Originally announced as Swimmer of the Meet, Yani Le will have to settle for two individual event wins at the Class 2A Northwest District Girls’ Swimming Meet on Saturday, Nov. 8, at Fidalgo Pool in Anacortes.
Le was announced as the winner of the award right after receiving her medal for taking first in the 100 breaststroke, but the Swimmer of the Meet award was miscalculated the first time and actually went to Danielle Booth of Archbishop Murphy, who was second in that race.
“She’s so humble that she would never say anything about it,” Squalicum coach Steve Gibb said in a phone interview. “I don’t think she even knew the award was part of the meet.”
Le’s time of 1 minute, 8.53 seconds was just .64 seconds faster than Booth, but Booth won the award because of her win in the 50 free earlier in the day. Le also won the 200 IM with a 2:15.16.
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She won that race in dramatic fashion, overtaking Archbishop Murphy’s Kaelee McCloskey about halfway through the race and extending her lead to win by1.49 seconds. The time was also a personal best for Le.
“My main is my breaststroke, and hers are fine,” Le said. “She’s faster in the fly and back, so on that last lap I tried to extend my lead.”
Sehome’s Alia Malella was another swimmer who may have been in contention for the top swimmer award at the meet, as she captured wins in the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke to help her team to a meet win with 299 points.
“It was a full team effort,” Sehome coach Don Helling said. “The relays were really key, and this team is coming together at the right time.”
In the 500 freestyle, Malella took eight seconds off of her time from qualifying for a 5:29.27. She also was 16.75 seconds faster than the second-place finisher, her Sehome teammate Ellie Poehlman.
What was Malella’s motivation to push herself when she was ahead by so much?
“I just try to lap as many people as possible,” she said. “Some of them were a lot closer to me than I thought they would be.”
Poehlman had to come from behind a little bit to take second, and ended up just edging Anacortes’ Bella Wyll by 1.04 seconds.
“I knew I had to beat her,” Poehlman said. “She barely beat me at a meet earlier this year. Some people try to conserve their energy, but I just go for it.”
The 200 freestyle relay was pretty indicative of the meet, as Sehome’s team of Sophie Grambo, Gwendolyn Roley, Leah Day and Hannah Holmgren narrowly defeated Squalicum’s Le, Janae Gallant, Kenzie Pham and Lanie Serres by 0.61 seconds.
Squalicum finished second as a team at the meet with 240 points. Bellingham was sixth with 154, Lynden was ninth with 28, and Nooksack Valley took 10th with four points.
The Pioneers’ only swimmer, Arlissa Oettel, trains with Lynden. She swam a 2:42.33 in the 200 IM and a 1:12.40 in the 100 backstroke.
Lynden 200 freestyle relay team was its top finisher. The team of Payton Umbaugh, Annie Uribe, Shelby DeWaard and Jaydn Elias took sixth in the event with a 1:54.26.
Bellingham’s team in that race took fourth with a 1:51.41, as Emme McNabb, Olivia Miley, Anna McNabb and Chloe Steinkamp edged the Shorecrest team by just more than a second.
“I’m hoping all three of our relays make it to state as wild cards,” Bellingham coach Jeff Anderson said. “Chloe did a great job on the IM and on the relays, too.”
Squalicum had a win from Serena Allendorfer in the 100 freestyle. She swam a 54.68 after her 25.26 was just 0.24 seconds too slow to take the win in the 50 free.
“I just wanted to swim as fast as possible,” Allendorfer said after the 50 free. “There wasn’t a certain aspect I was focused on, I just knew what I had to do.”
Squalicum also earned some key points in the diving finals, as first-year diver Amber Caron scored 300.75 points to take third behind the Archbishop Murphy duo of Claire Main and diving champ Reilly Krueger.
“Amber dove consistently,” diving coach Rhonda Flatz-Stouder said. “We spent some time on the board yesterday because we usually work off of a stiff board and this one flexes, so every dive was different. Amber did solid and had some high scores.”
Bellingham’s Sunni Sturnhagen and Chloe Roth were fourth and fifth in the dive with 263.60 and 257.50 points, respectively. Sehome’s Maya Helms (200.75) and Kinsey Hjelseth (175.30) were seventh and eighth.
The 100 backstroke was all Sehome. Malella captured the title with a 1:01.57, but just beat fellow Mariner Roley. Roley had a 1:01.85. Megan Mundell also qualified for state in the event for Sehome with a time of 1:05.70, in fourth.
“I think my turn was a bit closer, but I’m proud of all of us,” Malella said when asked what gave her the slight edge in the race. “I wasn’t expecting to win two events.”
Roley did have a win of her own, taking the 200 free title with a 1:58.92.
Malella was also the first leg on the 200 Medley Relay team that came from behind on the anchor leg to defeat Archbishop Murphy for the district crown. Holmgren, McKenna Sakamoto and Sophie Grambo were also on the team as Grambo overtook and sealed the win for the Mariners in the race.
“I knew I had some ground to cover,” Grambo said. “I saw her, that we were even, on the turn and just dug deep.”
The Class 2A State Girls’ Swimming Prelims begin on Friday, Nov. 14, at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Wild card state qualifiers will be announced later this weekend.
CLASS 2A NORTHWEST DISTRICT FINALS
At Fidalgo Pool
200 medley relay: Sehome (Alia Malella, Hannah Holmgren, McKenna Sakamoto, Sophie Grambo) 1:56.95; 200 freestyle: Gwendolyn Roley (Sehome) 1:58.92; 200 IM: Yanie Le (Squalicum) 2:15.16; 50 freestyle: Danielle Booth (Archbishop Murphy) 25.02; Diving: Reilley Krueger (Archbishop Murphy) 376.45; 100 butterfly: Zoe Hill (Anacortes) 1:01.12; 100 freestyle: Serena Allendorfer (Squalicum) 54.68; 500 freestyle: Alia Malella (Sehome) 5:29.27; 200 freestyle relay: Sehome (Sophie Grambo, Gwendolyn Roley, Leah Day, Hannah Holmgren) 1:45.01; 100 backstroke: Alia Malella (Sehome) 1:01.57; 100 breaststroke: Yani Le (Squalicum) 1:08.53; 400 freestyle relay: Anacortes (Faith Fostvdt, Zoe Hill, Bella Wyll, Lauren Conrardy) 3:50.89.