Skyline edges Eastlake in KingCo swim showdown

December 17, 2013

By Neil Pierson

For Skyline to earn a pair of victories in KingCo Conference action last week, the Spartans needed help from their seniors, but also from their freshmen and sophomores.

Skyline got first-place times from seniors Paul Jett and Nick D’Alo, and key contributions from underclassmen Nick Nava, Jacob Leahy and Ryan Kinnear to defeat Eastlake (94-91) and Redmond (103-77) in boys swimming and diving action Dec. 10 at Redmond Pool.

Jett won the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 3.52 seconds – narrowly missing the automatic state-qualifying time of 2:03.20 – and also placed first in the 100 freestyle (51.17).

In addition, Jett helped the Spartans win the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, and his performances could be indicative of a big season to come, Skyline coach Susan Simpkins said.

The X-factor may be his ability to stay healthy, the coach added.

“He swims really well, but you never really know what happens in the winter,” Simpkins said. “But I think he’ll do really well.”

Fellow senior Ryan Collins also contributed to Skyline’s two winning relays, and he’ll be looking to build upon a junior season in which he qualified for state in the 100 butterfly.

“They’re just team leaders and can show the way,” Simpkins said of Collins and Jett.

D’Alo swam to a win in the 50 freestyle, and his time of 23.79 seconds was less than a second away from an automatic state berth.

Skyline’s younger swimmers also had key contributions. The Spartans trailed Eastlake heading into the final event – the 400 freestyle relay – before freshmen Leahy and Kinnear teamed with Collins and Jett for the win in 3:35.07, giving Skyline enough points to come out on top.

Nava, a sophomore, filled in for Collins in the 100 butterfly and churned out a first-place, district-qualifying time of 56.73 seconds.

Kinnear and Leahy turned in three runner-up finishes that proved vital. Kinnear battled Jett to the wire in the 100 free, finishing in 51.50, and also placed second in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.25). Both times were good for berths into the district meet. Leahy finished second in the 500 free (5:40.79).

Kinnear’s older sister, Katie, won seven individual state titles during her Skyline career, and is now competing at UCLA.

Simpkins is expecting good things over the course of the season from her roster of 58 swimmers.

“About 20 of them are brand-new swimmers,” she said. “The rest of them are all coming back … and a lot of them have improved from last year, as well as our strong freshmen that came up.”

Eastlake didn’t hold on for the victory against Skyline, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of Wolves coach Kate Agnew.

“We were outgunned on the last relay, but I couldn’t ask for more,” Agnew said. “The boys swam great. We had a lot of boys step up their best times and score points, so that was good. We’re missing a couple of our key contributors today.”

Eastlake star Edward Kim – the reigning 4A champion in the 100 fly and 50 free – was competing last week at the junior national championships in North Carolina. The senior is expected to swim when the Wolves meet Bothell and Lake Washington on Dec. 19.

Eastlake didn’t score its results against Redmond. The teams will meet again in January for an official conference dual.

With Kim out, junior Jackson Berman had a chance to shine. He’d already qualified for state in the 500 free, and he kept his momentum going with a winning time of 5:00.22.

“I’m really trying to go for the Eastlake record, which is like 4:46,” Berman said.

He also won the 100 backstroke (59.44) and swam the lead leg for the Wolves’ 200-yard medley relay, which placed first in 1:49.15.

“He has gotten so strong during the offseason,” Agnew said of Berman. “He’s been swimming with his club team and looks great – made state the first meet of the season last week, swam a 4:58 in the 500.

“We were really happy about that, and he will definitely be swimming at state and representing Eastlake well.”

Caleb Alleva should be another solid contributor for the Wolves. The senior won the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.65.

“Caleb swam a lot over the offseason, picked up club swimming and has stepped up to fill that breaststroke role big-time,” Agnew said. “He’s less than a second off the state time after today, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Berman likes what he’s seeing from his teammates.

“I feel like we have less people than last year, but I feel like we’re stronger because a lot of them are returning,” he said. “I feel like …. most of the kids have adapted really well with the water and are pretty strong swimmers right now.”

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