Liberty High Wins Washington State Championship Big After 2A Reclassification

The Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) hosted its three girls State Championships meets on Friday and Saturday at the newly renovated King Aquatic Center in Federal Way. The weekend featured prelims and finals for 2A (smallest schools), 3A (middle-sized schools), and 4A (biggest schools), each of which earned their own individual and team state championship trophies.

In the 2A finals, class newcomer Renton-Liberty was dominant in a 160-point margin of victory over runners-up Sehome. Renton-Liberty was reclassified this year from a 3A school (where they placed 5th last year) to a 2A school, and they took what has historically been extremely competitive team scoring, and made it a lopsided affair that included Class 2A Meet Records.

The top 5 teams:

  1. Liberty – 348
  2. Sehome – 188
  3. Archbishop Murphy – 182
  4. Pullman – 171
  5. Ellensburg – 157

The meet started off well for Liberty with a 1:51.40 in the girls’ 200 medley relay, with a team of Lauryn Hepp (27.95), Abby Russell (31.39), Cecilia Nelson (27.31), and Sydney Hartford (24.75). They broke the three-year old State Record that had been held by Squalicum in 1:51.89, and also beat runners-up Ellensburg by almost three seconds.

That early win for Liberty came despite saving the Swimmer of the Meet, University of San Diego commit Mackenna Briggs, for the other two relays.

Before the diving break, Liberty had already racked up three wins. Besides the 200 medley, senior Cecilia Nelson won the 200 free in 1:56.47. That’s easily her best time and five seconds faster than she was during last year’s high school championship season. Her teammate Elisabeth Hohensinner came in 2nd in 1:57.88, and freshman Ella van Troba from Naches Valley took 3rd in 1:58.21.

The third of those wins went to the aforementioned star senior Mackenna Briggs, who won the 50 free in 23.75 – .03 slower than she was in prelims, but still good enough for a half-second margin of victory over Danielle Booth (24.34).

In the midst of that run, the only non-Liberty win before the break went to Pullman sophomore Taylor McCoy, who was a 2:06.92 to blow the field away by four-and-a-half seconds. McCoy’s swim was dominant to the point where she soundly beat the other butterflier/backstroker type IM’ers on those splits, and held even with the breaststrokers in their specialties, and that’s a formula for big margins.

Klahowya’s Kelsey Crane was 2nd in 2:11.46, and Liberty freshman Abby Russell, their only scorer in that event, took 3rd in 2:11.84.

The diving title went to Archbishop Murphy’s Reilly Krueger with a final score of 350.95, which at the time pulled them into a clear second-place and kept them within reach of Liberty.

That wouldn’t last, as coming out of the dive break Liberty once again won 3 out of the next 4 events, beginning with a new 2A Record from Briggs in the girls’ 100 fly – 55.65. That broke the 2011 record of 56.29 done by Hockinson’s Julia Sanders. Briggs was six-tenths faster to win the 3A title in this event last year.

In the next event, the girls’ 100 free, Cheney’s Makenzie Norman took a big win in 53.31 to pull her team into a coveted top-5 position through 7 events. Ellensburg’s Krista Wilson was 2nd in 54.09 and Squalicum’s Serena Allendorfer placed 3rd in 54.26.

Hohensinner improved her silver medal in the 200 free to a gold in the 500 in 5:08.36, beating Naches Valley’s Ella van Troba, who was 2nd in 5:10.79, and Pullman’s Caroline Brock, who took 3rd in 5:20.64.

On a quick turnaround from that 500 free win, Hohensinner swam the second leg on Liberty’s winning 200 free relay in the very next event. Liberty won all three relays at the meet, though this one in 1:41.23 was the only win that came without a Meet Record.

Briggs, the only senior, led off in 23.84 to give her team a huge lead, and she was followed by Hohensinner (25.71), Abby Russell (25.94), and Sydney Hartford (25.74).

Archbishop Murphy took 2nd in 1:42.86. That team was still looking in good position as the second overall team to that point of the meet, but with only a single scoring swim left in any of the remaining A or B finals, it became a waiting game as the field caught up to them.

The charge for 2nd began when Pullman sophomore Taylor McCoy won the girls’ 100 back in 56.95, almost three-seconds clear of Liberty’s Lauryn Hepp (59.69). Sehome, with two swimmers in the A-Final, pulled within 14 points of Archbishop Murphy at that point.

McCoy is now a perfect four-for-four in her individual events at the state meet, and she was the only swimmer to defend a Class 2A title.

The women’s 100 breaststroke stepped up significantly in quality from last year’s meet with a 1:05.64 from Archbishop Murphy’s Danielle Booth; in November of 2013, the winning time was a 1:08.29, and the top five this season were all faster than that (even though Ellensburg’s Taylor Wilson, the defending champion, chose different events this year).

That win from Booth but Murphy 22 points ahead of Sehome with only the final relay, worth double points, remaining. Archbishop Murphy didn’t have the depth to get a third relay even into the B-Final, which meant that 8th place (in other words, not DQ’ing) gave Sehome a tie, and 7th-or-better gave them 2nd place alone.

Sehome roared into a 5th-place finish, seven seconds faster than they needed to be to tie, to wind up in that spot by themselves.

That was a 5th-place finish behind Liberty’s winning, and record-setting, 3:37.43 relay – arguably the best they had on the day. The old record belonged to Tumwater in 3:40.87, and Liberty beat the second-place team from Ellensburg by almost seven seconds.

The winning relay consisted of Mackenna Briggs (51.99), Elisabeth Hohensinner (55.41), Cecilia Nelson (55.45), and Lauryn Hepp (54.58) – all stars of this meet as individuals, coming together for an impressive relay.

Full meet results available here.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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