Thunder Mountain High School senior PJ Foy, and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior Samantha Schwarting, junior Emma Fellman and sophomore Valerie Peimann are on course to capture titles Saturday in the 2023 Alaska School Activities Association Swim & Dive State Championships at Juneau’s Dimond Park Aquatic Center.
“State being in Juneau is really special because most of us have swam at Dimond Park our whole lives,” Schwarting said. “It’s also nice because our friends and family get to come and support us. For me, it’s my senior year so it is even more meaningful to have it at home.”
Held in their home pool for just the third time (prior years were 2013 and 2016), the Crimson Bears and Falcons are welcoming the chance to represent Southeast in front of local fans, friends and parents who have supported most of the athletes from their early days with the Glacier Swim Club.
“This meet is super important to me because this is my very last high school meet and it is at home,” Foy said. “I am super excited that it is in my hometown so that I can race in the pool that I work out in every morning…This team has really shown me a great level of respect and support. I have seen so much support in both good and rough times for everyone. It has been fun for me to be able to see these amazing people grow, I can tell that they are all going to go very far in whatever individual path that they choose for themselves. This last state is for each and every one of them.”
State preliminary races are 10:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Finals begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“We have a great team this year so state will be really fun and exciting,” Schwarting said. “The energy in the building is going to be electric.”
While the Ketchikan Kings boys won their first Southeast Region V title in 24 years last weekend in Sitka, Juneau’s two schools are looking to touch the pool walls faster this weekend.
“Regions was the first step towards a larger goal,” JDHS coach Seth Cayce said. “I thought we swam great there, but we trained a lot of the team for the state meet.”
The Kings boys scored 182 team points last weekend, TMHS 100, Sitka 76, JDHS 69, Craig 51, Petersburg 18 and Wrangell 16.
“It was a great feat,” Ketchikan first year head coach Zach Trudeau said. Trudeau has taken over from Gary Crowe, who he credited with starting the time and dedication needed to reach this height. “I told the team, ‘let’s do it again this weekend.’ It is tough because the bounce back is so quick, but you try to keep that momentum going. The boys are on cloud nine and you want to keep rolling with that and what ever happens, happens and we are good with that.”
On the girls side, TMHS captured the Region V title over JDHS 176-157, CRG had 49, KTN 42, SIT 29, WRG 17 and PSG 10.
“Just as our girls did, our boys swam and dove exceptionally well during the Region V championships,” TMHS coach Josiah Raven Henry Loseby said. “With huge time drops from all seven of our boy swimmers and great improvements from our four boy divers — throwing dives they had trouble nailing down all season. We will continue to work hard and trust each other as we have always done. Wherever that self- and team improvement lands us placing-wise, is where it lands us — but we will always strive to get better.”
TMHS’ Foy won the 100 fly in 50.28 and the 100 breast in 58.73, and will be the top seed in the fly and second seed in the breast at state behind Service senior Preston Kwon (55.11).
The first-place finisher from the finals of each region championship meet and the next 12 fastest times statewide advance to state.
Kayhi senior Trevor Dash (state seeded 4th 53.37) and JDHS junior Matthew Plang (10th 55.06) also earned the 100 fly, and KTN sophomore Evan Dash (4th 1:00.43), WRG’s Jack Roberts (6th 1:01.29), JDHS’ Plang (8th 1:01.74) and JDHS freshman Josh Edwards (15th 1:06.46) qualified in the 100 breast.
Foy was twice selected the Outstanding Competitor of the state meet — in 2021, winning titles in the 200 IM (1:50.55) and 100 breast (state record 55.45), and in 2022 winning titles in the 200 free (1:40.16) and 100 fly (state record 48.46). T. Dash won the 100 breast state title (58.66) last season.
