The fourth day of competition at the Western Zones Age Group Championships in Grand Junction is in the books and was one of the best night we’ve seen so far this meet. Some races were decided by hundredths, some were won by multiple body lengths. Here’s a recap of what we saw:
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The first race of the night didn’t disappoint at all. With 25 hundredths separating the top two finishers, Leanna Gharbaoui of San Diego Imperial (SDI) won by just out touching her counterpart Sophia Sebastian of Pacific (PC) in times of 1:13.47 and 1:13.73. These two girls are both having a fantastic meet with multiple wins under both their belts. The Boys race was a little more spread, with 71 hundredths separating the top two, but saw Carl Grini of PCbeating Harrison Lierz of the home team Colorado (CO) in times of 1:15.17 and 1:15.89.
The pink suit came out again tonight as Central Californias (CC) Caitlyn Snyder won with a time of 1:07.28 beating out Elizabeth Menzmer of Sierra Nevada who went 1:07.96 with a three second drop from her prelim time, but not fast enough to catch up to Snyder. Ivan Graham of Pacific Northwest (PN) came through in the boys event to win with a time of 1:04.74 which is off his best ever, but still a second and a half drop from his prelims time. Taking second was Joshua Camerino of PC who just got out touched by four hundredths, and was also just a bit off his best ever.
The altitude started to show in some of the lower elevation teams as day four continued on with what some consider to be the hardest event in swimming. Mackenzie Vargas of Sierra Nevada (SN) got the win, but almost two body lengths over teammate Paige Maynard who was the winner of the 100 back two nights ago. The boys race saw Noah Cutting of Oregon (OR) go out ahead and hope to fend off the closers. He really started to hurt at the end, but held off Fox Anderson, and Preston Mayer who both had fantastic last fifties, but took second and third respectively. Cuttings time of 2:16.05 was a full SEVEN seconds faster than his prelim swim from the morning.
The girls 15-16 200 Butterfly was all about Shaelin Morefield (PC) who ran away with it from the start. Dropping five seconds from her prelim swim, she out split everyone in both 100s and beat second place Andrea Schmidt of Montana (MT) by six seconds with 2:23.25 vs 2:29.90. The boys swim literally came down to the last stroke. Robert Guerra (SDI) just barely edged out Levi Jensen of Wyoming (WY) with times of 2:11.39 and 2:11.65. The last fifty of this race looked like something strait out of the Olympics with both boys at the same tempo, same breathing, swimming in complete synch until the last five meters.
To continue the complete dominance of the winning womens flyers, Mariah Williamson (PN) won this race by 13 seconds. Her time of 2:27.99 beat Wyomings Gracie Brown who had a fantasic last fifty to take second after not even being in the mix at the last turn. The Boys race had Jackson Colter (WY) take a body length lead after the start, and hold on through the end. But not after taking a scare from Hawaiis (HI) Nicholas Wright who pulled to almost even with Colter in the middle 100, but had a long last turn and you could see the altitude hit him the final length. Colter won with a time of 2:16.61, 1.6 seconds ahead of Wrights 2:18.20.
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This race saw something we haven’t seen a lot here, and that was a run down. Caraline Baker (CO) went out ahead of the pack, but closing fast was Sophia Sebastian (PC) who won the event with a 39.49, against Bakers 39.90. The boys race was a little strewn though. Bryce Soriano (PN) won the event in a 41.17 with Ryan Kim (PC) taking second with a 41.50. This was overshadowed though by what appeared to be a new zone record from another swimmer (due to the age I won’t mention names) but a disqualification gave Soriano the win after a second place finish in the 100 Breast.
The girls race could have gone to any of six girls. Zoe Bartel (CO) got the win, just 1/100th ahead of New Mexicos (NM) Lauren Burkle with times of 36.32 and 36.33. Third through sixth was also within two tenths of the leaders with times of 36.42, 36.44, 36,48, and 36.51. The boys race was another come from behind win by Colorado with Colby Allen winning in a time of 34.41, after Lyon Zhang (PC) had the lead after the start and through about 35 meters, before being caught up to by Allen and out touched at the wall.
Two girls pushed the pace in the first 50 of this race, but only one could hold on. Cassie Dallas (OR) went out with Pacifics Kaya Philapil to lead at the fifty, but after a monstrous last fifty by Brittney Straw (SN) Philapil fell all the way to fourth as Dallas won with a time of 1:15.80, and Straw came up to second with a time of 1:18.22. A boys pink suit emerged in the boys competition, as Daniel Carr (CO) completed the breaststroke sweep with a time of 1:09.53, just ahead of a speedo clad Keven Shang (PC) who finished with a 1:09.87.
