Highlanders earn fifth place at state swim meet
February 26, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
NEW — 2:55 p.m. Feb. 26, 2014
A certain sense of uncertainty surrounded the Hazen boys swim team at the beginning of the season.
Without a coach until nearly the last minute, when current coach Jon Graybill agreed to step in, Hazen senior Malcolm Mitchell said he wasn’t sure what to expect of this year’s Highlanders.
“It got off to a bumpy start, just because he was hired just a few days before the season,” Mitchell said. “He handled it well, though, and the season was successful.”
It was a success, and the proof is in the half-dozen medals the team earned at the 3A state swimming championship Feb. 22. The Highlanders performed so well, they were less than eight points away from a fourth place finish and team trophy.
Hazen began the meet with a bang, earning fourth in the 200-yard medley relay, and breaking a school record along the way. The team of Nolan Hoover, Derek Wei, Connor Broughton and Mitchell swam the race in 1 minute, 39.64 seconds.
The mark broke a Hazen school record that had stood since 1977.
“We’ve been looking at those records every year that I’ve been here, and we were close, but we didn’t quite get it,” Mitchell said. “It was nice to finally get that record.”
Mitchell, in what was the last competition of his high-school career, went on to win three more medals, two of them individuals, in the meet held at Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center.
He earned two fifth-place medals — one in the 50-yard freestyle and one in the 100-yard butterfly. Mitchell was also a part of the 400-yard freestyle relay team, along with Broughton, Wei and Sergio Licea, that earned sixth place.
“It’s just satisfying seeing all the hard work pay off,” Mitchell said. “I put a lot of hours into it, so it’s nice to see that in the results.”
Licea, a sophomore, also medaled, earning eighth place in the 100-yard butterfly. Additionally, Broughton placed eighth in the 500-yard freestyle.
Liberty wins three medals
The Liberty High School boys swim team competed in its last state meet as a 3A school, before the Patriots jump down to 2A next year, and earned three medals.
Senior Connor Biehl finished his high school career by capturing two individual medals at the 3A meet Feb. 22.
Biehl placed fifth in the 200-yard individual medley and seventh in the 100-yard backstroke.
“It’s great, just pounding the wall and turning and looking to see I got fifth. That was my goal,” he said after the individual medley race.
Junior Nick Klatt also earned a medal, placing sixth in the 500-yard freestyle.