JDHS’ Schwarting captured last weekend’s Region V championship in the 200 free with 1:57.99 and 100 free in 54.40 and will be the top state seed in the longer race, but seeded fourth in the latter (1st Eagle River High School jr. Lola Woodward 52.85; 8th TMHS jr. Deedee Mills 56.39; 9th TMHS jr. Caitlin Sanders 56.53; 11th CRG Ada Creighton 56.90; 13th PSG fr. Brooklyn Whitethorn 56.97).
Southeast speedsters joining Schwarting in the 200 are TMHS fr. Amy Liddle (2nd 1:58.17) and JDHS so. Valerie Peimann (3rd 1:58.86).
JDHS’ Peimann won the girls 500 free (5:21.89) and is the state’s top seed. She will be joined by TMHS’ Liddle (3rd 5:25.04), JDHS jr. Pacific Ricke (4th 5:27.15), SIT fr. Mia Turner (14th 5:50.20) and TMHS jr. Nova Brakes-Hines (14th 5:50.26).
“Our entire team is super excited to have state here in Juneau,” JDHS junior Emma Fellman said. “Just being able to compete at our own pool, in front of so many of our friends and family will make state extra exciting this year.”
Fellman, the defending state champ in the 200 IM (2:07.78), won the region title in the 200 IM with 2:12.71 and the 100 breast title in 1:06.83. Fellman will be seeded second in the 100 breast (1st. Colony sr. Jasmine Anderson 1:03.74; 8th TMHS sr. Olivia Mills 1:10.68; 9th TMHS fr. Kennedy Miller 1:12.32; 12th JDHS jr. Parker Boman 1:13.07) and seeded fourth in the 200 IM (1st Dimond H.S. Caroline Waters 2:09.67; 8th CRG Ada Creighton 2:18.37; 9th JD fr. Avery Smith 2:20.12; 12th TM sr. Gabrielle Anderson 2:22.57; 13th JD sr. Emily Delgado 2:22.99; 15th JD sr. Anita Morrison 2:24.31).
“For me, I always look forward to the state meet because not only do I get to see all my swim friends from all over the state but I get to race against them, which is always really fun,” Fellman said. “This year is even more special because we are losing three of our seniors that have swam with the team for all four years.”
TMHS’ O. Mills won the 50 free region title in 25:04 and is seeded fourth (1st Kenai jr. Amaya Rocheleau 24.44; 5th TM fr. Lily Francis 25.14; 11th PSG Whitethorn 25.96).
TMHS’ Francis won the girls 100 fly in 1:00.65 and is seeded third (1st ERHS so. Reese Woodward; 5th SIT fr. Taryn Fleming 1:02.05; 6th TMHS Miller 1:02.72; 7th JDHS jr. Lucia Chapell 1:02.85; 10th SIT fr. Klayeah Lozada 1:04.49; 13th JDHS sr. Anita Morrison 1:04.85).
TMHS’ Sanders won the girls 100 back region title in 1:00.80 and is seeded third (1st. ERHS Woodward 57.90; 5th TMHS D. Mills 1:01.60; 6th JDHS Chapell 1:01.81; 7th JDHS Ricke 1:02.30; 9th SIT Fleming 1:04.49; 10th TMHS Anderson 1:04.49; 11th JDHS Smith 1:05.01).
The state championship team titles often come down to the final event, the 400 free relay, and look for the JDHS and TMHS girls to be on top.
The Crimson Bears girls 400 of Schwarting, Chapell, Ricke and Fellman won regions in 3:43.30, just edging Falcons’ Liddle, Miller, D. Mills and Francis with 3:43.39. They are seeded first and second for state.
For relays, the first-place teams from region finals and the next four fastest times statewide advance to state.
TMHS 200 free relay girls Francis, Miller, O. Mills and Sanders won regions in 1:40.78 and will be seeded second (1st ERHS 1:39.26), with JDHS’ Schwarting, Boman, Delgado and Peimann (1:44.27) seeded seventh.
The JDHS girls 200 medley relay of Ricke, Fellman, Chapell and Peimann took regions with 1:52.04, narrowly topping TMHS’ Anderson, O. Mills, Liddle and Sanders in 1:52.64. They will be seeded third and fifth at state (1st South Anchorage 1:50.26).
