By Nathan Jendrick
FEDERAL WAY, Wash., USA, July 15. A couple of close swims highlighted a light evening at the King County Aquatic Center for the third day of the Speedo West Sectional Championships. King Aquatic Club, the host team, had another strong night of racing, but several other teams stepped up to the challenge and produced some strong swims.
Starting the night off in fine form was 16-year-old Morgan Scroggy. After taking third in Wednesday night's 200 backstroke, Scroggy shot out of the gate in Thursday’s 200-meter freestyle and won the event over King's Emily Kukors in 2:03.26. Kukors finished in second in 2:04.82 and Kimberly Jasmer touched for third at 2:05.53.
Winning the "storied" event of the evening, the men's 200-meter freestyle, was 16-year-old Logan Storie (CAT), taking the event with a time of 1:54.72. But Storie's time, while a strong finish, wasn't the fastest time of the evening. In fact, the fastest 200 freestyle swim wasn't even posted in the A final.
Going into this morning's preliminary heats as the top seed, Tacoma Swim Club's Ryan Verlatti outdistanced himself from his field, the last heat of the morning, and felt confident his swim was good enough for a place in the championship final. Unfortunately, Verlatti's morning race strategy was flawed. Pacing his competition didn't round out to a fast enough swim. His time was only good for 11th, and thus he raced in, and ultimately won, the B final. His winning time of 1:52.97 was nearly two seconds faster than the actual winner. Had this been Olympic or World Trials, there may have been tears, but here Verlatti shrugged it off and said he would just focus on his next event, the 400 freestyle.
Winning the 400 individual medley events were Arianna Kukors (King) on the women's side and C.J. Nuess (SAS) on the men's side. Kukors raced to a quick 4:47.60, well ahead of second place finisher Courtney Eronemo (4:55.70), a teammate. Nuess won his event in 4:31.06, over STAR's 15-year-old Jayhan Kim (4:34.86).
To this point in the meet the "Queens of King" from King Aquatic Club have had a lock on the relay events. Going into the 400 freestyle relay, King had already dominated team events over the 200-meter distance, handily taking the 200 free and 200 medley relays.
Thursday, a couple of teams tried to dethrone the host. The start of the 400 freestyle relay race resembled a different picture than seen previously, as King's women were in second place at the 100-meter mark due to a strong swim from HEAT's Ally Rich. Following Rich was Katie Bieze, who tried mightily to hold off a strong attacking Megan Jendrick. Jendrick took the lead by the 150 and at that point, each stroke from King expanded its lead. The sister duo of Arianna and Emily Kukors finished off the event, with King setting a meet record in 3:51.81. Second went to Thunderbolt in 3:56.89.
The men's 400-meter freestyle relay was the most exciting event of the evening and a fine way to close out Day Three. With the lead changing back and forth throughout the race with the top four teams, Tacoma Swim Club's contingent of Nathan Adrian, Cale Scarbrough, Clinton Stipek and Ryan Verlatti came out on top over CHAT. The margin was so tight that no one in attendance knew who won without the scoreboard. Verlatti, in perhaps a bit of a justifying swim for his earlier miscalculation, stopped TSC's clock in 3:32.20. Chat's Matt Bailey closed up his relay in 3:32.22. Third was Ford Aquatics in 3:32.83 and fourth was King Aquatics in 3:33.92.