Sharing is an important lesson many children learn young and carry with them into their adult years. The Soldotna High boys swimming team exemplified the virtues of sharing Saturday when it and the Juneau-Douglas boys tied to share the Alaska School Activities Association State Swimming and Diving Championship team title at the Bartlett natatorium in Anchorage.
In a meet where the favorite to win was anybody's guess right down to the last second, the lead in team points changed four times in the last four races.
At the end of the day, the Stars found themselves going into the final race in second overall with 59 team points, trailing Juneau-Douglas by six. The Stars needed to finish two places ahead of the Crimson Bears in the 400-yard freestyle relay to tie -- and Soldotna had the fastest seed time while Juneau-Douglas had the slowest-seeded team in the finals.
When the starter went off, there was no question that the Stars would fly to a victory in the race, with senior Ty Mann-Schweigert quickly pulling away from the pack on the first leg. On the second leg, junior Aladean Marey extended the lead. Junior Leo Grasso held his ground on the third leg and Soldotna didn't look back.
But had the Stars swimmers glanced over their shoulders, they would have seen the tortoise to their jack-rabbit pace, Juneau-Douglas, gaining just enough ground to stay in the overall race and make things interesting.
When the churning waters finally cleared, there was a brief pause -- Juneau-Douglas finished third. With Soldotna adding 18 first-place points to its final score and the Bears gaining 12 for their third-place finish, both teams finished deadlocked with 77 points each.
Service finished second in the relay, but had only enough points to place third overall.
The Soldotna swimmers were enlightened by the circumstances of their victories.
"I learned a lot about victory today," said senior Star, Nick Sorrell, who powered in the final leg of the final relay. "I learned that you give God the glory whether you get first, second or share."
Sorrell was no stranger to sharing, however. After finishing second behind Bartlett's Leon RoseFigura in the 200 freestyle, Sorrell rushed from behind to catch and tie with RoseFigura in the 100 freestyle.
Sorrell also watched as Mann-Schweigert reached the finish line of the 50 freestyle at the same time as Lathrop's Sam Wolfe. Mann-Schweigert said he was just happy to finish his last individual race by reaching a personal milestone.
"I got 21," he said of his personal best 21.97-second finish. "I couldn't be happier that another person went 21. It's a perfect way to end my senior year to get to share my glory with someone else."
The Stars had to struggle, however, to reach their first-place finish. In spite of the wave of enthusiasm created by the girls' victory in their 200 medley relay, the boys were unable to come up with more than third place. The foursome of Grasso, Marey, Mann-Schweigert and senior Clayton Harrison finished with a 1:41.27 behind Juneau and Lathrop, respectively.
The winning teams may have been helped out by a Lathrop mishap, however, when the Malemutes' leading swimmer Travis Williams was disqualified from the meet for violating ASAA regulations. Williams was caught shaving his head in the locker room, a breach of two rules that prohibit shaving of any kind on the premises of a meet.
Juneau-Douglas coach John Wray said he didn't care what the circumstances were that led to his boys team's first state title since 1984.
"A win's a win," he said. "Coming into the meet, I felt like we had a chance to win."
Wray, who celebrated a birthday last Sunday, said his team brought him a great gift.
"I told them I wanted a trophy," he said.
The Homer team finished fourth, just 5 points out of third, and at one point during the meet was tied for second place. First-year Mariner coach Bridget Kuhns said her team proved that they were not to be taken lightly.
"We've never been in the running before," she said. "It changes everybody's focus. I think there was a different kind of racing from our team because we felt like, for once, we were contenders."
Soldotna won its first team title since 1993, when Kirk Holingsworth, John Richards, Mark Best, Bill Hansen and Deryk Anderson took home state honors. The 2002 team also consisted of five swimmers and coach Sohail Marey pointed out that, in winning this year's championship, his 400 freestyle relay team surpassed a school record set in the 1993 state meet. The record was 3:15, a time he said his team was aiming for all year and broke when they finished in 3:14.89.
"If you talk to these kids, they'll be honored to be compared to (1993)," Marey said.
He said what his team lacked Saturday in actual members, it made up for in commitment.
"Sometimes, it's not really the numbers," Marey said. "It's quality and the big heart. These kids have big hearts."
STATE SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
TEAM SCORES -- 1. Soldotna, Juneau-Douglas, 77 (Tie); 3. Service, 69; 4. Homer, 64; 5. North Pole, 55; 6. Dimond, 49; 7. Lathrop, 45; 8. Kodiak, 49; 9. Bartlett, 24; 10. Chugiak, 26; 11. East, 11; 12. Ketchican, 10; 13. Valdez, 9; 14. Pacific Norther Academy, 5; 15. West, 4; 16. Cordova, Palmer, 3 (Tie); 18. Cordova, 3; 19. West Valley, 1.
