Kenai Central senior Landon Mishler is the only athlete from the Kenai Peninsula entering the state swimming and diving championships at Bartlett High School today and Saturday with the top seed time in his event.
Homer, which swept the Region III swimming and diving championships, leads the peninsula with 10 individuals and four relay teams set to make an appearance at Bartlett. Soldotna has seven individuals, Kenai Central has five individuals and two relays and Seward has three individuals.
The swimming preliminaries begin at 2 p.m. Friday, while the girls diving preliminaries are at 5 p.m. and the boys diving preliminaries are at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the swimming and diving finals start at 1 p.m.
Mishler enters the 50-yard freestyle with a seed time of 22.28 seconds. The only other swimmer with a seed time breaking 23 seconds is West High’s Max Rosefigura, whose seed time is 22.79 seconds.
Kenai Central coach Lee Moore said Mishler’s strength in the race is his start. Mishler is 6-foot-1 and he uses that frame to the utmost on his start, usually emerging from under water far ahead of the pack.
However, Mishler’s start was not well done at the region meet, leading Moore to say Mishler can go faster.
“He had a deep start on the 50 at regions,” Moore said. “I think he can swim in the upper 21s, but as it was he was in the low 22s.”
Mishler, who was named the male Region III swimmer of the year, also will swim the 100 freestyle, although three swimmers have faster seed times than Mishler in that event.
Others qualifying for state for the Kardinals are Andy Knowles in diving, Christopher Hall in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, Amy Jahrig in the 100 backstroke and Adam DeMello in the 100 backstroke. The boys 200 medley relay and boys 200 freestyle relay also qualified for the Kardinals.
Jahrig, a junior, had off-season shoulder surgery and didn’t start swimming until late in the year. She then qualified for state despite being sick at the region meet.
Hall, a junior, just missed qualifying for state last year in the 500 freestyle, but this year he was able to find his niche in two different strokes. DeMello qualified in the backstroke despite finishing sixth in the event at the region race.
Finally, Moore said Knowles is really coming around and that he wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish in the top eight at state.
Soldotna coach Sohail Marey wanted to take nine or 10 kids to state, but three athletes with illnesses at the region meet made attaining that number harder.
“That’s how this whole season has been going,” Marey said. “We’ve been plagued with sickness and health problems throughout the year.”
Eve Green came back from a late-season sickness to qualify in both the 100 and 200 freestyles. She has the fourth-fastest seed time in the 200 freestyle and the fifth-fastest in the 100 freestyle.
Soldotna also will be represented by divers Sasha Porter and Tory Coursen. Marey said Porter could finish among the top three divers in the state while Coursen also could get to the finals.
The final girl to qualify for the Stars is Marit Hartvigson is the 100 breaststroke. Hartvigson has a seed time of 1:14.88. Marey says she has a goal of swimming 1:12. If she does that, Marey will be thrilled.
The boys to qualify for Soldotna are Colin Dudley in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, Quinn Bennett in the 500 freestyle and Keegan Birchfield in the 100 backstroke.
Marey said Dudley had his best times in both his events at the region meet. The coach wants Dudley to improve on those times at state.
Bennett overcame a couple of hurdles to make state. He broke his leg in April and still limps on it. He also got very ill in mid-October but recovered to make state.
Birchfield also went to state last year. Marey said it would be great if he could make the finals and score some points for the Stars.
Seward will be led into the meet by Jacqueline Van Driessche, the Region III female swimmer of the year. Van Driessche has the fourth-fastest seed time in the 50 freestyle and the second-fastest seed time in the 100 backstroke.
Homer had multiple swimmers qualify in multiple events, including Anthony Augusto, Brian Ritchie, Kevin Wythe, Lauren Bell, John Brennand-Sheffler, Deannie Andree and Lars Matkin.
Peninsula state qualifiers
HOMER Sterling Gillon (200 freestyle); Anthony Augusto (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Brian Ritchie (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly); Kevin Wythe (200 individual medley, 500 freestyle); Kyenna McKinstry (50 freestyle); Lauren Bell (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Patrick Lane (50 freestyle); John Brennand-Sheffler (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Deannie Andree (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke); Lars Matkin (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke); Girls 200 freestyle relay (Kyenna McKinstry, Elli Matkin, Grace Harrison, Jorden Greiner, Amy Fell, Lauren Bel, Jaclyn Arndt, Deannie Andree); Boys 200 freestyle relay (Wilfrid Roedl, Brian Ritchie, Lars Matkin, Patrick Lane, John Brennand-Sheffler, Anthony Augusto, Sterling Gillon, Joe DeCino); Girls 400 freestyle relay (Kyenna McKinstry, Elli Matkin, Grace Harrison, Jorden Greiner, Lauren Bell, Nyssa Baechler, Jaclyn Arndt, Deannie Andree); Boys 400 freestyle relay (Anthony Augusto, John Brennand-Sheffler, Joe DeCino, Wilfrid Roedl, Sterling Gillon, Patrick Lane, Lars Matkin, Brian Ritchie).
KENAI CENTRAL Boys 200-yard medley relay (Luke Baumer, Adam DeMello, Christopher Hall, Freddie John, Landon Mishler, Ben Phillips, Billy Ritchie, Alex Sonnichsen); Landon Mishler (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Andy Knowles (diving); Christopher Hall (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke); Boys 200 freestyle relay (Luke Baumer, Christopher Hall, Billy Ritchie, Adam DeMello, Landon Mishler, Ben Phillips, Alex Sonnichsen); Amy Jahrig (100 backstroke); Adam DeMello (100 backstroke).
SEWARD Jong Kim (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Jacqueline Van Driessche (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke); Kenny Audette (100 breaststroke).
SOLDOTNA Eve Green (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Tory Coursen (diving); Sasha Porter (diving); Colin Dudley (100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke); Quinn Bennett (500 freestyle); Keegan Birchfield (100 backstroke); Marit Hartvigson (100 breaststroke).
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