By Phillip Whitten
TEMPE, Ariz., Nov. 5. THE weather was unseasonably warm last weekend at Arizona State University in Tempe — in the mid 90s. It was probably ten degrees warmer on the deck of the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center on the ASU campus. But it was hottest of all in the water, where, on Saturday, November 3, the Arizona State 5A and 4A High School Swimming Championships were being held. Seven 5A records and six all-time state records fell in this, the nation's first high school state championships for the 2001-02 season.
The team results were, however, very familiar. Xavier won the girls' title for the 17th time, scoring 312 points, and they did it without winning a single event. Misty Hyman's alma mater, Shadow Mountain, was second with 210, while Horizon finished third with 192.
Brophy Prep won the boys' team title for the 14th time in a row and 22nd time in the past 23 years. Brophy scored 331 points to 251 for Mesa Mountain View and 201.5 for Dobson.
Girls' Meet: Chandler, Connealy, Morelli Lead the Way
Chandler's Ashley Chandler made her final high school meet a memorable one, sweeping the two distance events, destroying the state record in the 500 free, and earning "Swimmer of the Year" accolades. Her coach at Chandler High, Richard Johnson, took home "Coach of the Year" honors.
Chandler, who has won two USA Swimming national titles, began her day by taking the 200 free in a solid 1:49.29. Then she got down to work. Swimming with only three days rest, Chandler, first lowered the 5A and state records in the 500 free in prelims to 4:49.28. The old 5A mark was 4:50.65 by Xavier's April Diez in 1990. The overall state record was 4:49.41 by Kalyn Keller two years ago.
In the final, Chandler made sure there would be no doubt in anyone's mind about who was the greatest high school distance swimmer in Arizona history, as she stroked a blistering 4:45.16 and finished a full 18 seconds ahead of her nearest pursuer. Afterwards, she shared: "My goal was to break 4:45, and I came sooo close, but I'm very happy with my swim." Chandler has narrowed her college choices to Texas, Cal and Stanford.
Chandler's splits: 54.71, 1:52.10, 2:49.53, 3:47.43, 4:45.16
North Canyon junior Cait Connealy also had an outstanding day, winning two individual events and leading off her team's winning 400 free relay with the day's fastest 100 freestyle swim.
Connealy began her day by winning the 50 free in 23.03, breaking the state record of 23.04 set by Tucson Mountain View sophomore Lacey Nymeyer in prelims. Nymeyer finished second in the finals in 23.12. The previous mark, Jill Jenkins' 23.23, had stood for eight years.
Nymeyer went on to win the 100 free in 50.92 (50.41p).
About 20 minutes after the 50, Connealy was on the blocks again, this time winning the 100 fly in a speedy 54.98, to edge Westview's Meghan Devinney, exactly one second behind her. In most places, 54.98 would be a state mark. But in Arizona, the state record stands at 52.41, the still-standing national mark set by Misty Hyman in 1996.
In her final swim of the day, Connealy uncorked a 50.14 split leading off North Canyon's winning (3:33.14) 400 freestyle relay, easily the fastest 100 freestyle swim of the meet.
Horizon's Kara Morelli was the third double winner of the meet, stroking to impressive wins
in both the 200 IM and the 100 back. Morelli, a senior, clocked automatic all America times in of 56.09 in the backstroke and 2:04.79 in the prelims of the medley. She went on to win the medley by more than three seconds in the final, touching in 2:05.02.
Boys' Meet: DeBerry, Rollins, Gaffney Star
Sabino's Tyler DeBerry was named "Swimmer of the Year," after he set two individual 5A and
overall state records and led off Sabino's state record-setting 400 freestyle relay. Mountain View's Pat O'Neill won "Coach of the Year' honors.
DeBerry began his epic day by clocking 1:38.26 in the 200 free, breaking the old 5A and state record of 1:38.79 set by Scott Gaskins of Salpointe in 1996. DeBerry took a commanding lead right from the start and never looked back, though second place finisher Zach Anderson, who swam an outstanding 1:39.94, hung on gamely. DeBerry's splits: 22.82, 47.65, 1:13.11, 1:38.26.
Later, the tall, lanky DeBerry turned in a blistering 4:28.59 for the 500 free to break Jamie Richardson's 1998 mark of 4:29.13 and complete his distance double. Once again, Zach Anderson was second, this time in 4:34.01 (4:33.33p). DeBerry's splits: 50.24, 1:44.39, 2:39.07, 3:34.37, 4:28.59.
After the 500, an ecstatic DeBerry said: "The 200 was probably the best swim of my life, and i achieved my goals in the 500: breaking the state record and going under 4:29. "I've never been so happy," he said. "This is my best meet ever."
But it got even better. In the meet's final event, DeBerry, who plans to attend either Michigan or Texas, led off Sabino's 400 yard freeestyle relay in 46.01, as his team splashed home in 3:06.98, breaking the state mark of 3:07.70 set by Brophy in 1992. The team consisted of DeBerry, Markus Renno (47.95), Daniel Walls(47.73) and Dave Rollins (45.29).
Rollins also had a spectacular meet, clocking 1:49.41 in the 200 IM to break the oldest record in the book: John Simons' 1979 mark of 1:49.80. Set four years before Rollins was born, it was a national high school record when Simons set it.
Despite Rollins' superb swim, he was pressed all the way and, in fact, trailed Red Mountain's Michael Passey for the first 160 yards. Passey led at each transition, taking a one-stroke lead into the final freestyle leg, when Rollins uncorked an unstoppable 25.73 split to Passey's 27.36. Passey finished in 1:50.99. Rollins' splits: 24.66, 52.81, 1:23.68, 1:49.41.
The race might have been even faster, but there was a false start that resulted in the swimmers doing almost an entire 50 yards fly before being called back to the blocks.
Passey gained a measure of redemption by winning the 100 fly in 49.78, just missing the state mark of 49.62.
Rollins almost nailed a second state mark, winning the 100 breast in 56.96, after coming within two-tenths of a second of the record with his 56.67 in prelims. Jason Hodder swam Arizona's fastest prep 100 breast 10 years ago, 56.48.
Rollins finished up his day by anchoring Sabino to a state mark of 3:06.98 in the 400 free relay, splitting 45.29.
Brophy senior Colin Gaffney was the third double-winner on the boys' side, taking the 100 free in 46.70 and the 100 back in 49.97. The backstroke swim equals the 5A record set last year by Rincon's Eric Hadley. The overall state record is 49.16, seet by Matt Ulrickson in 1996. Gaffney was pressed all the way by Mountain Ridge sophomore, Scott Goodrich, who finished in 50.51.
Gaffney also led off Brophy's 200 medley relay team with a 23.61 backstroke effort. Brophy went on to win in 1:35.80, just edging Sabino's 1:35.91, despite Rollins' 25.22 breaststroke leg and DeBerry's 22.14 fly split.