Despite a small population, the state known as “the last frontier” has proven time and again that swimming is healthy and strong in the great white north. The ASAA Championships at Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend featured several big swims, including two state records. The AJ Dimond High School boys defended their 2014 title with another championship, and their girls overtook 2014 champion Juneau-Douglas High School to take the team title as well.
Team Scores (top 3):
Girls- Dimond 105 , Juneau-Douglas 74, Chugiak 72.
Boys- Dimond 104.5, Kodiak 81.5, Soldotna 66.
The girls meet featured two double-event winners, with the most dominant of those being Chugiak’s Emmie Jennings who took the sprint freestyles. Her 23.42 in the 50 freestyle was eight tenths of a second ahead of the nearest competitor, and her 51.01 for the 100 left a 2.5 second void. The 50 free was a 1-2 finish for Chugiak with Izzy Powers taking the runner-up spot at 24.24.
Mia Ruffin from Juneau-Douglas also took both the 200 IM (2:09.83) and the 100 breast (1:06.60.) The breaststroke was especially tight, as Dimond’s Madeline Oakley nearly snatched it away with her 1:06.64 finish.
Other event winners for the girls were Kodiak’s Marina Cumminsky in the 200 freestyle (1:54.93,) Eagle River’s Esther Min in the 100 fly (57.70,) Sitka’s Jessica Davis in the 100 back (58.30) and Tara DeGeorge from West Valley in the 500 freestyle (5:10.84.)
The lone state record set for the girls was in 1-meter diving as Eagle River’s Jami Stone scored 482.75, improving upon her 474.40 record set last year.
The top three teams in the girls meet took turns winning the relays. The Crimson Bears from JDHS (Eliza Chappel, Mia Ruffin, Gabi Kito and Andyn Mulgrew-Truitt) took the 200 medley relay over Chugiak by nearly a second, 1:49.60 to their 1:50.53.
Chugiak’s sprint strength was apparent in the 200 free relay, as the Mustang’s team of Izzy Powers, Leslie Cockrehan, Cheyenne Burke and Emmie Jennings finished over a second ahead of second place Dimond in 1:38.84. Jennings’ anchor on that relay was a blistering 23.18.
The last relay went to team champion Dimond, whose 3:39.10 from the team of Erin Moody, Camryn Williams, Kendal Williams and Madeline Oakley sealed the deal on their effort to take home the trophy.
The boys meet began with a shot over the bow, as the Dimond Lynx erased a six year old record from the books in their first swim of the finals session. The 200 medley relay team of Reed Dittlinger, Jack Hoen, Nathan Alfano and Jarod O’Brien finished in 1:36.29. That time was over three seconds ahead of runner-up Eagle River (1:39.42) and good enough to take down the JDHS 2009 record of 1:36.33, eclipsing the mark by .04.
Kodiak’s Talon Lindquist was a double event winner, taking the 100 fly in 50.05 and missing the state record by just .02 in the 200 free with 1:40.60. Service High School also boasted a double winner in sprint star Nathaniel Adams who set himself apart from the field on his 21.02 and 46.56 finishes in he 50 and 100 freestyles respectively. On a side note, Adams’ preliminary swim clocked at 20.94, missing Andrew Tainter’s 1996 Alaska record 20.91 by a mere .03.
Dimond had two individual event winners with Jarod O’Brien’s 1:54.55 for the 200 IM, and Reed Dittlinger’s 52.43 for the 100 back.
Sitka’s Will Pate won a stroke for stroke battle in the 500 free with Lathrop’s Alex Suleimani, taking the win with 4:39.83 over the challenger’s 4:40.09. Wasilla’s Brayden Schachle took the crown in 1-meter diving (491.35) and Colony’s Joseph Anderson kept Jarod O’Brien from the double win by out-touching him in the 100 breast, 57.70 to 57.73.
The freestyle relays were especially strong, with the 200 freestyle relay runner-up Kodiak (1:28.13) loaded by two sub-22 splits from lead-off Lindquist at 21.60 and anchor Nathan Schauff at 21.63. It was not enough to hold back the boys from Service though, whose slowest split was a strong 22.29, and whose anchor Nathaniel Adams rocked a 20.76 to win in 1:27.32. Third place Soldotna was in the hunt as well, with a solid team throughout and the fastest split of the meet from their anchor Cody Watkins who scorched a 20.74 to land their team just .14 out of second place at 1:28.27.
The 400 free relay was just as impressive, with the same three schools finishing in the same order as the shorter free relay, and the outcome of the meet being determined by the order of finish. Dimond’s 3:10.79 from the team of Alfano, Dittlinger, and Christopher Chung set up anchor O’Brien to put an exclamation point on their meet victory with a 46.36 split. Of course, the pressure was on, as Soldotna’s anchor leg from Cody Watkins was a comparable 46.49, and Kodiak’s anchor from Lindquist was the fastest of the night at 45.94 to bring those teams to finishes of 3:12.87 and 3:13.83 in that order.