FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
ANACORTES - District newcomer Lake Washington swept the three relays and the team title, but that didn't prevent swimmers from the three Bellingham schools from having a whole lot to shout about.
And shout loudly, early and often they did as five different athletes - only one a senior - brought home gold medals to Bellingham along with a raft of other stat- qualifying times in the Northwest District Class 2A Girls' Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Fidalgo Pool.
One of the girls, Squalicum senior diver Tori Franzen, defended her district title in fine fashion. The other four local champions - freshmen Olivia Nielsen of Squalicum and Hannah Holmgren of Sehome, along with juniors Maddie Gillman of Bellingham and Josephine Hegeberg of Squalicum -swam career bests and figure to have a shot at repeat title distinction next season.
Lake Washington, bolstered by 23 points from its divers and 96 from the three winning relays, claimed the title with 300.5 points over defending Class 2A state and district champion Sehome, which had 253.05 for second place. Squalicum took third with 221.
Gillman was involved in two outstanding races with career bests, winning the 500-yard freestyle over Sehome sophomore Gwen Roley and earlier finishing second in the 200 free behind Swimmer of the Meet award winner Jayna VanStone, a Lake Washington freshman.
The 200 free was a rousing race. VanStone's 1:59.08 beat Gillman by 11 hundredths of a second - and that was the difference as Gillman narrowly finished second in Swimmer of the Meet competition. Two other locals, third-place Roley (2:00.23) and fourth-place Hegeberg (2:07.41), also had state times.
"I'm OK with where I stood, but I'm sure going to try to beat that Lake Washington girl at state (Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-10)," said Gillman. "My goal in the 500 free is to break 5:20 and in the 200 free maybe 1:58. It's pretty nice to bring some recognition to Bellingham High."
Gillman definitely did that for the Red Raiders while being pushed by Roley as both swam bests in the 500, with 5:22.99 for Gillman and 5:26.92 for Roley.
"Maddie and Gwen always really push each other," said Sehome coach Don Helling. "We really dug deep as a team in so many ways. Gwen swam so well, and I have all the respect in the world for Maddie Gillman. They're both such great kids."
Bellingham coach Jeff Anderson, whose team finished sixth at 111 points in the 11-team meet, said the same thing, adding, "Maddie finished only four points for Swimmer of the Meet behind VanStone (who had 218 based on a table of events). Maddie had a great meet."
Squalicum coach Steve Gibb, likewise, couldn't have been happier with such impressive victories by Hegeberg, Nielsen and Franzen.
"I'm so proud of our girls," Gibb said. "I just hope we have a little left in the tank for state."
That seems likely, based on how well freshman Nielsen swam in the 100 butterfly (career best 1:01.88) and how strongly Hegeberg came back from a runner-up finish in the preliminaries for her title in the 100 breaststroke (career best of 1:11.02). Holmgren and VanStone tied for second with state times of 1:11.20.
"I was trying so hard to beat 1:02, since I've been stuck on that," said Nielsen. "My goal at state is to break a minute. I have a lot of older friends, such as Josephine. She has been helping me since was 8. She's the calmest girl in the world; she has this great poker face. I knew she had it in her to win and she pulled it off."
Hegeberg said she was excited when she learned Nielsen would be her Storm teammate.
"Of course," Hegeberg said when asked if she thought Nielsen would win. "I really thought it would be her. I really had to concentrate on making my stroke my best in order to win. This is nice - it's exciting."
Holmgren and Sehome teammate Shirley Lam, a junior who qualified in two individual events for state in her last opportunity this season, swam a classic 200 individual medley. Holmgren, taking the lead with an outstanding turn into the freestyle leg, dropped more than two seconds from her preliminary time and won in 2:22.36. Lam qualified by placing second in 2:23.97 (all top three finishers qualified for state).
"I just went for it (a ferociously aggressive turn). I felt confident," said Holmgren, who plays competitive water polo in Canada and loves big swim meets. "I'm really happy. It's good to be pushed. I would have been just as happy if Shirley had finished first and I had finished second, since we're good friends and it's all for Sehome."