For the girls older, but not oldest girls, Taylor Shewchuk (PN) took a lead and ran with it. Her time of 1:15.97 was two seconds ahead of her prelims time, and a full body length ahead of Megan Crook (PC) who took second in 1:17.17. The first Zone Record of the day was set in prelims of the mens event, but not noticed by the officials until right before the final heat due to an oversight, but Alex Straw (SN) went even faster in finals, with a time of 1:07.14 he broke his own prelims record which was a 1:07.42. Finishing second in that event was David Bowersox (WY) who pulled away from a large pack of second places during the final 25 meters of the race.
The old age group at this meet, decided to sit back during prelims, and wait until finals to really see what each other could do. Logan Morris (CO) won the girls event with a crazy good turn, to take the lead from top seed Lena Friesen (SR) with times of 1:16.23 and 1:16.84. The boys race had four guys turn all at the same time, but two of them pull away from the pack. Alexander Yaung (PC) and Carter Suzuki (HI) broke away from the pack and finished first and second respectively with times of 1:11.67 and 1:11.94.
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In what is a really long race for this age group, Jasmine O’Brien (HI) came out on top with a time of 2:17.63. Just 11/100ths ahead of second place of Karen Najera (SDI) who came into the wall at 2:27.74. The boys race was controlled throughout by Jack Wadsworth (SN) who finished with a 2:24.63. a full second and body length ahead of his teammate Winn Aung who took second in a 2:25.79.
The Girls 11-12 200 Free saw the pink suit of Caitlyn Snyder (CC) win her second event of the night just out touching Colorados Maggie Tibbitt with times of 2:14.28 and 2:14.36. On the boys side, Trey Freeman (UT) had an awesome last turn and got ahead of second place Westin Stieglitz (CO) who just couldn’t hang on with Freeman on the last 50. Their times were 2:09.25 and 2:10.49 respectively, both two seconds faster then their morning swims.
This race saw two big races, the one for first, and the one for third. Teammates Kate Peterson and Brittney Beetcher went into the wall stroke for stroke with Peterson just getting the better of Beetcher with times of 4:33.00 and 4:33.16. The race for third was also very close with Claire Pinson (SN) breaking up the 1-2-3 Colorado sweep by beating Adee Weller to the wall with times of 4:38.88 and 4:38.93. In the next heat of boys there wasn’t even a thought of it being that close. Jonah Saya (CO) took control off the lead and never let up, outsplitting the field on the third fifty by over 2.2 seconds. His time of 4:18.82 was almost seven seconds ahead of teammate Keegan Foulke whose second place finish gave host Colorado the 1-2 in both the womens and mens races in this event.
This was a race of guts on the womens side. Shane Knight (SDI) went out faster than the field from lane 2 (outside) and did her best to hang on without anyone seeing her. Although she faded at the end, she had built enough of a lead that top seed Natalie McDonald (UT) could not run her down at the end. Finishing with times of 4:42.20 and 4:44.80. The boys side saw a completely different story. San Diego Imperials Robert Guerra tried his best to separate himself from the field but could never get away from Pete Kotson (MT). Guerra had fantastic turns, but would be caught up to by Kotson on the swimming portion of each length, until the final lap when he was finally able to pull away from Kotson and win his fifth event of the meet. Looking at the events he has won this kid is a beast. His zone champion resume includes: 1500, 200 Free, 400 IM, 200 Fly, and now the 400 Free.
This event showed another classic example at this meet of running out of room to complete the rundown of the leader. Sarah Morgan (WY) took the lead during the second 100 and created some space between her and the rest of the pack, but during the last 100, Mariah Williamson (PN) tried her best to run Morgan down and win it, but just came up short, losing with a time of 4:40.48 as compared to Morgans 4:40.25. On the mens side, Cole Drake (HI) got the win after a third 100 that was almost a second faster than anybody else in the field, and finished in a time of 4:22.04. Brandon Smith took second after trying to set the pace early, but fading back into the pack as the race went on and came into the wall with a time of 4:24.45.
This meet has been fantastic up to this point, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Braden and Garrett for giving me this opportunity to start in the reporting field and I will continue to do my best to report on the sport of swimming!