200 MEDLEY RELAY -- 1. Palmer, 1:44.50; 2. Homer, 1:52.45; 3. Soldotna, 1:55.80; 4. Valdez, 1:57.17; 5. Skyview, 1:59.21; 6. Wasilla, 2:00.36.
200 FREESTYLE -- 1. Leon RoseFigura, Bar, 1:44.09; 2. Nick Sorrell, Sol, 1:44.31; 3. Luke Thomas, NP, 1:45.81; 4. Dusty Woster, NP, 1:49.14; 5. Steven Burnham, Ser, 1:49.29; 6. Ben Kuhns, Hom, 1:49.42.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY -- 1. Paul Hughes, Jun, 1:56.18; 2.Gilbert Raposa, Dim, 2:01.44; 3. Kevin Vik, Chug, 2:01.70; 4. Kirk Fishel, Jun, 2:02.29; 5. Nathan Rose, Kod, 2:03.14; 6. Chris Meyer, East, 2:04.30.
50 FREESTYLE -- 1. Ty Mann-Schweigrt, Sol, Sam Wolfe, Lath (Tie), 21.97. 3. Gerry Zeek, Serv, 22.44; 4. Jake Bell, Hom, 22.51; 5. Ben Voetberg, Ketch, 22.55; 6. Treg McLauglin, NP, 22.74.
DIVING -- 1. Chad Frichtl, Chug, 476. 70; 2. Chris Bancroft, Bart, 394.85; 3. Casey Willsi, Serv, 377.25; 4. David Arlington, PNA, 357.80; 5. Wilson McDonald, Serv, 332.90; 6. Owen Barrington, Dim, 38.55.
100 BUTTERFLY -- 1. Luke Thomas, NP, 53.05; 2. Greg Otero, Dim, 53.82; 3. Evan Smith, Hom, 54.23; 4. Jamey Smith, Hom, 54.93; 5. Kreg Lesage, NP, 55.30; 6. Clint Severns, Lath, 55.62.
100 FREESTYLE -- 1. Nick Sorrell, Sol, Leon, RoseFigura, Bart (Tie), 48.55; 3. Steven, Burnahm, Serv,48.62; 4. Gerry Zeek, Serv, 49.45; 5. Jake Bell, Hom, 49.62; 6. Ben Voetbreg, Ketch, 49.80.
500 FREESTYLE -- 1. Jimmy Rutter, Val, 4:51.85; 2. Nathan Rose, Kod, 4:52.88; 3. Kevin Vik, Chug, 4:53.05; 4. Dan Quay, Serv, 5:00.12; 5. Tyler Hennon, Jun, 5:01.29; 6. Jake Kreuzenstein, Jun, 5:01.95.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY -- 1. Soldotn (Mann-Schweigert, Harrison, Grasso, Sorrell), 1:28.16; 2. Lathrop, 1:29.90; 3. Service, 1:30.06; 4. Homer, 1:30.44; 5. Dimond, 1:32.82; 6. Juneau-Douglas, 1:34.27.
100 BACKSTROKE -- 1. Kirk Fishek, Jun, 55.80; 2. Ben Kuhns, Hom, 56.55; 3. Joshua Fellwock, Dim, 58.15; 4. Jeramy Yong, Kod, 58.45; 5. Luke Stocker, West, 58.46; 6. Nicholas Cs, Dim, 58.81.
100 BREASTSTROKE -- 1. Paul Hughes, Jun, 58.10; 2. Gilbert Raposa, Dim, 59.13; 3. Andy Vait, Hom, 1:02.09; 4. Dusty Woster, NP, 1:02.54; 5. Clayton Harrison, Sol, 1L02.88; 6. Sean Beecher, Cor, 1:04.01.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY -- 1. Soldotna (Mann-Schweigert, Aladean Marey, Leo Grasso, Nick Sorrell), 3:14.89; 2. Service, 3:17.59; 3. Juneau-Douglas, 3:18.27; 4. North Pole, 3:19.29; 5. Homer, 3:19.52; 6. Kodiak, 3:24.08.
MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR -- Paul Hughs, Juneau-Douglas.
MALE DIVER OF THE YEAR -- Chad Frichtl, Chugiak.
MALE OUTSTANDING COMPETITOR -- Leon RoseFigura, Bartlett.
BOYS SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD -- Chugiak.
BOYS ACADEMIC AWARD -- Ketchikan (3.75 cummulative team GPA)
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