That's the kind of attitude that pleased Helling, who knew the addition of powerhouse Lake Washington from the 3A ranks would be tough to beat - this season, anyway - with such a young team.
"I'm pleased 100 percent," Helling said. "I love to see it when a team pulls together and brings everyone up. That's what happened today. That's the kind of atmosphere you don't get in any other swim venue."
Franzen, a three-time state swim medalist and a six-time medalist in three sports combined, turned in a crowd-pleasing 11th and final dive of the day, a double forward move. Her 326.05 points weren't far off her district record of 345.50 as a junior, when she finished second at 2A state after taking fourth as a freshman and third as a sophomore.
"I feel like I did pretty well, but there are always a few dives I can improve on," said Franzen, who was joined in state qualifying by third-place Ellie Kindlund of Bellingham with 276.70 points. "I had already qualified for state on points."
In other individual highlights, Sehome junior Molly McGuire qualified for state with third in the 50 free and second in the 100 free. Nielsen, with third in the 100 backstroke in a state 1:04.12, also saw Lam - Sehome's team spirit leader - swim a state 1:05.29 for fourth, giving Lam two events at state when she had none coming into the meet.
In the relays, Squalicum's Abby Vonfeldt, Hegeberg, Nielsen and Maddi Dohm swam a state 1:57.93 for second in the 200 medley relay, and Sehome also had a state 2:01.72 for third with Lam, Holmgren, Zoe Sheinkopf and Sophia Carbone. In the 200 free relay, Sehome's McGuire, Holmgren, Ellie Poehlman and Roley took second in 1:48.55, closely followed for third by Squalicum's Nielsen, Shaye Fowler, Kathryn Monahan and Dohm. And in the 400 free relay, Sehome's 3:52.94 was a best for second with McGuire, Poehlman, Lam and Roley, followed by Squalicum in third with Fowler, Hegeberg, Vonfeldt and Monahan.
Those relay finishes will give many more local athletes a state shot and a chance to upend Lake Washington.
The other newcomer to the Northwest District, Sammamish, finished a strong fourth with 140 points. The happiest man at the meet might have been Archbishop Murphy's popular longtime coach, Mike McCloskey, who had the rare opportunity to award top-six medals to daughters Kaelee, a freshman, and Claire, a senior, for third and fourth in the 500 free.
That generated a big cheer, but that was nothing new. The noise had made Fidalgo deafening all day.
CLASS 2A GIRLS' SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Fidalgo Pool, Anacortes
Team scores: Lake Washington 300.5, 2. Sehome 253.05; 3. Squalicum 221; 4. Sammamish 140; 5. Archbishop Murphy 115; 6. Bellingham 111; 7. Sedro-Woolley 67; 8. Anacortes 63; 9. Lynden 61; 10. Burlington-Edison 22, 11. Nooksack Valley 12.
Winners and Whatcom County scorers (top 12):
200 medley relay: Lake Washington 1:55.32; 2. Squalicum (Abby Vonfeldt, Josephine Hegeberg, Olivia Nielsen, Maddi Dohm) 1:57.93; 3. Sehome (Shirley Lam, Hannah Holmgren, Zoe Sheinkopf, Sophia Carbone) 2:01.72; 7. Lynden (Hannah Hollander, Payton Vogt, Sarah Hollander, Shelby Umbaugh) 2:14.17; 10. Nooksack Valley (Kori VanderVeen, Acesha Erdmann, Arlissa Oettel, Aurora Mattson-Hughes) 2:35.17.
200 freestyle: Jayna VanStone (LW) 1:59.08; 2. Maddie Gillman (Bell) 1:59.19; 3. Gwen Roley (Se) 2:00.23; 4. Josephine Hegeberg (Sq) 2:07.41; 6. Ellie Poehlman (Se) 2:10.26; 7. Anna McNab (Bell) 2:11.53; 9. Megan Mundell (Se) 2:11.79.
200 individual medley: Hannah Holmgren (Se) 2:22.36; 2. Shirley Lam (Se) 2:23.97; 5. Abby Vonfeldt (Sq) 2:34.40; 6. Kathryn Monahan (Sq) 2:38.99; 8. Zoe Sheinkopf (Se) 2:35.68; 9. Lauren Avery (Se) 2:40.44; 11. Arlissa Oettel (NV) 2:44.67; Grace Dahl (Bell) 2:44.86.
