Missoula Hellgate Sweeps Montana High School Swimming Championships

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MISSOULA – The Missoula Hellgate High School swim teams swept the girls’ and boys’ Montana High School Swimming Championship team titles on Saturday, Feb. 14 at the U of M Grizzly Pool in Missoula, dominating the meet with wins in 12 of the 22 events. Hanni Leach and Cale Berkoff led the way for Hellgate with two individual wins apiece.

Hellgate dominated the boys’ meet, scoring 271 points to easily outdistance Bozeman (189 points) and CM Russell (106 points). On the girls’ side, Missoula racked up 314 points to top Bozeman (192.5 points) and Billings Skyview (141 points) by a sizeable margin.

Hanni Leach, Mari Aoki, Jadyn Stroh and Sophia Layton led Hellgate to a dominating performance in the opening 200 medley relay as the foursome posted a 1:45.90, more than six seconds ahead of Skyview’s Erin Carroll, Linnaya Luoma, Shailee Luoma and Alyssa Boese (1:52.23). Bozeman finished third with Darby Seth, Amilla Dlakic, Amber Nabity and Madison Klundt stopping the clock at 1:55.14.

In the boys’ medley relay final, Hellgate won by nearly 10 seconds, as Cale Berkoff, Brendan Campbell, Matthew Fritz and Darragh Mahns touched in 1:38.84 and Central’s John Healey, William Hammond, Colton Klaudt and Pierce Oja stopped the clock at 1:48.82. Karl Spoerl, Phoenix Black, Demian Dlakic and Eli Ducennois gave Bozeman a third place finish in 1:49.84.

Hellgate kept the ball rolling the girls’ 200 free, as Hanni Leach put her stamp on the race in 1:51.39, more than nine seconds in front of Capital’s Avree Klungland (2:01.38). Helena’s Kate Murphy swam a 2:03.34 to finish third. Shortly after leading off the medley relay, Hellgate’s Cale Berkoff got back in the pool and won the boys’ 200 free in 1:45.24, downing C-Falls’ Colton Babcock (1:48.40) and Hellgate’s Jacob Butler (1:48.65).

Hellgate won its fourth straight event in the girls’ 200 IM, thanks to Mari Aoki’s 2:07.40. Skyview’s Alyssa Boese out-swam Central’s Samantha Duval for second, 2:15.57 to 2:15.70. Adam Zimmer of Big Sky/Loyola finally broke the Hellgate winning streak in the boys’ 200 IM, topping the championship heat in 1:52.98. Zimmer won decisively, as no other swimmers broke 2:00. Connor Funke of Senior came in second at 2:03.41, while Patrick Brennan of Rustlers took third in 2:04.57.

Andrea Schmidt of Sentinel dominated the girls’ 50 free final, sprinting to a convincing win in 23.63. Avery Vernon gave Hellgate another top three showing with her 24.95 for second, while Linnaya Luoma of Skyview (25.15) followed in third. Pierce Oja of Central had an equally impressive swim in the boys’ final winning by over a second and a half in 21.29. Glacier’s James Bouda (22.86) and Sentinel’s Ryan Mason (23.00) rounded out the top three.

Sentinel senior Andrea Schmidt won her second individual event of the meet in the 100 fly, dropping a 57.14 to down Bozeman’s Hailey Hamlin (59.59) and Hellgate’s Jadyn Stroh (59.90). Hellgate went 1-2 in the boys’ final, with Brendan Campbell (51.95) and Colter Christan (55.31) picking up major points for the team. Rustler’s Patrick Brennan rounded out the top three in 55.97.

Bozeman sophomore Hailey Hamlin pulled a quick double, competing in the 100 fly and then coming back minutes later to win the 100 free in a tight race with Hellgate’s Sophia Layton. Hamlin got to the wall first in 53.76, with Layton right behind in 53.83. Capital’s Avree Klungland hung on for third in 55.37. Central’s Pierce Oja grabbed the sprint freestyle double, adding a win in the 100 free to his 50 free victory earlier. Oja posted a 46.87, with Hellgate’s Brendan Campbell (49.84) and Bozeman’s Matthew Hoffman (52.40) in second and third.

