Back-to-back champs

December 4, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Liberty swimming and diving team wins Class 2A state title

Liberty coach Kris Daughters sent her team a group text message the evening of Nov. 13.

By Christina Corrales-Toy The Liberty High School swimming and diving team is all smiles after winning its second straight state title Nov. 14 at Federal Way's King County Aquatic Center.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
The Liberty High School swimming and diving team is all smiles after winning its second straight state title Nov. 14 at Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center.

“Go to bed,” it read.

At 8:30 p.m. the night before the final day of the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet, that was easier said than done, said Liberty seniors Ellie Hohensinner and Lauryn Hepp.

Sleep was hard to come by as the Patriots felt the pressure from a Squalicum team looking to dethrone the 2014 state champions. Squalicum looked poised to edge Liberty after the meet’s first day at Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center.

“We knew it was going to be super close,” Hepp said. “We knew that we had some points to make up.”

It came down to the very last race, but Liberty rallied to win its second straight 2A state title Nov. 14.

The Patriots did not dominate as they did in 2014 — Liberty won only two events, as opposed to seven last year. But after losing star athletes such as Cecilia Nelson and Mackenna Briggs to graduation, the Patriots knew they had to employ a different strategy to repeat, Hepp said.

“We lost some strong swimmers, so this year, we had to kind of come together as a team a little more and make up some points,” she said.

The team aligned together like never before Saturday, Hohensinner said. The group was spirited, enthusiastic and determined, she added.

It showed. To win the title, the Patriots had to be better than they were Friday. Several swimmers improved Saturday and moved up in the final races.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Liberty senior Ellie Hohensinner swims in her title-winning 500-yard freestyle race.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Liberty senior Ellie Hohensinner swims in her title-winning 500-yard freestyle race.

Hohensinner and freshman Reegan Weber got the momentum going in the 200-yard freestyle. Weber, seeded seventh, improved to fourth in the finals, while Hohensinner, seeded third, moved up a spot to second.

Junior Sydney Hartford went from eighth to seventh in the 50 freestyle; diver Belle Wong improved four spots to take seventh in the 1-meter diving competition; Hepp was all smiles after finishing third in the 100 freestyle, moving up five spots from her preliminary seeding; freshman Rachel King improved one spot to take sixth in the 100 backstroke; sophomore Abby Russell went from sixth to fifth in the 100 breaststroke; and Weber improved a spot to fifth in the 500 freestyle.

The relay teams kicked it up a notch, too. The 200 freestyle relay team went from a fourth seed to a second place finish, while the 400 freestyle relay team improved a spot to win the title.

“There’s something about the air in the state final — the podium, the music; it’s something,” Hohensinner said. “It’s definitely a very cool vibe in here.”

Hohensinner was the Patriots’ only individual winner. She repeated as 500 freestyle champ with a time of 5 minutes, 07.66 seconds.

Russell also finished third in the 200 individual medley; and Hepp took second and Sierra Lesnik eighth in the 100 backstroke. The 200 medley relay team opened the meet with a second place finish.

Hartford, Chloe Weber, Taylor Clay and Emma Ream all swam in consolation finals. See the full results here.

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