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By Emma Foster, Swimming World College Intern
The Missoula Hellgate girls and boys secured their three-peat of Class AA on the last day of the Montana High School state championship, lowering several state records along the way and sweeping all relays on both the men and the women’s side. Meanwhile, in Class A-B Havre High and Billings Central tied for the girl’s podium, while Columbia Falls upstaged Billings Central boys for the first time since 2009.
The Hellgate boys 200 Medley Relay got things off to a fast pace, lowering their own state record set last year, swimming a swift 1:36.55 to outdo the previous record of 1:38.84.
Mari Aoki of Hellgate quickly followed up the boy’s relay effort with her swim in the 200 IM, breaking the longest standing Montana State girl’s record. Previously a 2:06.90 held by Hannah Chura of Bozeman, Aoki lowered it to 2:06.09 today, beating the rest of the field by over 5 seconds. Aoki also won the 500 free in a time of 5:10.23.
Not to be outdone, Adam Zimmer of Big Sky/Loyola broke his own state record in the 200 IM. He outdid his effort of 1:52.93 from last year with a 1:52.55 to win the gold. Zimmer proved to be on all day, when he followed up this win with another in the 100 breast, breaking his previous state record for good measure. His swim of 56.05 outdid his record set in 2014 of 56.42 and won him a second gold. This time was also good enough to secure him an auto-All American time.
Katherine Berkoff also secured an auto-All American time as the cherry on top to a standout breakout performance for the Hellgate freshman. First cruising to victory in the 100 free in 51.73 over Hailey Hamlin of Bozeman (53.54) Berkoff also won the 100 backstroke in 55.26 which secured her All-American spot.
Katherine’s brother, Cale Berkoff of Hellgate was also a double event winner, winning the 100 fly in 52.65 ahead of Patrick Brennan of CMR (55.79) and then pulling off a photo finish to outtouch Ethan Harder of Billings Senior in the 100 back by one one-hundredth of a second (50.72, 50.73 respectively). Both times were good enough to get both Berkoff and Harder consideration for All Americans. Additionally, while Harder settled for second in the 100 back, he did take home the gold in the 200 free with a time of 1:43.04.
Jadyn Stroh gave Hellgate another two event wins with her efforts in the women’s 50 free (24.19) and 100 fly (58.26), while Colton Babcock of Columbia Falls High was also a double event winner in the 50 free (21.95) and 100 free (46.91).
Other event winners were Hamlin in the 200 free (1:55.49), Jake Bentley of Butte High School in the 500 free (4:55.44) and Amilla Dlakic of Bozeman in the 100 breast (1:06.77).
Finally, the Hellgate boys brought the meet full circle with another state record in the last event of day. The team broke the state record in the 400 free relay set in 1998 by Bozeman. Their effort of 3:14.85 was just enough to outdo the previous record of 3:14.98.