Kodiak boys, Palmer girls take region swim titles in Homer pool

Homer’s swim and dive team placed third (girls) and fourth (boys) in the Northern Lights Conference championship meet Saturday, hosted in Homer at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center.

Kenai Central senior Savaii Heaven led the peninsula swimmers with two region victories in the day’s finals, finally capturing a region crown that had eluded him the three previous years.

“It (feels) pretty good, but I’m more excited about the times than the wins,” Heaven said. “If you take a big enough pool of people, there’s always going to be some really fast people, so you should really race yourself, so I’m really happy because I PR’d.”

The day ended with the Kodiak boys and Palmer girls taking home the team championships. It is the 10th straight region boys crown for the Bears, but the first girls team title for the Moose in 29 years, breaking a team stranglehold that Kodiak and Soldotna had shared since 2007. The Kodiak girls had won nine of the previous 11 years, while SoHi won the other two, but Saturday’s team title was the first for the Palmer girls since 1989.

The Homer girls took third with 52, points, while the boys team took fourth with 32 points.

The Soldotna girls finished second in their bid to add to the titles they won in 2015 and 2016, while the boys runner-up trophy went to Kenai.

Seward freshman sensation Lydia Jacoby said that while the breaststroke title was something she knew she could get, her first individual region title Saturday, the girls 200 individual medley, came as more of a shock, especially with Homer sophomore Madison Story in the field.

“I thought this meet, she’d have that race in the bag,” Jacoby said. “I was really surprised when I won.”

Story led the halfway mark after two legs, but with Jacoby’s breaststroke prowess, the third leg proved to be the difference as the Seward phenom passed Story and pulled away.

“When I race and I know I’ve swum as well as I can, I can never remember my race,” she said. “This one I could remember … I was just thinking how much it hurt.”

Story and Jacoby have competed against each other for years, going back to club swimming, and are good friends out of the pool.

Story, however, said the weekend just didn’t turn out her way with a second-place finish in the 200 IM and a Friday disqualification in the 100 backstroke preliminaries.

“I was off my splits by a second (in the IM), and I didn’t work my backstroke very well,” Story said. “After I saw Lydia was a full body length ahead of me, I just gave up on my freestyle.”

On the boys side, Homer’s Clayton Arndt picked up a region championship in front of his home supporters with a win in the boys 50 free in a time of 22.38 seconds, nipping second-place Ethan Evans of SoHi by a tenth of a second.

Evans had two narrow losses on the day, with the second coming to Connor Spanos of Seward, who won the boys 100 butterfly. Spanos out-touched Evans at the wall by a second to pick up the title.

The Homer girls also picked up a championship title in the 200 meter medley relay, with Story, Adeline Berry, Alia Bales and Kaylin Anderson winning the race in 1:54.56.

Heaven took home NLC Male Athlete of the Year honors, while Jacoby received NLC Female Athlete of the Year thanks to two region titles, including an NLC record in the girls 100-yard breaststroke. NLC Coach of the Year honors went to Palmer’s Christine Morgan.

The day saw two conference records officially go down, starting in the girls diving event as Wasilla’s Jayde Chan erased the old mark of 415 points held by Rachel Kennedy, posting a new best mark of 427.85.

Later in the afternoon, Jacoby crushed the former region record in the girls 100-yard breaststroke, winning with a blazing time of 1 minute, 3.05 seconds, to break the 2010 mark of 1:05.73 held by Kodiak’s Laura Griffing.

It was the second time this year that Jacoby eclipsed not only the region record, but the current state record as well in the event, a 1:04.50 by Griffing. Since state records can only be set at the state meet, Jacoby said she’d like to change that next week. Jacoby said she’d like to officially lower the state record to under 1:02.

“It felt really good to know I can swim that, and now I’m going for the state record officially,” Jacoby said. “Before I finish high school, I want to break a minute.”

