There was fierce competition at the Region II swimming and diving championship meet in Soldotna last weekend. The Kodiak Bears swept the meet in both the boys and girls team competition. The Homer High Mariner girls placed seventh of nine teams and the boys tied with Valdez for fourth.
Rising to the top, swimmers Lauren Kuhns, Remi Nagel and Greg Smith and divers Annali Metz and Ian Hall had scores high enough to qualify them for state.
“Our team faced significant adversity on Friday during preliminaries and overcame them with style and a bit of ferocity,” said Scott Smith, the Mariner head swim coach.
Kuhns dropped 21 seconds in her 500 free, “the event she has been training for all season,” said Smith.
In both the 100 fly and 50 free, Nagle placed in the finals. He placed fifth in the 50 and fourth in the 100.
“He swam each event twice and had best times every time he swam. He took top honors of all Homer swimmers,” said Smith. “He’s only a sophomore and is just figuring out that he can swim pretty fast.”
Greg Smith’s time in the 100 back was fast enough to boost him into the next week’s state championship meet at Bartlett, also.
“But how can I not emphasize the incredible swimming by the rest of the team?” said Coach Smith of improved times by Cheyanne Smith, Griffin Downey, Aurora Shadle, Leo Castellani, Crystal Crane, Jenna Fabich, Hayden Chase, Zach Nelson and Thomas Vanek.
“Every Homer swimmer had best times at this meet,” said Smith. “In fact, 67 percent of Friday’s swims were best times and 87 percent of Saturday’s events were best times. When I realize that Homer swimmers have had 80 percent best-time swims in the past three meets and then to accomplish this at regions is truly amazing.”
Dive competition also was an opportunity for the Mariners to show their metal, especially Spencer Warren.
“He had tweaked his knee at practice, so when he got up there (to Regions), it was still sore, but he did each of his dives in warm-ups and then stayed warm in the shower and had a leg brace on that he actually got to wear,” said Harmon Hall, the Mariner head dive coach. “His first dive, he failed. He was hurting. But he went on to finish.”
In spite of a state-qualifying sixth place finish by Metz, Hall said he had to offer some encouragement when he found out she was being critical of herself for not placing higher.
“I said it doesn’t make any difference, she’s going to the state finals. Any kid in the world would be as happy as a clam,” said Hall.”
The outcome of regions has Smith relieved and sad.
“I made a bet with the team early in the season that if six swimmers qualified for state, they could do anything to my hair they wanted. I heard some pretty ‘creative’ ideas during the past few weeks,” he said. “My hair is safe for now, which I am both glad and have sorrow about.”
The state swim and dive competitions at Bartlett begin at 1 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Region III Championships
Oct. 30-Nov. 1, Soldotna High School
Girls team results
1. Kodiak 107; 2. Soldotna 68; 3. Colony 50; 4. Valdez 28; 5. Kenai 25; 6. Palmer 22; 7. Homer 13; 8. Wasilla 12; 9. Seward 2.
Girls individual results
200 medley relay: 6. Homer team of Aurora Shadle, Cheyanne Smith, Lauren Kuhns and Crystal Crane; 2:05.21
200 freestyle: 4. L. Kuhns, 2:07.80
50 freestyle: tie for 6. Cheyanne Smith, 27.00, and Aurora Shadle, 27.00
1 meter dive: 6. Annali Metz, 233.65
500 freestyle: 5. Lauren Kuhns, 5:49.05
200 freestyle relay: 5. Homer team of Jenna Fabich, Aurora Shadle, Cheyanne Smith and Lauren Kuhns, 1:49.28
100 backstroke: 7. Aurora Shadle, 1:09.21
100 breaststroke: 7. Cheyanne Smith, 1:15.20
Boys team results
1. Kodiak 131; 2. Colony 68; 3. Soldotna 65; 4. Wasilla 15; 4. (tie) Valdez 15; 4. (tie) Homer 15; 7. Palmer 13; 8. Kenai 3; 9. Unalaska 1.
Boys individual results
200 freestyle: 9. Leo Castellani, 2:04.10
200 IM: 8. Griffin Downey, 2:20.58
50 freestyle: 5. Remi Nagle, 23.50.
1 meter dive: 5. Ian Hall, 341.10; 8. Ren Carroll, 301.05
100 butterfly: 4. Remi Nagle, 56.22; 7. Leo Castellani, 1:03.46
200 freestyle relay: 3. Homer team of Remi Nagle, Gregory Smith, Griffin Downey and Leo Castellani, 1:38.10
100 backstroke: 7. Gregory Smith, 59:48
100 breaststroke: 7. Griffin Downey, 1:09.14