Hazen swimmers top Liberty

October 4, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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After 12 events at the Sept. 13 dual swim meet between the Liberty High School Patriots and the Hazen Highlanders, it was only 13 points that ultimately separated the winning team from the losing team.

The Highlanders beat the Patriots by a score of 99-86.

“It was a good meet with Hazen,” Liberty coach Kris Daughters said. “I think we’re pretty close in terms of our depth and talent. They got us by about 12 points, but that’s not very much for a swim meet.”

By Greg Farrar
Ellie Hohensinner, Liberty High School freshman, races to her victory in the 100-meter fly Sept. 13 against Hazen in a time of 1 minute, 6.02 seconds.

Hazen coach Rick Wertman said that the meet between the two schools is always competitive, especially since many of the swimmers are familiar with each other from competitions outside of school.

“It’s a natural rivalry because we’re in close proximity, but the kids know each other from club and summer league, so it’s always a fun meet. And Kris is an excellent coach, so it’s fun to put our teams together and see what happens,” he said.

Wertman said he was happy with his team’s meet and he highlighted the performances of Talisa Wibmer, Amy LeBar and Kourtney Brunings.

Wibmer, a junior, took first in the 100 backstroke with a state-qualifying time of 1 minute, 2.20 seconds. She also captured first in the 100 freestyle. Brunings, a sophomore, won the 100 breaststroke and LeBar, a senior, won the 50 freestyle. All three swimmers, along with freshman Clarissa Mitchell, were on the 200 medley relay team that captured first with a state-qualifying time of 1:57.91.

Daughters said she was encouraged by Liberty’s performance and, in particular, the swims of Mackenna Briggs and Ellie Hohensinner.

Briggs, a sophomore who won the state 100 backstroke title last year, won the 200 individual medley in 2:12.76 and the 500 freestyle in 5:27.69. Hohensinner, a freshman, captured the 100 butterfly. The two swimmers, along with freshman Lauryn Hepp and sophomore Cecilia Nelson, took first place in the 400 freestyle relay.

It was a good initial test for the young, inexperienced Hazen squad, Wertman said.

“Well, we’re excited about our group,” he said. “It’s a little smaller than last year, but the influx in new kids and the growth they’ve had in just three weeks is just tremendous. Almost two-thirds of our kids have never been in a swim meet, so it’s exciting to see the potential we have.”

For Hazen, the goal is to build on last year’s successful season when the squad captured the Seamount League title and won their district.

“We had a real good season last year and initially I thought, if we can come close to equaling that, I’d be happy, but now I think we can build on that,” Wertman said. “This meet showed me that.”

Daughters said that Liberty’s goal is to get as many swimmers as possible to qualify for the KingCo championships.

“That’s always a goal for me, because if they can make those times, they’re a good, solid high school swimmer,” she said.

Daughters said the Patriots won’t win many dual meets, as the 2A school competes against several KingCo 4A schools with a lot more depth. But as long as her swimmers continually improve, that’s all that matters, she said.

“We’re a good middle-level team, but it’s not going to look like it in our meet record this year,” she said. “Fortunately, in swimming, I don’t think people judge us too much on our team score. I have families and kids who don’t even ask what the team score was. It’s more on individual improvement and post season qualifying times, so that’s the focus.”

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