Kiffmeyer, Sorrell defend SoHi Pentathlon titles

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2002

Last year, Jenna Syverson's illness and Sarah Brettrager's disqualification opened the door for Soldotna's Abby Kiffmeyer to claim her first SoHi Pentathlon crown.

Friday, with Soldotna's Syverson and Colony's Brettrager at full strength, Kiffmeyer barged the door open herself.

The junior repeated her Soldotna Pentathlon championship, while Stars senior Nick Sorrell repeated as boys champion and SoHi swept the team portion of the meet.

"Last year, everybody was saying Sarah Brettrager was probably going to win it, then she got disqualified," Soldotna coach Sohail Marey said. "This year, Abby proved that her strength and speed are legitimate."

Kiffmeyer, a junior, proved it by thwarting a sterling bid for first place by Syverson, a senior.

The boys records at the Pentathlon are a prime example of what happens when stellar athletes become teammates and push each other to lofty heights. SoHi's Lucas Petersen and Joshua Gemmell set all six of the records in 2000.

After Friday, the girls records will provide a similar example of a symbiotic relationship, as Syverson and Kiffmeyer combined to break four of the meet's six girls records.

At the meet, swimmers do the 100-yard individual medley, then 50-yard races in each of the four strokes. The times of the five races are added up to determine the overall winner.

Syverson set new meet records in the 100 individual medley and the 50 freestyle. In the IM, Syverson finished in 1 minute, 2.01 seconds, to top Homer graduate Corise Bittner's 1992 mark of 1:02.01. In the freestyle, Syverson went 24.61 to lower Brettrager's 24.80 of a year ago.

"That (IM) mark has stood for 10 years, and Corise Bittner is one of the best swimmers the peninsula has ever produced," Marey said. "Jenna had quite a meet."

The IM was the first swim of the day, and Syverson's time set a tone Kiffmeyer wasn't sure she'd be able to match.

"I didn't think I would win," Kiffmeyer said. "I was thinking maybe I would get in the top three."

But Kiffmeyer battled back with a couple of record swims of her own. She tied her meet record with a 26.76 in the 50 butterfly and went 27.91 in the 50 backstroke to break Kenai graduate Stacey Pault's 1999 mark of 28.11.

Kiffmeyer ended up with a total time of 2:57.97, while Syverson was just behind at 2:58.21. Kiffmeyer was just three-hundredths of a second off the overall meet record of Bittner.

While Kiffmeyer will have one more year to quest after the mark, Syverson has competed in her last Pentathlon.

"I don't have any regrets," Syverson said. "If anybody was going to beat me, I'm happy that Abby was the swimmer to do it.

"I hope she breaks my 100 IM time next year."

Kiffmeyer and Syverson led Soldotna to a dominating performance in the team standings. The Stars had six swimmers in the top 10 to score 85 points and top runner-up Colony by 55. In other business on the girls side, Seward freshman Jacqueline Van Driessche had the top time in the 50 breaststroke in swimming to a fifth-place finish.

The Soldotna boys also dominated the team category, scoring 81 points to top runner-up Homer by 19. It was the first time the Stars, who swept the top four, defeated the Mariners in a meet this year.

"We were worried about Homer," Marey said. "We thought they'd be pumped to take the Pentathlon, but they were flat."

Sorrell led the effort by winning with a total of 2:41.53. It was plenty to outdistance the 2:44.81 of runner-up Leo Grasso of Soldotna. The time also was three-hundredths of a second faster than Sorrell's winning effort of a year ago.

"Last year, I swept all five events so I was feeling a lot of pressure to do that again," Sorrell said. "I started off winning the medley, but then when I lost the fly it was a relief.

"I didn't have to worry about every event and I just relaxed."

Sorrell also won the 50 breaststroke.

Ty Mann-Schweigert took the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly, but his times in the 50 breaststroke and 100 medley were too far off to challenge Sorrell. Mann-Schweigert finished seventh.

Grasso, a junior whose previous best in the Pentathlon was sixth, took the 50 backstroke en route to his runner-up finish.

"I'm looking forward to trying to win first place next year," he said. "I'm also looking to try and get some of those records."

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