TMHS sophomores Taylor Mesdag and Rhys Jackson, respectively, won the girls and boys dive competitions. Mesdag is seeded 13th (1st Soldotna sr. Abriella Werner; KTN jr. Kellyn Briggs) and Jackson 5th (1st Wasilla jr. Travis Thornton; 12th KTN jr. Clayton Huff; 14th TMHS jr. Paul Smith; 16th TMHS so. Travis Morgan) at state.
“There are about four or five girls’ teams that could walk away with a state title and we’re lucky to be in a position that we’re one of them,” JDHS coach Cayce said. “Our girls team is capable of it, but we can only control how we swim. Our coaching staff worked throughout the season to put them in the best position possible. I’m excited to see how everything plays, or swims, out.”
Other SE Region V champions (event, swimmer, time, state seed, top state qualifier and other SE qualifiers):
Boys 200 free – PSG freshman Logan Tow (1:53.87) seeded 13th (1st ERHS jr. Wes Mank 1:43.66).
Boys 500 free – PSG Tow (5:08.26) seeded ninth (1st Service sr. Conrad Fawcett 4:44.23; 11th KTN so. Gavin Harold 5:09.98; 13th SIT fr. Zach Martens 5:12.00).
Boys 100 free – WRG Roberts (47.73) seeded second (1st SER jr. Ben Price 47.68; 8th KTN Hagan 50.33; 15th SIT fr. Corin Colliver 52.05).
Boys 100 back – CRG’s Grant Maygren (56.25) seeded 6th (1st. ERHS Mank 50.95; 7th KTN Hagan 57.72; 15th KTN Yoder 1:01.12; 16th TMHS jr. Matthew Godkin 1:01.13).
Boys 200 IM – KTN T. Dash (1:58.97) seeded 2nd (1st SER Price 1:58.56; 6th KTN Harold 2:05.84; 8th SIT fr. Zach Martens 2:08.61; 15th CRG Maygren 2:11.93).
Boys 50 free – KTN fr. Evan Dash (22.38) seeded fifth (1st. Seward sr. Benjamin Ambrosiani 21.99; 15th SIT Colliver).
Boys 200 medley relay – KTN Harold, T. Dash, E. Dash and Easton Yoder (1:40.96) seeded third (1st ERHS 1:34.55; 10th JDHS Cole Reel, Edwards, Plang and Owen Rumsey 1:48.01).
Boys 200 relay – KTN Eli Lundburg, Yoder, Hagan and T. Dash (1:33.67) seeded seventh (1st ERHS 1:28.48; alternates TMHS’ Foy, Vincent Hayes, Clive Mateo and Godkin 1:34.42).
Boys 400 relay – KTN Hagan, JP Robbins, Harold and E. Dash (3:26.89) seeded eighth (1st Chugiak 3:17.35).
“I think having state here is really going to benefit us,” JDHS coach Cayce said. “We train in this pool, we get to sleep in our own beds and we don’t have to travel. Traveling to Anchorage for state is always fun, and the kids make a lot of fun memories, but traveling and staying in hotels does take a toll on the body. And everyone needs to be in the best possible physical condition to perform at the highest level. Being able to be at home allows us to do that.”
Added TMHS coach Loseby, “Having the state championships in Juneau allows our friends and families to have a front row seat to all of the amazing swimming and diving that will occur this weekend. We are excited to see the culminating results of all our hard work this season.”
Added Kayhi coach Trudeau, “All Southeast pools I have had experience in my first year coaching have been absolutely astonishing. We are extremely privileged to have such nice facilities and Juneau is right up there with them…and once again, you have Southeast hospitality. So it is a great facility and great people helping us out making this an awesome meet for all the state swimmers.”
Seniors from Juneau swimming in their final home meet this weekend include JDHS’ Samantha Schwarting, Emily Delgado, Anita Morrison and TMHS’ PJ Foy, Olivia Mills and Gabrielle Anderson.