FEDERAL WAY — Mike McCloskey’s final moments as the swim coach at Archbishop Murphy turned into his craziest moments.
In the span of about two minutes, the Wildcats went from second place to winning their second consecutive title at the 2A boys state swim meet on Saturday at King County Aquatic Center.
“Oh, holy cow,” a stunned but smiling McCloskey said. “I’m speechless on that one.”
Archbishop Murphy entered the final event of the meet – the 4×100-yard freestyle relay – trailing Steilacoom and Lindbergh by 21 points.
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Lindbergh had no relay team in the event. The Sentinels came in with the top qualifying time, while the Wildcats were seeded fourth.
Steilacoom needed only to finish to win its first state team title. In the pool, the Sentinels did better than that. Steilacoom went under 3 minutes, 20 seconds to touch the wall first and bring home the apparent title in Lane 4.
A few seconds later, the announcement came.
“In the heat just completed, there has been a disqualification,” rang through the building. “Lane 4 has been disqualified.”
The infraction in the relay happened before the first swimmer hit the water. Steilacoom’s leadoff swimmer got set, then had a slight shoulder flinch on the blocks.
“I saw it,” Steilacoom coach Kathy Casey said. “I was just hoping not all the officials had seen it. Everything has to go right, and stuff happens. It’s just very unfortunate for us.”
Just that quickly, Steilacoom lost the 40 points for first. Anacortes, which finished second in the race, was elevated to the top spot, and Archbishop Murphy moved into the second position.
That gave the Wildcats a 185-178 victory over runner-up Anacortes. Steilacoom and Lindbergh finished tied for third at 172 .
“To be honest, I have really mixed feelings,” McCloskey said. “My heart goes out to those Steilacoom kids. But if something happens, you’ve got to be ready to take advantage of it, because you earned it. Nobody gets to the top podium without earning it.”
The Wildcats did put themselves in position, and not only with the high finish in the final relay. Archbishop Murphy won four individual titles on Saturday.
Stephen Boden obliterated the 2A 200 IM record, swimming 1:52.01 to erase former Wildcat Austin Fish’s record of 1:54.56 from 2010. He later won the 500 free in 4:34.81.
Austin Barnard earned a win in the 200 free, going 1:44.68. And diver Elliott Forde scored just enough on his final dive to win the title by two-tenths of a point over Steilacoom’s Ryan Shipes, 372.0-371.85.
“It’s crazy,” Forde said. “We were all so nervous waiting over there.”
For Steilacoom, the third-place finish still is the best in school history.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Sentinels senior Ben Scott, who won the 100 back and 100 butterfly. “But looking at how the season has gone, I have no regrets with this meet.”
Immediately after the meet ended, McCloskey changed his shirt. His career at ATM over, McCloskey had his new school – Bishop Blanchet – to coach in the 3A meet.
Mercer Island rolls in 3A
The Islanders’ depth made the team title a foregone conclusion at the 3A state meet. Mercer Island scored in almost every event en route to a 337-282.5 victory over runner-up Bellevue. It was the Islanders sixth title in eight years, but first in the last three.
Other schools, like Bellevue, which posted its highest-ever team finish, also showed up big. The Wolverines 200 medley relay got the party rolling with a meet and overall state record of 1:34.09, lowering the mark set in 2009 of 1:34.25 by Mercer Island.
Lakeside’s Abrahm Devine, swimming outside top qualifier and defending champion and record-holder Tommy Thach of Kennedy in the 200 IM, shed more than a second and a half from the previous record set in 2013 of 1:49.22. Devine went 1:47.60.
Bellevue’s Todd McCarthy then got in on the fun. The senior lowered the meet record he set during prelims on Friday of 49.39 to 49.12 in the 100 fly. McCarthy added the 100 back title in another all-America automatic swim of 48.64, but he was just .08 short of the meet and state record of 48.56 set by Kennedy’s Thane Maudslien a year ago. He earned swimmer of the meet.
Co-coaches of the year were Bellevue’s Andy Hay and Bainbridge’s Kaycee Taylor.