The Soldotna High School boys and girls swimming teams weren't ready to give up their SoHi Pentathlon team titles -- not just yet.
The Stars, led by boys individual champion Nick Sorrell and girls individual champion Abby Kiffmeyer, retained their titles Friday, but did so with very little breathing room between themselves and the Homer Mariners, runners-up in both the boys and girls competitions.
"It came down real close," Kiffmeyer said. "I didn't like the nerve-wrackingness, but I liked the outcome. When it's close, it makes you feel better when you win."
In fact, while the Stars had both individual champions, the Mariners accounted for second and third in both competitions.
Sorrell swept all five events -- a rare accomplishment in the Pentathlon -- to clinch the boys title with a total time of 2 minutes, 41.56 seconds, beating out Homer's Evan Smith (2:49.25) and Jake Bell (2:49.49).
"I just really wanted it bad," Sorrell said of the sweep. "No one is the best at all events and all four strokes, so you really have to give it everything you have."
Sorrell took the 100-yard individual medley in 57.26, the 50 butterfly in 24.96, the 50 breaststroke in 29.07, the 50 backstroke in 27.09 and the 50 freestyle in 23.18.
Kenai's J.D. Pault finished in fourth place with a total time of 2:51.50 while Homer's Ben Kuhns was fifth in 2:51.89.
The Stars clinched the team title, though, with five more swimmers finishing in the top 16 point-scoring places.
Clayton Harrison was sixth (2:53.22), Leo Grasso placed seventh (2:53.72), Ty Mann-Schweigert was ninth (2:54.41), Seth Chavka was 10th (2:54.94) and Aladean Marey was 12th (2:57.81).
Jacob Boulden of Seward placed 11th (2:56.73). Jamey Smith placed 14th (2:59.88) and Andy Vait was 15th (3:00.53) for the Mariners while Kenai's Jesse Tapley rounded out the top 16, finishing with a total time of 3:01.89.
"SoHi has not lost the Pentathlon for many years," said Soldotna coach Sohail Marey. "This year was not the time to lose it. Homer gave us a good run -- they have a lot of awesome swimmers, but we were lucky to have a couple more swimmers squeezing into the points."
Kiffmeyer completed the individual medley in 1:03.07, the butterfly in 26.76, the breaststroke in 36.46, the backstroke in 28.91 and the freestyle in 25.70 to take the girls title.
Kiffmeyer set a meet record with her 50 butterfly time, breaking the mark of 27.48 set by Kenai's Mendy Benson in 1991. Benson's other meet record, her 25.21 in the 50 freestyle, also fell, bested by Colony's Sarah Bettrager, who completed the event in 24.80.
Kiffmeyer conceded that Bettrager could have won the meet if not for a disqualification in the breaststroke.
"She really deserved first," Kiffmeyer said. "She's awesome."
Kiffmeyer said breaking the butterfly record was her goal, but also knew she lost ground in the overall standing in the breaststroke.
"My mom, she keeps track, but I don't really like to know -- I get nervous," Kiffmeyer said. "She'd tell me (what place I was in) every once and a while, but I just didn't want to know anymore by the end."
Kiffmeyer edged Homer's Monica Ulmer (3:04.44) and Renae Rykaczewski (3:05.06), but the Stars piled up points with Amberlee Query taking fourth (3:09.36), Karina Petersen in fifth (3:11.74), Caitlin Martin in sixth (3:13.69) and Keely Chavka in seventh (3:14.43).
Homer had four more swimmers in the top 16: Ericka Hendrickson in 10th (3:20.36); Katelyn Wythe in 11th (3:21.11); Rhiannon Jennings in 12th (3:21.20); and Hannah Baechler in 13th (3:22.06).
"They all swam well," Homer coach Trent Fischer said. "I didn't see much today I was disappointed with."
Kenai had two girls finish in the top 16 with Marcie Woodard taking 14th (3:23.14) and Jennifer Jenkins taking 15th (3:24.39).
"They strategize throughout the week as to the events they know they can excel in and the position they want to come in at in the final results," said Kenai coach Eleanor Thomson. "Even when they're swimming, they're watching the results from the other heats. The major goal is to be in the top 16."
Hansen, Knowles take Kenai 11-dive meet
Kenai Central High School's Rachel Knowles took first place Friday in the girls competition at the Kenai 11-dive meet while Palmer's Eric Hansen was the top diver in the boys competition.
Knowles totaled 300.55 for her 11 dives, beating out runner-up Heidi Biggs of Soldotna by 98.35 points.
Hansen scored 316.50 points in the boys competition.
Kenai 11-dive meet
1. Rachel Knowles, Ken, 300.55; 2. Heidi Biggs, Sol, 202.20; 3. Cara Hesselbach, Was, 200.75; 4. SarahJean Gillette, Col, 199.85; 5. Samantha Dalebout, Sky, 181.05; 6. Anna Evanson, Sky, 160.30; 7. Hanna King, Sky, 137.95; 8. Na Sarsuwan, Sol, 125.50; 9. Beck Hesselbach, Was, 98.20. 10. Jessie Miller, Ken, 63.35.
1. Eric Hansen, Pal, 316.50; 2. Jordan Cubbedge, Kod, 273.95; 3. Tyler Randolph, Kod, 267.75; 4. Hal Willardson, Pal, 204.55; 5. Eric Bleicher, Col, 184.95; 6. Joe Dickerson, Was, 145.00; 7. Max Biggs, Sol, 135.05; 8. Tony Keller, Col, 129.10; 9. Riley McCorkell, Was, 74.90.
SoHi boys, SoHi girls, Skyview girls, Kodiak boys take Saturday meets
The Soldotna High School boys and girls swimming teams swept a tri-meet with Region III foes Colony and Wasilla Saturday at Soldotna.
The Soldotna girls scored 146 team points while runner-up Colony scored 93 points and Wasilla scored 83 points.
The Soldotna boys scored 148 points to Colony's 50 and Wasilla's nine points.
Nick Sorrell picked up first places for the Stars in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 52.04 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.71). Leo Grasso posted wins in the 100 freestyle (53.62) and the 200 individual medley.
For the Soldotna girls, Amberlee Query won the 100 butterfly (1:07.74) and the 100 breaststroke (1:16.65). Abby Kiffmeyer picked up wins in the 50 freestyle (25.46) and the 100 backstroke (1:03.16).
Also Saturday, Skyview hosted Kodiak and Palmer in a tri-meet. The Panthers were able win the girls competition with 114 points while Kodiak and Palmer tied with 90 points.
The Kodiak boys won the meet with 113 points while Skyview finished with 63 points and Palmer had 62 points.
Vanessa Williams had a pair of first-place finishes for the Panthers, winning the 50 freestyle in 28.84 and the 100 backstroke in 1:15.97.
Lizzie Crane finished first in the 200 individual medley in 2:44.29, Stephanie Lambe won the 100 butterfly in 1:12.61 and Hannah King scored 119.55 points to win the 1-meter dive for the Panthers.
Troy Eberline notched a first place for the Panthers in the boys meet, winning the 200 individual medley in 2:35.70.
Complete results from both meets will be available in Monday's Peninsula Clarion.
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