While Saturday represented the first two NLC individual titles for Heaven in his career at KCHS, the senior was all about setting his personal-best backstroke time of 53.52 seconds, especially after he battled a sickness this week. Heaven said he hopes the time will put him in the title conversation at state next week.

“That’s faster than I went last year, and everyone who beat me last year is gone,” Heaven said. “I think I’ll be able to pull a faster time at state, but there’s some really fast guys. It’ll be a really close race.”

Kenai head coach Winter Heaven — Savaii’s older brother — said he was happy to see the big results after a hard year of training.

“Seeing the excitement on his face afterward, I’m just glad to see that as a coach,” coach Heaven said. “We did what we came here to do.”

Heaven’s Kardinals teammate Koda Poulin also had a big day with a victory in the boys 500 freestyle, dominating with a time of 5:09.85, more than 15 seconds ahead of second-place.

The day was also punctuated by a top-two finish for Soldotna in the boys diving final with senior Kylin Welch taking the gold and teammate Sam Skolnik grabbing second.

Welch said he and Skolnick saw a lot of hard work pay off with the big moment.

“Just as much as our own coach does, we coach each other as well,” Welch said. “We always help each other out, and it definitely pays off.”

Welch, who considers himself a contender for the state championship next week, said the dive he thinks clinched the title for him was a forward 1 1/2 with a full twist, which Welch said typically pulls in the most points.

“That’s one of my best dives,” he said “I’m pretty proud with how it turned out.”

SoHi head coach Angie Brennan said Welch and Skolnick’s performances provided a big highlight for the boys team, and credited diving coach Dennis Reger for bringing the two divers up.

“The boys did great,” Brennan said. “The diving one-two was way cool, we were pretty excited about that.”

Brennan said missing out on the girls team title was a disappointment, and added that Palmer’s individual wins helped overcome SoHi’s more consistent results. Palmer picked up four of the 12 event wins while SoHi just had one win, freshman Madison Snyder in the girls 500-yard freestyle.

“First place makes a big difference,” Brennan said. “Palmer had more than a couple first and second places.”

Palmer’s big winner was freestyle specialist Gretchen Snelders, who swept the 50 and 100 free events.

Snyder’s win in the girls endurance race, the 500 free, proved to be a battle against the elements as well as her competitors. Snyder got the win in 5:46.73, just two seconds ahead of Kenai’s Rachael Pitsch. Snyder said her goggles fogged up early in the race, ramping up the challenge.

“I couldn’t see the (lap number) cards,” Snyder explained. “When you’re racing someone, you realize when they pick up the speed, and if you’re trying to keep up with them, you pace with them as much as you can.”

Snyder said the win took her by surprise after not targeting a region title in the preseason, but next week’s state meet will be a different experience.

“I could get last, or I could get third,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll get first.”

The region champion in each event earns an automatic berth to state, while the next 12 fastest times in the state in each event also qualify.

Homer News reporter Megan Pacer contributed to this report.

Northern Lights Conference swimming and diving championships

Saturday finals at Homer High School


Team results

1. Palmer, 77 points; 2. Soldotna, 67; 3. Homer, 52; 4. Kodiak, 51; 5. Colony, 29; 6. Kenai Central, 21; 7. Wasilla, 17; 8. Seward, 14; 9. Unalaska, 2.

Individual results

200 medley relay — 1. Homer (Anderson, Bales, Story, Berry), 1:54.56; 2. Palmer, 1:54.72; 3. Kodiak, 1:54:94; 4. Soldotna, 1:57.10; 5. Colony, 2:00.94; 6. Unalaska, 2:09.97.

200 free — 1. Leslie Spear, Kod, 1:59.36; 2. Ellyse Russell, Pal, 1:59.74; 3. Taylor Nelson, Col, 2:04.83; 4. Adeline Berry, Hom, 2:06.34; 5. Madelyn Brennan, Sol, 2:11.54; 6. Alex Juliussen, Sol, 2:12.34.

