Thanks to Kerri-Ann Petty for covering the New Mexico High School State Championships. If you’re interested in covering your state’s high school championship, send an email to [email protected]
The prelims of the New Mexico Athletics Association Swimming & Diving Championships were all about relays and breakout performances from the underdogs on Friday afternoon. With several top swimmers choosing to swim their prelims races in practice suits, it left the field to be dominated by up and comers with huge time drops in the said fastest pool in the state at Albuquerque Academy.
Senior and future SDSU Aztec Anika Apostalon of Albuquerque Academy was an exception. Leading off the 200 Free Relay in 22.74, she broke her own state record set a year ago just moments after clocking a 49.98 in the 100 Free to also reset her record from the previous year. She later would cruise her way into the 100 Backstroke final for tomorrow afternoon. Though seeded fifth in the final she is the easy favorite by a good three seconds to any other contender in the field. Having two state records out of the way this afternoon provides her to focus on her 100 Backstroke state record set a year ago at 54.24. She was 53.63 in December at the Elite Pro-Am Meet in Oklahoma City, so she could easily destroy her own record tomorrow. The 50 and 100 Free are also likely to be faster since she was 22.77 and 49.53 the same weekend in Oklahoma City.
On the girl’s side of the meet, it will come down to a battle of the relays between Eldorado, Sandia, and Albuquerque Academy. Eldorado is young and hungry. Taking the top spot in both the 200 Medley and 400 Freestyle Relays with significant margins will make them hard to beat. They are also seeded third in the 200 Free Relay making an overall greater point outcome on relays than any other squad. They have one or two girls in every championship final except the 500 Free with those who will score variably throughout the consolation finals. It is at this point, their meet to loose.
In the past 11 years defending champions Albuquerque Academy have won nine titles. They will score big points out of Apostalon and teammate Gillian St .John, who is seeded third in the 200 Free and second in the 50 Free. However, with most of their remaining individual depth in the meet swimming in consolation finals, it will likely not be enough even with a few divers that will aide to their benefit.
Several younger classman female swimmers had substantial lifetime bests this afternoon. Freshman Sarah Lott of Los Alamos dropped 6 seconds in her 200 Free to go sub two minute for the first time and grab the second seed in the final with a 1:56.48. She also went 5:22.27 in her 500 dropping her personal best by four seconds from a time done at sea level in December. At 5500ft, there is a five second altitude adjustment which would give her nine seconds from that time in December. Of the Championship Final in the 500, only the top three swimmers are juniors while the rest are sophomores, freshman, or eighth graders. This is a good indication of the distance freestyle that could come out of the state in the next several years.
Saturday’s finals are expected to be a battle for second and third in many areas with state record holders like Apostalon, La Cueva’s Nika Fellows (JR), and Albuquerque High’s Cassaundra Pino (SO) favorites in multiple events. The best matchup to watch will come from Fellows and St. John in the 200 Free with good races for third and beyond in the 100 Back and 100 Breast.
On the boys side of the meet it is a good ‘ole fashion dogfight in the pool vying for a championship title. There are four leading squads, none of which will benefit from diving. Those squads are Albuquerque Academy, La Cueva, Eldorado, and Rio Rancho. All have two very solid relays and one sacrifice relay. All will go head-to-head with a squad of talented sprinters from Hobbs, who despite not having a club team anywhere in their area, have landed the top seed in the medley relay and the second seed in the 200 Free Relay. Outside of three individual events, the relays will be the races to watch tomorrow.
The big race will come in the 100 Back between La Cueva Senior Kris Tillery and Albuquerque Academy freshman Anthony Kim. A state record is likely to be broken here with the hopes of the first sub 50 100 Back in New Mexico waters. Kim is expected to dominate underwater and will need to if he wants to win against Tillery’s superb splitting. When these two have gone head-to-head in the past even in mid-season they have always turned it into a good show.
Heartbreak hit the pool deck early when Cibola Junior Edgar Melchor was disqualified in the 50 Free for swimming in the wrong lane after posting a lifetime best and leading time of 21.61. Last year, he was runner up by .01 in the same event. With Melchor out, the 50 Free becomes a showdown between unknown boys all with limited experience and all vying for their first title.
Notably absent from the meet are Dorian and Magnus Holler. These two brothers changed schools in January, making them ineligible to compete and would have both been front runners in a multitude of events. With the Holler brothers out, several boys in the area were able to swim likely win events to challenge for the team title.