Final 400 free decides Liberty, Hazen swim meet

October 9, 2011

By Christina Lords

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Kourtney Brunings, of Hazen, swims the anchor leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay Sept. 22 against Liberty. Brunings, with Kayla DiMicco, Amy LeBar and Taylor Gale, used the decisive win to break the point tie and give the Highlanders’ their team victory. By Greg Farrar

After 11 events between the Liberty High School Patriots and the Hazen Highlanders at Sept. 22’s dual swim meet, the teams were tied going into the final 400-yard freestyle relay.

With a final time of 3 minutes, 57.71 seconds, Hazen’s relay team grabbed eight critical points to narrowly clinch a final score of 95-88 in favor of the Highlanders.

Liberty coach Kris Daughters said she opted out of bringing the Liberty diving team —which cost the Patriots 13 critical points — due to safety concerns related to the depth of the Hazen pool. The pool Liberty practices in is 10 feet deep, while Hazen’s is only 8 feet deep.

“I thought we’d be further behind them because I knew we wouldn’t be bringing our divers, so the fact that we were tied going into the last relay was awesome,” she said. “It made it a good meet, and it was good to have my fast kids to have that pressure on them.”

Hazen coach Rick Wertman said the team experienced another close meet and lost earlier in the week against Kentridge High School.

To make improvements individually and as a team will help the Highlanders’ momentum as they look toward future meets in the season, he said.

“This really brought us up to our game,” Wertman said. “We came within three points … against Kentridge and didn’t win, so to come to the same juncture and prevail, feels like growth.”

Hazen senior Sarah McCormick took first place with a score of 200.7 in the 1-meter diving event.

“To break 200 was my goal,” she said. “It was awesome because I didn’t feel like I did very well, but I was able to do a personal best there.”

Kayla Dicco, a sophomore, scored 157.85 for second place in the diving event, while Stacy Stenslie, a junior, took third with a score of 128.1.

Elise Tinseth, one of four team captains for Liberty, took first in the 200-yard freestyle event and first in the 100-yard breaststroke, with times of 2:03.63 and 1:12.27, respectively.

“So far, we’ve had a lot more KingCo and district qualifying times,” she said. “Sometimes, we feel a little bit like the underdogs at district meets because we’ll usually have just a relay there, or four girls, but this year I think we’ll have more doing well. That’s really exciting for us as a team.”

Tinseth also took first place with Cecilia Nelson, Caitlin Duffner and Mackenna Briggs in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a final time of 2:03.63.

Briggs racked up five state qualifying times in her first three meets of the season.

Liberty junior Katie Nelson grabbed her first-ever first-place finish in a high school event with a 6:19.79 time in the 500-yard free; she took third place in the IM.

“She dropped 18 seconds in the 500 free, which is a huge drop in swimming,” Daughters said. “It was just really nice to see her excel.”

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