It was an evening of almost for Sehome’s boys’ swimming team.
The Mariners almost won the team championship at the Class 2A State Championship Finals on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Anacortes spoiled Sehome’s undefeated season, winning the title with 226 points to Sehome’s 225.
The 200 freestyle relay team almost got the meet record, finishing just 0.05 seconds off the mark with a 1-minute, 28.55-second swim.
And the Sehome 400 freestyle relay team almost won the meet for the whole team, finishing just 0.07 seconds off of the Anacortes team, which sealed the team title for the Seahawks.
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Sehome coach Don Helling praised his team’s versatility, as a host of Mariners put up solid times in a few different events.
“It makes all the difference in the world,” Helling said, still glowing with pride. “You can have one or two superstars and a team that can’t do what needs to be done to win. We pride ourselves on teamwork and strong relays.”
After the Sehome 200 free relay team of Josh Larson, Zach Shenkin, Joseph Adams and Isaiah Grambo had their big win, the Mariners sat just four points off of first place Archbishop Murphy.
Neither Sehome nor Archbishop Murphy had swimmers in the 100 backstroke, and Adams’ 100 breaststroke netted Sehome 9 points to pull ahead of the Wildcats with 191 points to Murphy’s 186. Anacortes also sat in second with 186, setting up the showdown in the 400 free relay finals.
Sehome started off in the middle of the pack, but Shenkin’s strong thrid leg pushed the Mariners into a one-on-one swim-off with Anacortes for the final leg. Grambo took the anchor leg and had the Mariners in first for the 50 meters, but Anacortes’ Schleh pulled even on the next 25. Grambo pushed as hard as he could, but came up just fingertips short.
Shenkin, a freshman, got the Mariners started off in the finals with a fourth-place finish in the 100 freestyle. Shenkin was the top qualifier from the prelims on Friday, but took fourth with a 1:44.89 in the finals on Saturday.
“Zach was in there with the best,” Helling said. “He did what he did yesterday and went out a little faster.”
Squalicum sophomore Rowan King came into the 200 IM just a second off the leader, meet record holder and two-time defending champion, Archbishop Murphy’s Stephen Boden.
Boden found a new gear in the finals to win easily, but King had to fight back after swimming the middle two laps nearly neck-and-neck with Lindbergh’s James Buchanan. King pulled away thanks to strong breaststroke and freestyle laps, finishing second with a 1:57.64.
In the 50 free, Northwest District champion Isaiah Grambo took fourth with a 22.00, holding his position from the prelims. Grambo’s Sehome teammate Josh Larson also held his position in sixth with a 22.19 in the finals.
Those two times helped move Sehome up to third place, after it had been in sixth in the early part of the meet. Anacortes was second with two more points than the Mariners, and Archbishop Murphy was first with a 14-point lead over Sehome.
“We’re down a little from where we want to be, but Anacortes and Archbishop Murphy have come on strong,” Helling said. “The consolation swimmers are going to be key to what we end up doing.”
Shenkin had his second big race in the finals in the 100 butterfly, where he maintained his fifth place finish in the prelims with a fifth place 53.56.
Grambo had another solid finish to score some more points for Sehome, when he took sixth in the 100 freestyle with a 48.45. His first 50-meter split was only 0.95 seconds slower than his time in the 50 free. His points helped put Sehome back in third, after it dropped back to fourth following the diving and 100 butterfly.
In the 500 freestyle, Colin Hakeman held off a surging Tony Mikhail from Archbishop Murphy when the two were neck-and-neck for the final 150 meters. Hakeman took fifth with a 4:52.28, with Mikhail just .09 slower. Freshman Rudi Berry took eighth with a 4:57.94 for Sehome.
Sehome moved to only five points behind second place Anacortes after the 500 free. Archbishop Murphy extended its lead, with 44 points more than the Mariners at that point.
Squalicum’s King had another big race in the 100 breaststroke, coming up just 1.43 seconds short of the title in the event with a 58.93.
“Today was really good. I had drops in both events and held my position,” King said, adding that he wished he could have moved up and grabbed a title.
Storm coach Randy Elsner was impressed with King’s aggressiveness.
“He really wanted it,” Elsner said. “With his improvement rate, he can really thrive. He’s really talented and strong.”
Bellingham’s Martin Sloley also raced in the breaststroke, taking eighth with a 1:03.10.
“Martin had a nice IM (seventh with a 2:09.21), but he’s a solid swimmer,” Bellingham coach Jeff Anderson said. “He had his best split in the 200 free relay, as well.”
Squalicum had a dramatic finish in the diving, as sophomore Wilson Dierdorff finished thrid with a 395.1, just 0.85 off of the second place finisher.
“He dove so solid every dive,” Bellingham schools diving coach Rhonda Flatz-Stouder said. “He worked so hard that this doesn’t surprise me.”
Dierdorff exceeded his own high expectations. He was aiming for a top-eight finish and surprised himself a bit, he said.
Blaine’s Kean Rouse also participated at state, finishing with a 2:09.02 in the consolation final of the 200 IM, and swimming a 5:10.92 in the 500 free consolation final.
Lynden had Michael Johnson swim a 1:01.18 in the 100 backstroke, and its relay team had a 3:41.17 in the 400 freestyle relay.