Wolverines take 3A team title for second year in a row with sophomores AJ Rossman and Nathan Shao winning individual championships.
FEDERAL WAY — Bellevue’s Wolverines may not be done.
Bainbridge Island brought a team to the 3A boys state swim meet at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way bolstered by a class of touted freshmen. The Spartans finished second to Bellevue, 349.5-287, even with a Bellevue disqualification in the final event of the meet — the 400 free relay that the Wolverines swam in a spectacular 3:07.36.
Mercer Island ascended to the top of the podium in the 400 relay with its 3:14.69.
Even a cursory glance at Bellevue, which has now won the last two 3A team titles, reveals that its roster of swimmers isn’t all that much older. And all of the Wolverines’ underclassmen contributed mightily to their second straight championship even as coaches and participants continued to look ahead.
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“Just like last year, we’re always looking ahead,” said Daniel Prang, a captain and one of the two seniors from the state team who will graduate.
“It’s such an honor to be part of this team. Making our way from third as freshmen to first last year. That’s a long way. We’ve all come a long way.”
Sophomores AJ Rossman, 1:55.18 in the 200 individual medley, and Nathan Shao, 4:44.13 in the 500 freestyle, won those races. Bellevue won no individual races a year ago.
Rossman (100 back), second senior Zach Rossman (50 free), sophomore Andrew Boden (100 and 200 frees) and juniors Thomas Eggenberger (200 IM) and Andrew Lee (100 breast) all added second-place finishes among 16 championship finals swims for the Wolverines.
“And the pipeline looks strong for next year, too,” Bellevue coach Andy Hay said. “If I say my prayers every day, and that’s what I do, God-willing we’ll get a diver.”
Diving was the only event in which Bellevue did not score on Saturday.
Boden, who swam top qualifying times in both the 100 and 200 freestyles on Friday, fell in each case to Dean Nguyen of Franklin.
Nguyen won the 200 free in 1 minute, 39.60 seconds, ahead of Boden’s 1:40.19. Nguyen swam 45.46 in the 100 free to Boden’s runner-up 46.24. All four were All-America consideration times.
“It was really fun swimming against Andrew,” Nguyen said. “He’s a friend to me.”
While Nguyen was pleased with the blue ribbons, there was more to it for him.
“I just wanted to race today,” Nguyen said. “I really wanted to get my best times. I got it in the 200, and missed by just .1 in the 100.”
James Buchanan earned two state titles for Lindbergh, but in a rare occurrence had to share one of them. Buchanan, a junior, built a lead after the first 100 yards of the 200 IM on Anacortes senior Elliott Hofferth, but Hofferth closed with a 26.65 over the final 50 yards of freestyle to forge a tie.
Both touched the wall in 1:58.08. Buchanan went on to defend his 100 back title in 52.54. Hofferth also was a double winner thanks to the tie, adding the 100 fly title in 51.96 seconds.
They were joined as double winners by Shorecrest senior Grant Heisey, who went virtually unchallenged in the 200 and 500 free, and earned Swimmer of the Meet honors.
Heisey won the 200 in 1:43.20, over two seconds ahead of runner-up Ross Burchell of Olympic at 1:45.86. His 500 time of 4:39.57 put him nearly three seconds ahead of second-place Burchell, who swam a 4:42.39.
• Kingston, which began its swimming program for the 2008-09 school year, won its first-ever swimming title (boys or girls) when its 200 medley relay team touched the wall in 1:43.08 in the 2A meet. The school opened in 2007.
• North Thurston, which missed the start of the 3A meet due to the shooting, subsequent car chase and police-involved shooting that closed most of I-5 north near Lakewood for a time on Saturday, did get to swim the 200 medley relay later in the meet. The Rams went 1:42.43 in the makeup race and were awarded points as the consolation heat winner.
• As expected, Anacortes won the 2A team title, 231.5-207 over runner-up Shorecrest, and Anacortes coach Leslie Mix was named 2A coach of the year.