loudon, Dim, 2:01.07; 5. Tavner Wisdom, Ser, 2:01.51; 6. Nevin Lee, Kod, 2:03.43; 7. Kenneth Octuk, 2:04.71; 8. Nicholas Price, Ser, DQ.

50 free — 1. Caleb Law, Ser, 20.60; 2. Ezra Billings, WV, 22.11; 3. Tyler Weldon, Jun, 22.25; 4. Ethan Evans, Sol, 22.33; 5. Camren Hancock, Was, 22.36; 6. Ethan Christiansen, ER, 22.55; 6. Gavin Speth, Kod, 22.55; 8. Austin Carpenter, Ser, 22.62.

Diving — 1. Kylin Welch, Sol, 433.15; 2. Houlton Dannenberg, Wes, 410.15; 3. Sam Skolnick, Sol, 407.60; 4. Gabe Dobson, Chu, 391.20; 5. Marty Rygh, Dim, 388.55; 6. Eli Krozel, Col, 382.50; 7. Kade Reynolds, Was, 372.55; 8. Cian Hart, Jun, 343.00.

100 butterfly — 1. Brian Jarupakorn, Ser, 50.47; 2. Maximus Addington, Dim, 50.65; 3. Ian Sands, Ser, 53.49; 4. Connor Spanos, Sew, 53.97; 5. Ethan Evans, Sol, 54.74; 6. Connor Walch, Dim, 55.75; 7. Noah Hoefer, Dim, 55.86; 8. Owen Rolph, Ken, DQ.

100 free — 1. Caleb Law, Ser, 46.08; 2. Jesse Tatakis, 47.79; 3. Christopher Loudon, Dim, 48.30; 4. Savaii Heaven, Ken, 48.41; 5. Clayton Arndt, Hom, 48.98; 6. Ethan Christiansen, ER, 49.02; 7. Nathan James, Kod, 49.05; 8. Tate Goering, Jun, 49.09.

500 freestyle — 1. Noah Palmer, Hut, 4:42.58; 2. Raymie Matiashowski, Thm, 4:52.83; 3. Tytan Frawley, Sit, 4:53.56; 4. Kenneth Octuk, Dim, 4:53.58; 5. Chris Ray, Thm, 4:56.50; 6. Micah Grigg, Thm, 4:56.97; 7. Logan Fox, WV, 4:59.19; 8. Andrew Walch, Dim, 5:04.43.

200 free relay — 1. Service (Jarupakorn, Sands, Carpenter, Law), 1:25.47; 2. Kodiak, 1:30.28; 3. Eagle River, 1:30.49; 4. West Valley, 1:31.70; 5. Kenai, 1:31.83; 6. Homer, 1:33.11; 7. Juneau, 1:38.66; 8. Dimond, DQ.

100 backstroke — 1. Brian Jarupakorn, Ser, 51.50; 2. Savaii Heaven, 52.77; 3. Austin Carpenter, Ser, 52.84; 4. Ian Rocheleau, Kod, 54.37; 5. Nicholas Price, Ser, 54.78; 6. Jacob Mitchell, Dim, 55.84; 7. Adam Nguyen, Una, 56.02; 8. Caleb Peimann, Jun, 56.35.

100 breaststroke — 1. John Heaphy, ER, 56.76; 2. Tavner Wisdom, Ser, 59.37; 3. Anders Hocum, Kod, 59.42; 4. Matthew Heaphy, ER, 1:00.52; 5. Raymie Matiashowski, Thm, 1:02.64; 6. Tyler Weldon, Jun, 1:02.66; 7. Julien Wiese, Was, 1:02.72; 8. Wesley Dumm, Kod, 1:02.85.

400 free relay — 1. Dimond (Addington, Loudon, Octuk, Tatakis), 3:11.95; 2. Service, 3:16.51; 3. Kodiak, 3:17.74; 4. Juneau, 3:20.53; 5. West Valley, 3:27.06; 6. North Pole, 3:29.58; 7. Kenai, 3:34.07; 8. Sitka, 3:47.59.

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby races in the girls 200-yard IM final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby races in the girls 200-yard IM final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby races in the girls 100-yard breaststroke final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby races in the girls 100-yard breaststroke final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Alia Bales races the butterfly leg in the girls 200-yard medley relay Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Alia Bales races the butterfly leg in the girls 200-yard medley relay Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Adeline Berry competes in the girls 200-yard freestyle final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Adeline Berry competes in the girls 200-yard freestyle final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Sydney Juliussen takes on the girls 100-yard freestyle final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Sydney Juliussen takes on the girls 100-yard freestyle final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Clayton Arndt races in the boys 100-yard freestyle final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Clayton Arndt races in the boys 100-yard freestyle final Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai swimmer Trevor Bagley races in the boys 400-yard freestyle relay Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai swimmer Trevor Bagley races in the boys 400-yard freestyle relay Saturday at the 2018 ASAA swimming and diving state championships at Bartlett High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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