Arizona High School State Division I Championships

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By Lauren Sampl, Swimming World intern

MESA, Arizona, November 8. THE ladies of Xavier Prep roared to the team title this past weekend at the Arizona High School State Division I Championships, held at the Kino Aquatics Center. They amassed 401 points en route to the championship, nearly doubling the point totals of second-place Chaparral High School (220 points) and Mt. View-Mesa (209.50 points).

Desert Vista kicked things off with a convincing win in the 200 medley relay. The quartet of Mickey Melosi, Katie Olsen, Lauren Torres, and Mary Geavaras stopped the clock in 1:45.67, just barely missing the state record of 1:44.98 set by Xavier Prep in 2005. Notably, Katie Olsen blasted a 28.00 breaststroke split to lead the relay, a time that would be competitive at many of the top Division I college teams. Mt. View-Mesa wound up second in 1:49.07, and Mountain Pointe rounded out the top three finishers in 1:51.90.

Mt. View-Mesa's Kat Simonovic gave Cait Connelly's 200 free state record of 1:47.06 a scare, as she raced to the 200 free crown in sizzling time of 1:48.09, almost five seconds faster than her prelim swim. Alisha Bender of Xavier Prep clocked in at 1:50.91 for second place, while Clara Jenck of Mountain Pointe stole the final podium spot in 1:51.90.

In the 200 IM, Chaparral's Megan Cox beat out breaststroke phenom Katie Olsen of Desert Vista for the win, 2:03.19 to 2:05.91. Sarah Jurek of Chandler earned third place honors with a time of 2:07.94.

Another record nearly fell by the wayside in the 50 free as Gilbert's Kelli Benjamin, headed to Texas A&M next year, sprinted to a final time of 23.07, just over a tenth off Aleesha Miller's state record of 22.93 from 2006. Samantha Guttmacher of Red Mountain was right on her tail, checking in at 23.21, and Maggie McCord of Canyon Del Oro claimed third place in the splash and dash in 23.57.

In the diving well, Chloe Hacker of Corona del Sol won a tight contest over Kyra Tatlow of Westwood, with the two finishing a mere nine points apart. Hacker earned 363.30 points for the win, while Tatlow was the runner up with 354.45 points. Chloe Mennega of Mt. View-Mesa scored 328.85 points to earn third place.

Following the diving break, Leticia Lelli of Chaparral swam a lightning-quick 54.90 to win the 100 fly. Talie Anchustegui of Xavier Prep asserted herself as the second-best butterflyer in the state with her 55.83 effort, and Cece Simpson of Centennial was just behind in third at 56.34.

Fresh off her state title in the 50 free, Kelli Benjamin of Gilbert put her sprint skills on display once again, nearly breaking the 50-second barrier in the 100 free and touching at 50.19. Alisha Bender of Xavier Prep added another second place medal to her collection with a 51.41 effort, and Kyra Zsiga of Xavier Prep sprinted to third in 52.39. Notably, Samantha Guttmacher of Red Mountain won the consolation finals in 51.87, a time that would've placed third overall.

Kat Simonovic, the queen of middle distance free at this meet, took her second state title of the meet with a victory in the 500 free. She narrowly beat out second place finisher and 200 IM champion Megan Cox, 4:52.44 to 4:53.27. Desert Mountain's Ally Loper was just behind the two leaders, clocking in at 4:56.79 for third.

The first state record of the meet finally went down in the 200 free relay after several near-misses in the preceding races. Xavier Prep's Sarah Graif (24.19), Alisha Bender (23.53), Talie Anchustegui (24.12), and Kyra Zsiga (23.37) teamed up for a speedy time of 1:35.21, breaking their own school's record of 1:35.26 from 2003. The tandem from Chaparral finished second in 1:38.06, while Canyon Del Oro completed the podium with a strong time of 1:39.49. Notably, sprint ace Samantha Guttmacher of Red Mountain anchored her relay to a fourth place finish with an insane split of 22.79, the only swimmer under 23 seconds in the event.

Leticia Lelli of Chaparral added to her 100 fly crown with a victory in the 100 back. Lelli touched out second place finisher Talie Anchustegui of Xavier Prep, who was fresh off a state record in the relay, 56.41 to 56.49, for the win. Clara Jenck of Mountain Pointe earned third place honors with her time of 57.41

Katie Olsen of Desert Vista put on a clinic in the 100 breast, winning the event in a scorching time of 1:02.00. Olsen was just over a second off her state record swim of 1:00.68 from last year. In the race for second, Elaine Casap of Xavier Prep beat out Ciara Jenkins of Mesa, 1:05.65 to 1:06.04.

