by Jason Tillotson, Swimming World College Intern
The 2016 Washington Girls State swimming championship gets underway this weekend at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.
Washington’s method of conducting their state meet is different from that of most other states. All three classifications (2A, 3A and 4A) swim their respective preliminary sessions on the same day, though they are assigned different time slots, then swim their finals sessions during the following day. In order to qualify for the state championship one must either obtain a qualifying time, win an event at their district meet or get invited through a “wild card” spot. Despite a complicated qualification system, all three classifications are set to have fast swimming all weekend long.
This years 2A meet is shaping up to be dominated by Liberty High School, with 21 swimmers seeded to score, and Columbia River who has 11 potential scoring swims. Aside from team points, most of the top-seeded swimmers this year appear to freshman or sophomores, meaning they have little experience at the state-level, which should shape up to be an interesting battle between them and the veteran upperclasswomen.
The 200 freestyle is set to be a close race for the medals as the top three seeds; Krista Wilson, last year’s gold medalist, Ella Van Troba, last year’s bronze medalist and Kara Noftsker come into the meet within a half-second of each other. Van Troba and Wilson will face off later in the meet in the 500 free as well, as they are seeded ahead of the rest of the field by over 12 seconds.
Freshman standout Eleanor Beers of North Kitsap is seeded first in both sprint-freestyles. She has the potential to dip under the All-American Consideration time standards, which would give her school some needed points and make her a heavy contributor to the relay points.
The 100 butterfly is one of many tight races this weekend, led by freshman Annika Eisele in a time of 1:00.01, just barely over the minute barrier. The rest of the top-six swimmers, are within a second of her which should make for an edge-of-your-seat battle for gold.
Pullman’s senior, Taylor McCoy is the only swimmer in the meet to come in with an All-American time-standard. She does so in the 100 backstroke, the event where she is set to defend her title from last year.
North Kitsap is set to run away with the main-event of the evening, the 400 freestyle relay, as they are seeded a full six seconds ahead of Liberty, which will contribute to a vicious battle for the championship team title.
This year, Lakeside is set to reclaim their state championship title due to their strength in all three relays. Many of the victors from last year’s championship are returning this year to defend those titles, though many freshmen are claiming the top-seed in several events.
Freshman Janelle Rudolph is seeded first in both the 50 free and the 100 backstroke, with a chance of upsetting some of the top upperclasswomen in those events. Seattle Prep’s Cameron Smith is seeded first in the 500 freestyle, which sets her up to repeat her win from last year in this event, though she will have to fight off Lakeside’s freshman Nathalie Valdman for the gold.
Kelly Morgan of Meadowdale leads the charge in the 100 butterfly, though she will face some stiff competition from the likes of sophomores Delora Li and Isabel Chien. The 100 breaststroke will also be an event to watch since the top four swimmers are all seeded within a half second of each other, which could potentially create a very tight finals race.
The 400 freestyle relay will be another nail-biter as it will come down to Bellevue, Lakeside and Squalicum all seeded in the top three, separated by a mere two seconds. With the individual races too close to call from a points perspective, this may be the race that determines who wins the state team title.
Last year’s team champions, Skyline, along with first and second runner-ups, Newport and Wenatchee, are poised to retain their top-tier finishes again this year. Many of the seeded scoring positions are taken up by Skyline’s seemingly endless supply of sophomores, but Newport should give them a run for their money with their stock of young swimmers as well.
Contrary to the 2A and 3A meets, many of these athletes have come into this meet having already achieved All-American status consideration status, though one athlete comes in with an automatic All-American standard. Mount Vernon’s standout junior, Emma Carlton, enters with an impressive 23.28 in the 50 freestyle to just dip under the AAA standard and her winning time from last year. Regardless of how she performs at this meet, she will already be named an All-American at the end of the season. Carlton also comes in as the number one seed in the 100 butterfly, this time, just missing the automatic All-American standard. While she is ahead of the rest of the seeded field by over a second and a half, she will have to hold off last year’s champion in the event, senior Jessica Wierzbicki from Wenatchee, who will be looking to have a great last state championship.
Sarah DiMeco from Skyline claims ownership of the comfortable top seed in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.98, about two and a half seconds ahead of Yulia Groysman of Newport. The two duked it out at last year’s state meet, with Groysman coming out on top. DiMeco also comes in as the favorite in the 500 freestyle, as she is seeded an impressive 10 seconds ahead of her closest opponent.
Despite their leadership in the seeded scoring points, Newport and Wenatchee are far behind in the highlight event, the 400 freestyle relay. They need to make up some serious ground on the likes of Kamiak, Jackson and Skyline if they want to stay in the hunt for the team title.
The complete psych-sheet for each meet can be found here.
The results from last year can be found here.