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SoHi's Petersen gets healthy

Senior overcomes ills to win fourth straight Soldotna Pentathlon

Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2000

Up until Friday night's 2000 Soldotna Pentathlon, something wasn't right with Stars swimmer Lucas Petersen.

The senior came into the 2000 prep season shouldering great expectations after winning two state titles as a sophomore and another as a junior.

The idea was to go out with a bang in his final year, but once the high school season began so did the problems.

"Lucas has not been feeling well since the high school season started," Soldotna coach Sohail Marey said. "He'd always tell me he was feeling weak, sore and tired."

Petersen had two blood tests done -- one for mono and the other for iron deficiency -- and both showed there was no problem. Minor asthma also was suspected, but proof of that failed to surface.

This week in practice, Marey started noticing signs in Petersen's body language and energy level that pointed to recovery. When he talked to Petersen after each practice, the senior confirmed that, indeed, he was feeling better.

After Friday's Pentathlon, however, there was no need for Marey to ask.

Petersen stunned himself and his coach by turning in the best performance in the history of the Pentathlon, in which all competitors swim the 100-yard individual medley, 50 freestyle, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke. Times of all five events are added up to determine the winner.

Petersen set meet records in four of the meet's five events, lowering his own meet record in two of those cases. His five swims added up to 2 minutes, 31.41 seconds, lowering Petersen's 1999 meet record of 2:36.16.

"I'm pretty shocked," Petersen said after winning his fourth Pentathlon. "I didn't think I'd swim that fast. When I came into this meet, I wasn't doing that great at all.

"Maybe it was because this was the first meet I knew I had to be fast. I was focused on the races."

The event that turned things around for Petersen was the 100 individual medley, which is the meet's first swim. Petersen finished in 52.99 seconds, lowering his 1999 meet record of 57.71.

"I was so happy for him after that first race I almost cried," said SoHi senior Kayla Schneider, who won the girls overall title. "With his talent, it was just so great to see him swimming well again."

Petersen's closest challenger was, as usual, teammate and senior Joshua Gemmell. Gemmell turned in the second best overall time in the meet's history with a 2:34.59 and lowered his meet record in the 50 breaststroke to 27.04 seconds, but he was not pleased with his performance.

"I just didn't swim well," he said.

That right there may explain why the SoHi duo was 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the field Friday. Any of the other 53 swimmers would have been thrilled to have Gemmell's performance, but it left him dejected.

"It really helps to have someone to push you," Petersen said. "I know I couldn't have gone as fast as I did if he wasn't here.

"I know he wanted to swim faster, but he'll be back."

While Petersen won his title by holding off his old rival in Gemmell, Schneider overcame a flock of young teammates for her first Pentathlon victory.

Marey came into the meet figuring the title could go to three freshmen, a couple of sophomores, a junior or Schneider on his team. He also knew Homer junior Monica Ulmer was a threat.

As a senior, Schneider was the only one of the contenders who had that "this is my last chance" feeling on her side and she used it to crest to victory.

"I really wanted to win this meet today because it was my senior year," said Schneider, who won her first Pentathlon. "I swam with a lot of energy today."

Schneider won with a total of 3:05.46, while Soldotna sophomore Jenna Syverson was second with 3:06.03 and Soldotna freshman Abby Kiffmeyer was third at 3:06.15. Ulmer finished fourth with 3:06.80.

"She came focused and ready to win," Syverson said of Schneider. "She's definitely taken over the role of the leader on our team.

"After Ali (Smith) left, she really stepped it up."

Syverson swam her freestyle in 25.28 seconds, just .07 seconds off the meet record set by Kenai's Mendy Benson in 1991.

"I actually know Mendy Benson pretty well," Syverson said. "She wanted me to break her record."

While it didn't happen this year, both Marey and Syverson are looking forward to adjusting the mark next year.

One other thing to watch for next year is improvement is the breaststroke of Kiffmeyer. The freshman was solid in all the strokes Friday except for the breaststroke, where she finished at 37.47 seconds. Schneider swam the event in 33.96, while Syverson finished it in 34.25.

The Stars took both the team titles at the meet, with both the Homer boys and girls finishing second.

The Kenai boys, behind a seventh from Ben Haring and an eighth from J.D. Pault, finished third, as did the Colony girls.

Kenai 11-dive meet

Soldotna's Matt Medina and Palmer's Rachel Knapp both won titles Friday at the Kenai 11-Dive Meet.

Medina totaled 394.20 in his 11 dives to emerge triumphant. Colony's Robert Estrada was second with 341.30, Palmer's Pat Medbery was third with 329.95, Palmer's Eric Hansen was fourth with 295.80 and Palmer's Jon Arrington was fifth with 212.65.

On the girls side, Knapp earned her win by garnering 349.75 points. Soldotna's Erin Orth was second with 346.50 points, Kenai's Morgan Hansen was third with 326.55, Kenai's Rachel Knowles was fourth with 325.30 and Soldotna's Trisha Ozhuwan was fifth with 271.00.



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