“Glub, glub, win! Spartan girls take titleThe Bainbridge girls were led by sizzling swims from Silvers and seniors”

"Don't let the explosive displays of effusive triumph at Saturday night's 3A state girls' swim-and-dive championships fool you in the slightest.The capture of Bainbridge High School's sixth Washington state title in 14 years - 265 points to 220 for second-place archrival Bellevue - was a completely calculated act.In the days and weeks preceding the meet, members of the team worked closely with coach Greg Colby to pore over seeding sheets and compute their probable times in each event, converting them to probable points.By the time Friday's preliminary heats were complete, the Spartans figured they would win the state title, less diving results - their first in 3A competition - with 256 points.And with the nine points Bainbridge received in diving at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, the night of near-perfection was satisfyingly complete.We knew exactly what we needed to do, said Colby, who received the only major surprise of the night when he was announced as the state 3A coach of the year. And these girls are talented and trained and dedicated enough that if they tell me they can go faster - as fast as they had to - then I had to believe them.Some people went up, some people went down - but the final number was right on. "

  • Wednesday, November 15, 2000 2:00pm
  • Sports

“Don’t let the explosive displays of effusive triumph at Saturday night’s 3A state girls’ swim-and-dive championships fool you in the slightest.The capture of Bainbridge High School’s sixth Washington state title in 14 years – 265 points to 220 for second-place archrival Bellevue – was a completely calculated act.In the days and weeks preceding the meet, members of the team worked closely with coach Greg Colby to pore over seeding sheets and compute their probable times in each event, converting them to probable points.By the time Friday’s preliminary heats were complete, the Spartans figured they would win the state title, less diving results – their first in 3A competition – with 256 points.And with the nine points Bainbridge received in diving at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, the night of near-perfection was satisfyingly complete.We knew exactly what we needed to do, said Colby, who received the only major surprise of the night when he was announced as the state 3A coach of the year. And these girls are talented and trained and dedicated enough that if they tell me they can go faster – as fast as they had to – then I had to believe them.Some people went up, some people went down – but the final number was right on.In all, Bainbridge won three individual titles and two of the three relay races, among 12 total events.Freshman Emily Silver established herself as the state’s pre-eminent female sprinter, capturing championships in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races in 23.49 and 51.24 seconds, respectively – both automatic All-American times. Sister Helen, a junior, successfully defended her state title in the 100 backstroke event in 56.42 – also an automatic AA performance.Both Silvers were also members of the Spartan’s two first-place relay quartets – the 200-yard individual medley and the 400-yard freestyle relay.I was up on the block, staring down, and I could feel my heart beat in my throat, Emily Silver said, summing up the explosion of emotion that topped a season of intense training on top of top-drawer talent. I’ve been to a lot of big meets before, but I can’t remember ever being so pumped up.The excitement, the adrenaline – everything builds up to the point where you just want to do something good for your community and your team.While the Silvers stole the spotlight, the team championship was just that – a team affair that could not have been accomplished without the contributions of several other Spartans.There was senior Leslie Wukstich, who capped her four-year varsity Bainbridge career with an anchor-leg performance that largely made the difference in the 400 free relay, and the Spartans’ first showing in the 500 free final in more than half a decade.There was Melissa Clune, who shook off a disqualification disappointment from last season’s state meet that cost the Spartans a second-place finish, to join the team’s triumphant 200 medley relay team and take a second place of her own in the 100 butterfly contest.There was Jaron Santelli, the senior transfer student from Ohio who swam through a shoulder injury all season to post a sixth-place finish in the 100 backstroke and seventh in the 50 freestyle in her only state prep season.There was Sarah Weigle, the unsung distance freestyler the past several seasons, who supplied sorely needed depth in the Spartans’ third-place 200 freestyle relay.There was Meredith Blumenthal, the freshman who overcame the disappointment of being disqualified in the district meet for her marquee event, the 100 breaststroke, and went on to swim in the third-best 200 medley relay performance ever in Washington.And there was Tessa Mabrey, the junior in her first year of serious competitive diving, who took a dramatic step forward at season’s end to become the state’s ninth-best 1-meter female diver.A lot of attention will go to Helen and Emily, and rightfully so, but this is a team, and we couldn’t have accomplished what we did without those members of the team, Colby said.The evening started off scorchingly, as Bainbridge came back in the 200 medley relay to win by nearly two full seconds behind a sizzling 23.0 50-free finale by Emily Silver – one of the best times ever among 15- and 16-year-olds nationwide.Wukstich then gave Bainbridge five points with a 12th-place finish in the 200 free event before Helen Silver’s second-place swim in the 200 individual medley tacked on another 17.Then Emily Silver, who posted a smoking 23.69 time in Friday’s 50 free preliminaries, went deeper into uncharted clock waters with a 23.49 finale – more than a second ahead of her nearest competitor. Clune took 10th in the same event.Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the night came next when Mabrey, a run-of-the-mill competitor during the regular season, dramatically stepped up her diving quality at the Olympic League and West Central District meets – and took the momentum into the state finale with a 268.35 performance, good for nine key points.What Tessa was able to accomplish in the course of a few meets, let alone one year, is pretty amazing and unprecedented, diving coach Chris Miller said. She just decided she wanted to go for it.Clune followed with her 17 points in the 100 butterfly – 1.15 seconds behind repeat champion Rebecca Sturdy of Anacortes – before Emily Silver’s next salvo.Silver and Bellevue senior Crystal Rawlings entered the 100 freestyle final separated by just one-tenth of a second in Friday’s preliminary heat – making it anyone’s race.Both improved on those times, but Silver gained .76 of one second to win, 51.24 seconds to Rawlings’ equally stunning 51.50. It’s a difference barely discernable to the naked eye.Wukstich followed with 11 key points by virtue of her eight-place wrap in the 500 free event. Then came a race with a finish undiscernable to the naked eye – the 200 freestyle relay team’s third-place finish at 1:40.99 – with Wukstich touching the timing pad just one-one-hundredth of a second behind Seattle Prep. The difference cost Bainbridge just two points, however, and made a minimal dent in the Spartans’ ever-widening lead.Helen Silver then sealed the deal with a 100 backstroke performance that improved on her sizzling prelim-heat time by 1.21 seconds at 56.42 – improving on last year’s title swim by .38 seconds. Santelli placed sixth in the same event with a 1:01.02 performance, also besting her preliminary time.Bainbridge sat out the 100 breastroke event, but gave up just nine points to Bellevue, which couldn’t place its swimmer higher than ninth.The deal was well-sealed by the time the Spartans closed their night of dreams with a comeback 3:36.32 All-American consideration time in the 400 freestyle relay, good for the championship in that event by nearly two full seconds over Bellevue.It’s always sweeter to beat Bellevue, said Emily Silver, who swam the lead leg on that relay and watched her sister finish.As the quartet walked off the deck for the last time, Colby, draped in festive leis, shook the hand of each Spartan.Congratulations, state champion, he said.Afterwards, drenched from a water-bucket dunking from his happy crew, he reflected on the work that led to the win.While some of his other championship teams – including the three-peaters from 1994 to 1996 – had higher point totals relative to their level of their competition, Colby believes this team came out of the blocks with the biggest total of talent.It’s really true what they say – great athletes makes good coaches, he said, his voice growing hoarse from a night of shouting and whistling. I couldn’t be prouder of these girls. They’re definitely the greatest.The swimmers themselves echoed those sentiments of pride.It was really exciting to end this way, Wukstich said. We all really worked hard to earn it, and we had a lot of fun along the way.I’m really going to miss it. “

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