50 freestyle: Clare Kucinski-Murphy (LW) 25.65; 3. Molly McGuire (Se) 26.70; 5. Maddi Dohm (Sq) 27.05; 8. Shaye Fowler (Sq) 27.44; 9. Shelby Umbaugh (Lyn) 28.02; 10. Sophia Carbone (Se) 28.37; 11. Margot Lewis (Bell) 28.44.
1-meter diving (11 dives): Tori Franzen (Sq) 326.05 points; 3. Ellie Kindlund (Bell) 276.70; 9. Madi Krussow (Sq) 219.10; 10. Olivia Keneipp (Se) 213.55; 11. Emily Lucke (Se) 196.45.
100 butterfly: Olivia Nielsen (Sq) 1:01.88; 6. Kaitlin Doyle (Sq) 1:09.47; 10. Emily Lucke (Se) 1:11.01; 11. Zoe Sheinkopf (Se) 1:11.22; 12. Julie Siegfried (Se) 1:11.87.
100 freestyle: Jessica McKinney (LW) 55.96; 2. Molly McGuire (Se) 57.92; 6. Maddi Dohm (Sq) 1:01.08; 7. Anna McNabb (Bell) 1:01.09; 8. Nina Djukic (Se) 1:01.29; 10. Sophia Carbone (Se) 1:02.50; 12. Kathryn Monahan (Sq) 1:04.00.
500 freestyle: Maddie Gillman (Bell) 5:22.99; 2. Gwen Roley (Se) 5:26.92; 6. Ellie Poehlman (Se) 5:52.27; 8. Kaitlin Doyle (Sq) 6:15.18; Kava Johnson (Bell) 6:21.32; 10. Kailee Richan (Se) 6:29.15; 12. Savanna Shoemaker (Se) 6:36.98.
200 freestyle relay: Lake Washington 1:46.75; 2. Sehome (Molly McGuire, Hannah Holmgren, Ellie Poehlman, Gwen Roley) 1:48.55; 3. Squalicum (Olivia Nielsen, Shaye Fowler, Kathryn Monahan, Maddi Dohm) 1:48.95; 4. Bellingham (Anna McNabb, Valentina Lopez, Margot Lewis, Maddie Gillman) 1:50.75; 6. Lynden (Hannah Hollander, Annie Uribe, Jaydn Elias, Shelby Umbaugh) 1:56.07; 11. Nooksack Valley (Acesha Erdmann, Katie Kipling, Emily Stadt, Kori VanderVeen) 2:20.39.
100 backstroke: Clare Kucinski-Murphy (LW) 1:03.16; 3. Olivia Nielsen (Sq) 1:04.12; 4. Shirley Lam (Se) 1:05.29; 7. Abby Vonfeldt (Sq) 1:07.67; 8. Sarah Hollander (Lyn) 1:07.73; 9. Nina Djukic (Se) 1:08.20; 12. Megan Mundell (Se) 1:09.48.
100 breaststroke: Josephine Hegeberg (Sq) 1:11.02; 2. Hannah Holmgren (Se) 1:11.20; 5. Leah Day (Se) 1:17.22; 7. Shaye Fowler (Sq) 1:16.15; 8. Emma Brice (Bell) 1:19.30; 10. Lauren Avery (Se) 1:21.57; 11. Hannah Hollander (Lyn) 1:22.02.
400 freestyle relay: Lake Washington 3:46.52; 2. Sehome (Molly McGuire, Ellie Poehlman, Shirley Lam, Gwen Roley) 3:52.94; 3. Squalicum (Shaye Fowler, Josephine Hegeberg, Abby Vonfeldt, Kathryn Monahan) 4:00.35; 4. Bellingham (Anna McNabb, Maddie Gillman, Kaia Johnson, Margot Lewis) 4:03.48; 6. Lynden (Hannah Hollander, Annie Uribe, Shelby Umbaugh, Sarah Hollander) 4:17.99.