BELLINGHAM - Senior swimming standouts Andy Small, Patrick Gregory and Curran Wilbour have enjoyed nothing but team titles at Sehome - from dual meets to Class 2A state - but that's far from the only reason they're eager for a four-season sweep.
"It's all about the Sehome legacy, the Sehome lineage," said Gregory, who helped keep the Mariners perfect in Northwest Conference dual meets during his four seasons with a 122-63 victory over Squalicum on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center.
"That's right. When we were freshmen and sophomores, we had great older swimmers we looked up to," said Small, "and we want our freshmen and sophomores to remember that about us."
Indeed, the three seniors - who have contributed points to three state and three district title teams - will get a chance to cap unbeaten NWC dual-meet careers against Anacortes on Thursday, Jan. 24, at Arne Hanna. Both teams are 5-0 in the conference heading into the seniors' final dual meet.
"It's pretty important to us," said Wilbour, who won the 200- and 500-yard freestyles against the young Storm, logging a state-qualifying 5 minutes, 9.24 seconds in the 500, though it wasn't his best time. "That would be pretty sweet. It was make me feel like I accomplished something."
The three seniors agreed that one of the most rewarding aspects of Sehome swimming has been seeing the young guys make great progress.
"Guys like (sophomores) Isaiah Grambo, Josh Larson, Trevor Nims and Patrick Lisosky, and (freshmen) Colin Hakeman and Calvin Richan," said Gregory. "They are definitely a fun group. They've improved even more than I expected since the start of the season. And we're really going to need them to win state again."
Grambo, in fact, has improved enough to sometimes beat Gregory in the 50 free - and did so Tuesday in the meet's best race. Grambo, who clocked 23.3 seconds, out-touched Gregory, who swam 23.61. Grambo also won the 100 butterfly (58.41), his second best time.
Gregory, though, came back with a solid state-qualifying time in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.71) - the event he hopes to win at state. It wasn't his best, but like all the Mariners, he was "swimming through" an extremely rigorous practice schedule, since they haven't come close to tapering.
Small also logged a state time, registering 2:08.76 in the 200 individual medley, and he claimed the 100 backstroke in 1:00.74. Richan swam a strong second for a freshman with a personal best 1:07.23.
"That's Andy's second-best IM of the season and it puts him in the top five on the state 2A list," said Sehome coach Don Helling. "Calvin made almost a two-second improvement. He's looking good for the future."
The future, however, may be now for Larson, whose 54.06 in the 100 free was his second best. He was pressed by runner-up Neall Koetje (55.88), a Squalicum junior.
"Josh really came out of the woodwork at the Kentridge Invitational and he's been going great ever since," Helling said.
The longtime coach was also impressed with how Sehome senior Rocky Rantz competed with Squalicum senior Rylan Korby in the diving. Korby, who hopes to take a state title, won with 170.10 points, but Rantz pressed him with 162.85.
"Rocky has improved by leaps and bounds," Helling said, no pun intended. "He has come together with his body control and higher degrees of difficulty."
Helling said Anacortes will be anything but a cinch to beat.
"They've got the talent to beat us, so we'll have to be at our best," he said.
Squalicum coach Randy Elsner, who is working primarily with younger swimmers, said his highlights were a drop of more than two seconds by freshman Jonathan Hegeberg with his runner-up 200 free (2:03.98) along with a personal best by fourth-place Lucas Roberts in the 100 free (56.87).
Sehome swept the relays with what Helling called creditable efforts. Small, Grambo, Gregory and senior Isaac Day took the 200 medley relay (1:46.47), and Gregory, Wilbour, sophomore Patrick Lisosky and senior Jack Thompson won the 200 free relay (1:42.76). The Mariners capped the meet by claiming the 400 free relay in 3:34.52 behind Wilbour, Grambo, Larson and Small.
As for Sehome perhaps seeing the end of all its streaks next season, Small said with a grin that opponents shouldn't count on that.
"It's never over," the affable Small said, finding a joke irresistible, "until the fat boy swims the 500 free."
SEHOME 122, SQUALICUM 63
200 medley relay: Sehome (Andy Small, Patrick Gregory, Isaiah Grambo, Isaac Day) 1:46.47; 200 freestyle: Curran Wilbour (Se) 2:02.73; 200 individual medley: Andy Small (Se) 2:08.76; 50 free: Isaiah Grambo (Se) 23.30; Diving: Rylan Korby (Sq) 170.10 points; 100 butterfly: Isaiah Grambo (Se) 58.41; 100 freestyle: Josh Larson (Se) 54.06; 500 freestyle: Curran Wilbour (Se) 5:09.24; 200 freestyle relay: Sehome (Jack Thompson, Patrick Gregory, Patrick Lisosky, Curran Wilbour) 1:42.76; 100 backstroke: Andy Small (Se) 1:00.74; 100 breastroke: Patrick Gregory (Se) 1:04.71; 400 freestyle relay: Sehome (Curran Wilbour, Isaiah Grambo, Josh Larson, Andy Small) 3:34.52.