200 IM — 1. Lydia Jacoby, Sew, 2:11.86; 2. Madison Story, Hom, 2:15.36; 3. Alexis Mattson, Col, 2:16.61; 4. Devon Cummiskey, Kod, 2:18.38; 5. Madison Snyder, Sol, 2:22.40; 6. Ashtyn Petersen, Pal, 2:27.15.

50 free — 1. Gretchen Snelders, Pal, 24.96; 2. Sydney Juliussen, Sol, 25.51; 3. Alia Bales, Hom, 25.56; 4. Madelyn Barkman, Sol, 25.77; 5. Riley Reese, Ken, 26.33; 6. Ella Blanton-Yourkowski, Hom, 26.65.

Diving — 1. Jayde Chan, Was, 427.85; 2. Carrie Mayer, Was, 387.75; 3. Chloe Hartman, Pal, 343.00; 4. Sayuri Seto, Kod, 338.55; 5. Tyler Coffman, Pal, 325.30; 6. Elianah Micael, Kod, 320.15.

100 butterfly — 1. Devon Cummiskey, Kod, 59.15; 2. Adeline Berry, Hom, 1:02.02; 3. Julia Anderson, Ken, 1:06.46; 4. Katie Creglow, Sol, 1:07.33; 5. Dea Sustaita, Sol, 1:10.76; 6. Ally Ferguson, Pal, 1:11.16.

100 free — 1. Gretchen Snelders, Pal, 54.72; 2. Ellyse Russell, Pal, 55.22; 3. Sydney Juliussen, Sol, 55.47; 4. Madelyn Brennan, Sol, 56.11; 5. Riley Reese, Ken, 57.23; 6. Taylor Nelson, Col, 57.25.

500 free — 1. Madison Snyder, Sol, 5:46.73; 2. Rachael Pitsch, Ken, 5:48.86; 3. Kortney Birch, Sol, 5:54.34; 4. Joscelyn Barrette, Was, 5:56.28; 5. Emily Hubert, Kod, 5:59.37; 6. Kathleen Barr, Col, 6:11.11.

200 free relay — 1. Palmer (Petersen, Beck, Russell, Snelders), 1:42.06; 2. Homer, 1:42.44; 3. Soldotna, 1:42.71; 4. Colony, 1:46.91; 5. Kenai, 1:51.03; 6. Wasilla, 1:54.22.

100 backstroke — 1. Lindsay Musgrave, Pal, 1:05.64; 2. Darby McMillan, Sol, 1:07.70; 3. Kaylin Anderson, Hom, 1:07.84; 4. Josephine Rogness, Col, 1:08.44; 5. Kameela Fletcher, Pal, 1:09.91; 6. Addi Rogers, Kod, 1:10.11.

100 breaststroke — 1. Lydia Jacoby, Sew, 1:03.05; 2. Leslie Spear, Kod, 1:08.43; 3. Alexis Mattson, Col, 1:10.53; 4. Ashtyn Petersen, Pal, 1:12.06; 5. Katie Creglow, Sol, 1:12.13; 6. Maria Beck, Pal, 1:13.15.

400 free relay — 1. Kodiak (Cummiskey, Hubert, Nicholson, Spear), 3:56.58; 2. Palmer, 3:58.80; 3. Soldotna, 4:04.45; 4. Kenai, 4:08.12; 5. Colony, 4:11.08; 6. Homer, 4:12.49.


Team results

1. Kodiak, 100; 2. Kenai Central, 64; 3. Soldotna, 43; 4. Homer, 32; 5. Colony, 30; 6. Unalaska, 17; 7. Wasilla, 15; 8. Palmer, 14; 9. Seward, 11; 10. Cordova, 2.

Individual results

200 medley relay — 1. Kodiak (Rocheleau, Hocum, Dumm, Speth), 1:41.45; 2. Kenai, 1:43.20; 3. Soldotna, 1:48.06; 4. Colony, 1:49.15; 5. Unalaska, 1:52.93; Homer DQ.