Helena freshman Jesse Ecklund got her high school state meet career off to a great start with a win in the 500 free. She hit the touchpads in 5:24.25 for her first state title. Julian Fee (5:29.70) and Ellee Becker (5:30.09), both of Hellgate, came in second and third. Senior’s Connor Funke, also a freshman, edged Hellgate’s Jacob Butler for the boys’ distance title, 4:54.98 to 4:55.21. C-Falls’ Colton Babcock finished in the top three for a second time, with a 4:57.14.

Hellgate went two-for-two in girls relays with Avery Vernon, Baylee Everett, Ellee Becker and Jadyn Stroh clocking a 1:40.64 in the 200 free relay. Bozeman’s Madison Klundt, Lania Hall, Grace Walkuski and Hailey Hamlin separated themselves for second with a 1:44.67, while Glacier’s Jessica Loyda, Lauren Harmon, Emma Hornby and Olivia Gibson tracked down third in 1:45.13. Darragh Mahns, Colter Christian, Jacob Butler and Matthew Fritz kept Hellgate undefeated in the relays with a 1:32.76, comfortably ahead of Bozeman’s Wade Spoerl, Matthew Hoffman, Sami Mostefa and Karl Spoerl (1:34.84) and Rustlers’ Andrew Spragg, Jesse Whiteman, Elijah Parker and Patrick Brennan (1:35.70).

Hanni Leach won her second individual title for Hellgate in the 100 back, throwing down a very impressive 53.36, among the fastest high school times in the country. Teammate Sophia Layton locked down second in 59.49, with Skyview’s Alyssa Boese in third at 1:00.82. Cale Berkoff made it a Hellgate sweep of the backstroke events, winning the boys’ 100 back in 51.20. Glacier’s James Bouda (55.70) and Sentinel’s Ryan Mason (56.40) touched second and third.

In one of the closest races of the day, three swimmers finished within .38 of one another in the girls’ 100 breast final. Skyview senior Linnaya Luoma captured the state title in her final high school meet, touching in 1:07.40. She barely out-touched Hellgate’s Mari Aoki (1:07.64) and Bozeman’s Amilla Dlakic (1:07.78) for the win. Adam Zimmer of Big Sky/Loyola, the 200 IM champion from earlier in the meet, won the 100 breast in 56.42, more than five seconds in fromt of Butte’s Keegan Whalen (1:01.61) and Rustlers’ Elijah Parker (1:01.87).

Hellgate capped a dominating performance at the meet by sweeping the 400 free relays. Jadyn Stroh, Mari Aoki, Sophia Layton and Hanni Leach posted a 3:33.29 to win the girls’ race by 13 seconds. Skyview’s Megan Beggar, Shailee Luoma, Linnaya Luoma and Alyssa Boese finished second in 3:46.40, followed by Bozeman’s Darby Seth, Lania Hall, Grace Walkuski and Hailey Hamlin in 3:49.18. On the boys’ side, Jacob Butler, Brendan Campbell, Darragh Mahns and Cale Berkoff combined efforts to win in 3:16.93, with Helena’s Nick Angeli, Alex Ackerlund, Andrew Smith and Colton Bauer way back in second at 3:32.38. Bozeman’s Wade Spoerl, Sami Mostefa, Matthew Hoffman and Phoenix Black touched third in 3:32.76.

Montana High School Swimming Championships – Results

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Author: Emily Sampl

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Emily Sampl, an editorial assistant for Swimming World Magazine, is a freelance writer for USA Swimming and an assistant coach at Boulder High School and Boulder Elks Swim Team in Colorado. Emily graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and master's degree in sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

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