The ladies of Chaparral High School closed out the meet with a near-state record effort in the 400 free relay. The tandem of Megan Cox, Carly Johnson, Jourdan Broadfoot, and Leticia Lelli joined forces for a 3:27.80, just 0.17 off the state record. Lelli anchored the relay in a blazing 49.99. Xavier Prep finished less than a second behind at 3:28.63, while Desert Vista's relay took third in 3:35.28.

Brophy Prep dominated the Division I 5A boys' competition, showcasing its depth and riding two relay wins to earn the team title with 474.50 points. Red Mountain was well behind with 203.50 points, and Salpointe Catholic rounded out the top three teams with 157 points.

The Brophy boys began their trek to the team title by winning the opening 200 medley relay. Tucker Wells, Shane Essert, J.J. Osborn, and Jeremy Becker clocked a time of 1:36.51 for the title, while Mt. View-Mesa's team finished just over a half second behind at 1:37.19. Salpointe Catholic finished third in 1:37.96.

Brophy continued its parade to the podium when Brian Stevens snared the 200 free crown in a scorching time of 1:38.88. Brian Moore of Boulder Creek was runner up in 1:41.29, and Salpointe Catholic's Tyler Mattingly posted a 1:43.30 to finish third.

After chopping nearly five and a half seconds off his prelim time of 1:58.01, Tanner Roe of Chaparral bested top seed Chris Webb of Brophy Prep, 1:52.65 to 1:52.87, to earn the state championship in the 200 IM. Brandon Hughes wound up third in 1:57.04.

In the 50 free, Payton Sorenson of Mt View-Mesa led a trio of swimmers under 21 seconds, sprinting to a time of 20.44. Teammates John Dowd and Dion Nielsen of Red Mountain finished one one-hundredth apart at 20.93 and 20.94 to finish second and third.

Brothers Josh and Mike Bidak went 1-2 for Horizon in the diving competition, with Josh scoring 480.40 points for the win and Mike finishing just behind with 441.10 points. Connor Dignan of Desert Vista compiled 407.70, good for third place behind the Bidak brothers.

After diving, a close battle unfolded in the 100 fly, with the top four finishers separated by only four tenths of a second. Matthew Mozdzen of Chandler hit the pads first in 50.41, followed by Reed Patterson of Rincon (50.62) and Alex Leighton of Salpointe Catholic (50.75). Brian Moore finished just off the podium with a fourth place effort of 50.86.

Teammates John Dowd and Dion Nielsen were back at it for Red Mountain in the 100 free, shortly after the two finished second and third in the 50. Dowd sprinted to victory in 45.75, while Seth Maddy of Mesquite dipped under 47 with a 46.99 for second. Nielsen added another third place medal to his credit with a 47.58 showing.

Tanner Roe of Chaparral earned his second individual title of the meet after dropping another huge chunk of time from his prelim swim. Roe went 4:31.51 to touch out Brian Stevens of Brophy Prep (4:31.55) by four one-hundredths of a second. Roe had qualified in 4:41.33, while Stevens was the top seed at 4:34.23. Stevens' teammate Chris Webb swam to third place in 4:34.61.

Led by its sprint stars Nielsen and Dowd, Red Mountain raced to victory in the 200 free relay in 1:24.97. Nielsen, Ross McDonnell, Tyler Guttmacher, and Dowd beat out Brophy Prep (1:25.23) and Mt. View-Mesa (1:26.37) for the title.

In the 100 back, Matthew Berg of Ironwood churned to victory in 52.62. Pinnacle's Hunter Thompson and Mt. View-Mesa's Payton Sorenson waged a close battle for second, with Thompson getting his hand on the wall just ahead of Sorenson, 53.02 to 53.09.

Brophy Prep returned to the top of the podium in the 100 breast after Michael Nelson and Shane Essert provided the 1-2 punch with first and second place times of 58.02 and 58.16 seconds, respectively. Perry's Victor Hernandez also cleared the 1:00 barrier to earn third place in 59.40.

Brian Stevens, Carter Smith, Bradley Dorsey, and Chris Webb sealed the team victory for Brophy Prep with a speedy time of 3:08.50 in the 400 free relay. Red Mountain, paced by a 45.45 anchor split from John Dowd, finished second in 3:11.33. Mesquite rounded out the top three finishers with a 3:13.99.