Squalicum figured chasing its first Class 2A state title since 2009 was going to be a tall order. All the Storm needed to do was look at the 160-point margin defending state champion Liberty won by last year to know it would be difficult knock off the Patriots.
“We weren’t in any position to contend with them last year,” Squalicum coach Randy Elsner said in a phone interview. “They looked like such a juggernaut. But this year, we showed we’re a juggernaut, too. They actually gave me coach of the year because we did so well.”
Elsner and the Storm definitely earned that honor, as they made Liberty nervous until the final few events of the Class 2A State Championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way before ultimately finishing second. Liberty scored 310 points to Squalicum’s 280.
The Storm’s second-place finish was its best finish since it placed second in 2011 and marked the ninth time in 10 years Squalicum or Sehome has placed in the top two at state.
And Squalicum will have to rewrite the program’s record books, as it broke no fewer than four school records on Saturday.
It all started with Serena Allendorfer, Olivia Nielsen, Yanran Le and Tiana Varang winning the 200 medley relay title and breaking their own state meet record set 24 hours earlier in the preliminaries with a time of 1 minute, 48.52 seconds.
Le than broke the school records with her second-place finish in the 200 individual medley (2:11.02) and with her state-title winning time in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.68). Nielsen also broke the school mark by placing second in the 100 butterfly in 59.06.
But as fast as Squalicum looked in the competition pool, it was its performance in the dive tank that really kept Liberty on edge. The Storm had four divers competing and earning points on the final day to only one for Liberty. Amber Carson and Helene Synnott both made the podium for Squalicum, placing fifth (309.65 points) and eighth (299.90) respectively.
“The divers really kept us in it,” Elsner said.
The Storm also got a pair of podium finishes from Varang (third, 24.85 seconds) and Allendorfer (fourth, 25.13) in the 50 freestyle, and the same duo also placed fourth (54.10) and fifth (54.13), respectively, in the 100 freestyle. Sophie Booth placed eighth in the 500 freestyle (5:35.19), while the Storm’s 200 freestyle team placed seventh (1:44.86) and the 400 freestyle relay wrapped up the day by placing second (3:41.84).
Alia Malella highlighted the championship finals for Sehome by placing third in the 500 freestyle in 5:17.97. She also placed fifth in the 100 backstroke in 1:00.20 and was part of the Mariners’ fourth-place 400 freestyle relay team (3:49.11) and their fifth-place 200 medley relay team (1:55.70). Sehome also had the top local team in the 200 freestyle relay by placing fourth in 1:43.54.
Lynden’s Sarah Hollander placed third in the 100 backstroke in 1:00.11, placed seventh in the 500 freestyle in 5:24.59 and was part of the Lions’ seventh-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay (3:56.13), while Bellingham’s Gitte Gosvig placed seventh in the 200 freestyle in 2:02.62.
Since the birth of the Class 2A Girls’ Swimming State Championships, a Whatcom County school has finished either first or second every year but one: