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SoHi's Heaven chases state title

Posted: Friday, November 06, 2009

Soldotna's Winter Heaven's 100-yard butterfly seed time of 51.47 seconds -- which he posted at the Region III swim meet last week -- ranks him No. 1 in the state as he heads into this weekend's state swimming and diving championships.

But he'll have to defeat state record holder Cody Brunette of Juneau-Douglas to earn the title of best butterflier in Alaska.

Brunette, whose seed time is just .33 seconds behind Heaven, set two state records last year, winning the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.19 and the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:40.58. He was also named outstanding swimmer for 2008.

The two will square off today and Saturday at Bartlett High School in Anchorage. Swimming preliminaries begin at 1 p.m. today and diving preliminaries at 3:30 p.m. Swimming and diving finals begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Heaven also has a shot at the 100-yard backstroke crown. Less than half a second separates Heaven from the top-seeded swimmer in the event.

SoHi's Olivia Bowen qualified for the 100 butterfly as well as the 200 individual medley. Her seed times rank her fourth in both events. Bowen set two, new Region III swimming records in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly and earned the girls swimmer of the year award at the region championships.

In the 200 IM, she posted a time of 2:14.34 and a 59.24 in the 100 butterfly. Bowen's record-setting time in the butterfly put her more than six seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

Seward's Ryan O'Leary will look to win the state title in the 100 freestyle. He earned a second-place seed time of 47.42, just .03 seconds behind his close friend and top-seed Jeff Frey of Wasilla.

"It's going to be a tight race," said Seward swim coach Janet Van Driessche.

"Ryan is very dedicated," she said. "He always envisions what he's going to do. He gets himself really, really ready. He really takes it seriously."

O'Leary also qualified for the 200 freestyle. He's seeded second in that event.

Seward's Eileen Audette qualified for the 100 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke.

Like O'Leary, Audette has been swimming for a number of years and is a focused athlete, Van Driessche said.

"They're both very dedicated swimmers," she said. "I think they'll do really well."

Three Homer swimmers qualified for two state events.

Donna McNulty earned a 12th-place seeding in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 100 breaststroke.

"McNulty is one of the fastest breaststrokers in the state," said Homer swim coach Anna Borland-Ivy. "Donna has flawless technique. She's always working on it."

Richard Ginter will be swimming in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. His first-place region finish puts him eighth in state seed times for the 200 IM and 12th in the butterfly.

"Richard is a really good competitor," Borland-Ivy said. "It just comes out in these championship meets."

Marie Schmidt joins McNulty in the 500 freestyle and will also swim in the 200 freestyle. Described as a workhorse by her coach, 500 yards, though a distance race in swimming, isn't far enough for Schmidt, Borland-Ivy said.

"She comes to practice and works really hard," she said. "Marie will have a good meet. She tapers well."

Alder Fletcher qualified for the 100 butterfly and Borland-Ivy said his time will improve at state.

"Every time he swims, he swims faster, faster, faster," she said. "I'm hoping this meet won't be any different."

Mariners divers Lindsey Seneff and Garrett Hall both qualified for the 1-meter dive.

Borland-Ivy said championship meets are exciting because of the possibility of surprise.

"You never know what's going to happen," she said. "There's always an upset. You just hope the upset goes in your favor."

Stars swimmer Randi Freestone qualified for the 100 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke at state. Both Soldotna boys and girls 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays qualified, too.

SoHi's Michaela Shirnberg and Christian Carrico will swim in the 100 breaststroke. Cody Tate qualified for the 1-meter dive.

Kenai Central's Olivia Pfeifer qualified for the 200 and 500 freestyle events. Pfeifer's region performances have her ranked seventh in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 500.

Anders Nyquist qualified for the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

Dylan Wannamaker will be swimming in both the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke at state.

Kards swimmer Kendra Ashwell qualified for the 50 freestyle. Kenai's boys 400-yard freestyle relay also qualified for state.

Skyview's Ryan McMaster qualified for the 50 freestyle.

Mike Nesper can be reached at

Local High School state qualifiers

Soldotna -- Olivia Bowen (200 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Winter Heaven (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Cody Tate (1-meter dive); Randi Freestone (100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Michaela Shirnberg (100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Christian Carrico (100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Alena Newgren (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Sarah Rife (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Sara Mokracek (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Angela Ramponi (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Morgan Lancaster (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Ehren Rickman (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Austin Whitaker (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Sawyer Rickman (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Jacob Trippe (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Mark Youngren (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Joseph Rife (200 medly relay); Landon Anderson (400 freestyle relay).

Kenai -- Olivia Pfeifer (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle realy); Kendra Ashwell (200 freestyle relay, 50 freestyle); Mary Pat Mills (200 freestyle relay); Kaitlyn Louthan (200 freestyle relay); Makenzi Magiera (200 freestyle relay); Sasha Thompson (200 freestyle relay); Lee Ann Magiera (200 freestyle relay); Austin Daly (200 freestyle relay); Dylan Wannamaker (400 freestyle relay, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke); Anders Nyquist (400 freestyle relay, 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly); Gradey Iverson (400 freestyle relay); Tanner Landry (400 freestyle relay); Jake Iverson (400 freestyle relay); Isaac Cryer (400 freestyle relay); Levi Lacey (400 freestyle relay); Ben Gilman (400 freestyle relay).

Homer -- Marie Schmidt (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle); Richard Ginter (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly); Lindsey Seneff (1-meter dive); Garrett Hall (1-meter dive); Alder Fletcher (100 butterfly); Donna McNulty (500 freestyle, 100 breaststroke).

Skyview -- Ryan McMaster (50 freestyle).

Seward -- Ryan O'Leary (100 freestyle, 200 freestyle); Eileen Audette (100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke).


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