Lauren Kuhns swims to a third-place finish in the 100 backstroke at the Kenai Invitational, Oct. 4.-Photo by Barbara Smith

Lauren Kuhns swims to a third-place finish in the 100 backstroke at the Kenai Invitational, Oct. 4.-Photo by Barbara Smith

Mariners take to water, place third in Kenai

The Mariner swim and dive team claimed third place at the five-team Kenai Invitational at Kenai Central High School on Saturday.

“Eighty percent of the races were best times for our swimmers for a total of 32.35 seconds of improvement,” said Head Coach Scott Smith.

Soldotna had a double win, with both the girls and boys teams taking first place, Kenai’s girls and boys teams took second, Homer anchored third, Unalaska was in fourth and Seward in fifth.

“Top honors go to Lauren Kuhns who placed first in the 200 free with a time of 2:12.54,” said Smith. “Swimming a hard-fought battle against Celestina Castro of Kenai Central, Kuhns out-touched her by .11 seconds.”

The 200 free is a short sprint, “but long enough that it really challenges your mental preparations and conditioning,” said Smith, calling it “probably the toughest race to win.”

At the 125-yard mark, Smith saw Kuhns drop her head and “knew then that she would do everything she could to win the race.”

In addition to winning the 200 free, Kuhns placed third in the 100 back with a time of 1:10.22.

Posting a second place in the 200 IM, Griffin Downey and Cheyanne Smith had times of 2:21.04 and 2:38.30, respectively. Leo Castellani scored a third in the 200 free and 100 butterfly, with best times in each of the events.

Only .08 seconds separated Aurora Shadle and Soldotna’s Jenna Hansen in the 50 freestyle. Hansen took second, and Shadle took third with a time of 27.87.

“Other notable efforts came from Crystal Crane, Hayden Chase, Zach Nelson and Thomas Vanek who all achieved best times in each of their races,” said Smith. “Jenna Fabich had the most improvement in the 100 free, dropping 5.88 seconds while placing sixth in the event with a 1:12.10.”

Diving for the Mariners, Ian Hall’s score of 200.05 gave him a first-place finish, with teammates Ren Carroll in second and Daniel Wiest in third. On the girls side, Kimberly Bales and Ani Metz scored a second and third, respectively.

This week, the Mariners are gearing up to face an anticipated field of eight other competing swim teams in the weekend Seward Invite.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at

Kenai Invitational

Saturday – Kenai Central

Girls team results: 1. Soldotna, 105; 2. Kenai, 37; 3. Homer, 26; 4. Unalaska, 11; 5. Seward, 5.

Girls 200 freestyle: 1. Lauren Kuhns, 2:12.54

Girls 200 IM: 2. Cheyanne Smith, 2:38.30

Girls 50 freestyle: 3. Aurora Shadle, 27:87

Girls 100 freestyle: 6. Jenna Fabich, 1:12.10

Girls 200 freestyle relay: 3. Homer, 2:03.66

Girls 100 backstroke: 3. Lauren Kuhns, 1:10.22; 5. Jenna Fabich, 1:30.43

Girls 400 freestyle relay: 4. Homer, 4:26.26

Girls diving: 2. Kimberly Bales, Homer, 138.25; 3. Ani Metz, 137.60

Boys team results: 1. Soldotna, 83; 2. Kenai, 51; 3. Homer, 36; 4. Unalaska, 15; 5. Seward, 1.

Boys 200 medley relay: 1. Homer, 2:05.00

Boys 200 freestyle: 3. Leo Castellani, 2:05.72

Boys 200 IM: 2. Griffin Downey, 2:21.04

Boys 100 butterfly: 3. Leo Castellani, 1:04.63

Boys 100 freestyle: 3. Thomas Vanek, 1:03.32; 4. Zach Nelson, 1:04.03

Boys 200 freestyle relay: 5. Homer, 2:05.45

Boys diving: 1. Ian Hall, 200.05; 2. Ren Carroll, 163.55; 3. Daniel Wiest, 1:45.55

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