200 free — 1. Nathan James, Kod, 1:49.63; 2. Patrick Peralta, Kod, 1:50.74; 3. Connor Spanos, Sew, 1:52.15; 4. Koda Poulin, Ken, 1:54.72; 5. Owen Rolph, Ken, 1:56.54; 6. Kaeson Dalrymple-Sorenson, Pal, 1:59.87.

200 IM — Konnor Kolberg, Col, 2:03.63; 2. Ian Rocheleau, Kod, 2:04.94; 3. Nevin Lee, Kod, 2:07.57; 4. Teddy Handley, Hom, 2:10.01; 5. Theo Castellani, Hom, 2:13.92; 6. Peter Anderson, Ken, 2:17.54.

50 free — 1. Clayton Arndt, Hom, 22.38; 2. Ethan Evans, Sol, 22.48; 3. Camren Hancock, Was, 22.49; 4. Adam Nguyen, Una, 22.76; 5. Gavin Speth, Kod, 23.11; 6. Sorin Sorenson, Ken, 23.66.

Diving — 1. Kylin Welch, Sol, 491.70; 2. Sam Skolnick, Sol, 428.55; 3. Eli Krozel, Col, 422.90; 4. Kade Reynolds, Was, 350.50; 5. Joe Cooper, Col, 273.90; 6. Rio Shemet-Pitcher, Hom, 244.50.

100 butterfly — 1. Connor Spanos, Sew, 54.08; 2. Ethan Evans, Sol, 55.05; 3. Konnor Kolberg, Col, 55.43; 4. Owen Rolph, Ken, 55.84; 5. Jake Nelson, Hom, 56.17; 6. Peter Anderson, Ken, 57.98.

100 free — 1. Savaii Heaven, Ken, 48.83; 2. Clayton Arndt, Hom, 49.24; 3. Nathan James, Kod, 49.60; 4. Jackson Krug, Kod, 50.94; 5. Gavin Speth, Kod, 53.81; 6. Trevor Bagley, Ken, 54.26.

500 free — 1. Koda Poulin, Ken, 5:09.85; 2. Kaeson Dalrymple-Sorenson, Pal, 5:25.45; 3. Jacob Hengen, Kod, 5:31.52; 4. Jeremy Kupferschmid, Sol, 5:48.19; 5. Skyler Rodriguez, Hom, 5:48.53; 6. Aidan Skonberg, Kod, 5:49.52.

200 free relay — 1. Kodiak (Speth, Lee, Krug, James), 1:31.03; 2. Kenai, 1:32.91; 3. Homer, 1:33.38; 4. Soldotna, 1:34.94; 5. Colony, 1:35.85; 6. Cordova, 1:42.95.

100 backstroke — 1. Savaii Heaven, Ken, 53.52; 2. Ian Rocheleau, Kod, 55.12; 3. Adam Nguyen, Una, 55.70; 4. Patrick Peralta, Kod, 59.03; 5. Theo Castellani, Hom, 1:01.24; 6. Aleks Tokalich, Col, 1:04.24.

100 breaststroke — 1. Anders Hocum, Kod, 1:00.79; 2. Camren Hancock, Was, 1:02.43; 3. Wesley Dumm, Kod, 1:03.93; 4. Miles Laughlin, Was, 1:03.97; 5. Nevin Lee, Kod, 1:04.43; 6. Trevor Bagley, Ken, 1:07.20.

400 free relay — 1. Kodiak (Rocheleau, Peralta, Krug, James), 3:22.90; 2. Kenai, 3:38.57; 3. Palmer, 3:41.90; 4. Unalaska, 3:42.05; 5. Soldotna, 3:47.88; 6. Colony, 4:02.52.

Soldotna’s Ethan Evans competes in the boys 100-yard butterfly final Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 at the Northern Lights Conference championship swim meet at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Ethan Evans competes in the boys 100-yard butterfly final Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 at the Northern Lights Conference championship swim meet at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)