Bainbridge Spartans finish sixth at State | Girls Swimming and Diving

Emily Sonnenfeld, swimming in the 200 IM during a recent home meet, was a member of BHS’ fourth-place 200 medley relay team in the state meet. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Emily Sonnenfeld, swimming in the 200 IM during a recent home meet, was a member of BHS’ fourth-place 200 medley relay team in the state meet.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Four new records set in highly competitive 3A swimming meet.

For the first time, the Bainbridge girls’ swimming and diving team came home from a state championship meet without a trophy.

The Spartans finished sixth with 158 points on Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center, just a point behind Mount Rainier of Des Moines and 28 behind Bellevue, which claimed the fourth and final trophy position.

According to Coach Greg Colby, it wasn’t from a lack of effort.

“I thought we performed well. All the kids swam their best times or close to their best times. And all three relays moved up from their preliminary times,” he said.

Rather, as the meet announcer noted, “No one can remember a year with so many great swims. This was a great day for Washington high school girls’ swimming.”

Case in point: Leona Jennings of Mount Rainier. In the 50 free, traditionally the most competitive event, Jennings had open water between her and the next finisher as she clocked a sizzling 22.92, breaking former BHS superstar Emily Silver’s 5-year-old meet record.

Jennings also swam 53.66 in the 100 backstroke, breaking the previous state record by more than a second and a half and putting herself within shouting distance of the national standard of 53.06. Making the feat even more remarkable, she had barely climbed out of the pool after making up a half-second deficit in anchoring her team’s victory in the 200 free relay – the previous event – with a time of 22.76.

And she wasn’t even the “Swimmer of the Meet.”

That honor went to Lindsey Marchand of Peninsula, based on the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Power Point tables. The NISCA tables give points for a given swimmer’s two individual events, and decreed that Marchand’s new state marks in the 100 fly (53.55) and 100 breast (1:02.00) were worth 335 points to 334 for Jennings. Four new 3A state records were set in the meet – two each by Jennings and Marchand, with scores that eclipsed Silver’s.

And as Colby noted, it wasn’t just the top-end swimmers who made the meet so memorable. The high quality of competition extended throughout the entire evening.

The Spartans had their share of contributions. They came into the first event – the 200 medley relay – with the seventh-best seed time and held that position in the prelims. But the team of Emily Sonnenfeld, Julie Pendleton, Tess Harpur and Kristine Valdez knocked more than two seconds off their preliminary time with a 1:54.32 clocking and a fourth-place finish.

India Wade took third in the consolation finals of the 200 free with a time of 1:59.52. Pendleton, whom Colby termed “the star for our team,” took third in the 200 IM in 2:09.12. Freshman teammate Tess Harpur was seventh in 2:15.04. Both improved a notch from their placements in the prelims.

Kristine Valdez was 16th in the consolation finals of the 50 free with a time of 26.13.

Colby was particularly pleased with diver Kate McKenzie, who finished 11th in her event with 245.60 points. Only a bad dive on her next-to-last effort kept her off the victory stand as she was less than eight points out of eighth place. “She was the first diver we’ve had at state since school record holder Stephanie Whalen,” he said. “Kate was in uncharted territory since she’d never been to state before and she did a great job.”

Pendleton garnered another third-place finish in the 100 fly, with her 57.84 more than two and a half seconds under her seed time and a major step up from her sixth-best qualifying time in the prelims. Harpur was eighth in 1:00.24. “Tess improved her times in both her events,” Colby said. “And for a freshman to have two top-eight finishes is great.”

Wade took fourth in the consolation finals of the 100 free in 55.03, touching just .01 seconds out of third and two-tenths of a second behind the winner.

She came back two events later to anchor the 200 free relay to a sixth-place finish with a 1:42.80 clocking. The other members were Harpur, Alicia Konkel and Margaret Huisinga.

Sonnenfeld was sixth in the consolation finals of the 100 back in a time of 1:03.50.

With one event remaining – the 400 free relay – the Spartans held a slight lead over Peninsula and Mount Rainier in the race for fifth, though Mount Rainier’s preliminary time seemed too much to overcome, especially with Jennings swimming anchor. So the primary objective was to finish ahead of Peninsula, though Marchand gave her team a huge lead in the event with a 50.68 opening leg.

Pendleton led off for Bainbridge, with Cameo Hlebasko swimming second. “Cameo rebounded from a disappointing performance in the 500 prelims,” Colby said. “She swam very well with her fastest 100 ever.”

With the Spartans still trailing Peninsula after Kristine Valdez’s third leg, it was up to Wade. “She was a good team leader on the deck throughout the meet,” Colby said of her. She also proved to be a team leader in the water, swimming a 54.09 anchor leg to make up nearly three seconds on Peninsula and secure sixth – both in the race and in the team totals – by .02 of a second.

While admitting to some disappointment at not coming home with a trophy, Colby added, “there are a lot of teams out there that would like to be sixth.”

And he further noted that the team was “in great spirits. We had a lot of fun coming home.”

Looking ahead, Colby said: “This is the second year in a row that we’ve lost 12 seniors. We have at least half a dozen club swimmers coming in, but it will be challenging to match the levels of success we’ve had in the past. But we’ll definitely be competitive in dual meets.”

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