Sports

Pair of Olympians lead peninsula swimmers to state

By JEFF HELMINIAK

Peninsula Clarion

This summer time, Seward senior Lydia Jacoby grew to become the primary Alaskan to swim on the Olympics.

Friday and Saturday, Kenai Peninsula faculties will probably be represented by two Olympian swimmers on the state swimming and diving meet at Bartlett Excessive Faculty in Anchorage.

One, in fact, will probably be Jacoby, who gained the gold medal within the 100-meter breaststroke and a silver within the 400 medley relay.

The second will probably be Homer sophomore Jillian Crooks, who swam within the 100-meter freestyle on the Olympics this summer time at 15 years previous. Representing the Cayman Islands, Crooks completed second in her warmth however didn’t advance to the semifinals.

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Jacoby and Crooks each have the highest seed in each of their particular person occasions at state.

Jacoby has the highest seed within the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:00.22. Jacoby’s state report, set in 2019, is 1:00.61. The Seward senior additionally will compete within the 200 particular person medley, the place her seed time is 2:07.88 and the state report is the two:03.61 of Kodiak’s Tahna Lindquist in 2014.

Crooks is seeded first within the 100 freestyle with a seed time of 51.13, with the state report being 50.51 by Kodiak’s Ila Hughes in 2014. Within the 200 freestyle, Crooks has a seed time of 1:50.54, with the state report standing at 1:50.02 by East’s Meghan Cavanaugh in 2007.

Homer assistant coach Dana Jaworski mentioned Homer head coach Caleb Miller coached Crooks as a toddler.

“She was having some difficulty getting back home so she came here for a couple of weeks to train,” Jaworski mentioned of Crooks. “She was having some points with a quarantine and vaccination card.

“She told her mom she wanted to stay. She loves Alaska and loves the kids.”

Crooks enrolled within the Connections home-school program and was in a position to begin competing for the Mariners in early October.

“We have some pretty awesome kids in Homer, and she’s happy to have workout buddies,” Jaworski mentioned. “Carly Nelson and Hunter Fry definitely hang with her in workouts. Likewise, the energy she brings to the pool strengthens the team overall.”

The outcomes have been obvious on the Northern Lights Convention this previous weekend, the place Crooks set new convention data within the 100 and 200 freestyles, and Nelson, a sophomore, set a brand new report within the 100 butterfly.

Nelson is seeded third within the 100 freestyle and fourth within the 100 butterfly at state.

Crooks and Nelson additionally be part of McKenna Carlin and Cassidy Carroll on a 200 freestyle relay seeded third. Each Carlin and Carroll are freshmen.

Jaworski mentioned Crooks has expressed curiosity in ending her highschool profession in Homer.

“I just think the future is bright for this team,” the assistant coach mentioned. “There’s potentially a lot of depth and a lot of top swimmers.”

Senior Skyler Rodriguez, within the 100 butterfly, and junior Hunter Fry, within the 500 freestyle, additionally will compete at state.

Solomon D’ Amico, Seward’s head coach, mentioned having Jacoby and Crooks round is nice for the peninsula and the state.

“When you have to be your best, you rise to that occasion,” D’ Amico mentioned. “Perhaps you don’t win, however getting an opportunity to race towards the most effective competitors is fairly particular.

“I think Alaska is much better for it.”

D’ Amico mentioned that when Jacoby certified for the Olympics this summer time and went on to win a gold medal, it was apparent her life had modified.

The coach appreciates the best way the group of Seward has allowed Jacoby to have as regular of a senior 12 months as doable.

“In fall, winter and spring, this is really our town — the real Seward,” D’ Amico mentioned of the group that pulls heavy vacationer site visitors in the summertime. “We all know to give each other space, so it hasn’t been a huge lift trying to convey to the town that this is a kid that needs to have a senior year.”

Particularly, D’ Amico mentioned all parts of the swim program have executed an awesome job.

Coaches Greer Ethridge, Myriah Ariza-Balter, Cassidy Kelly and Andy Koster, and oldsters Leslie Jacoby and Sarah Spanos, stored issues rolling when Lydia and D’ Amico left for Europe for just a few weeks in the course of the season for worldwide competitors.

D’ Amico additionally mentioned the opposite two seniors on the crew, Wren Dougherty and Peter Spanos, had an awesome season of management and dedication to the crew.

“All the kids grew up swimming with Lydia,” D’ Amico mentioned. “Those two set the tone keeping things really consistent and fun. I can’t say enough about what they brought to the team.”

The coach additionally mentioned it means so much to Jacoby to have so many teammates becoming a member of her at state. Sophomore Mia Nappi is seeded fifth within the 100 breaststroke and eighth within the 100 butterfly. D’ Amico mentioned that offers her an awesome shot at making the finals in each occasions.

Junior Jackson Hen will swim the 200 IM, junior Paxton Hill will swim the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke and sophomore Bengimin Ambrosiani will swim the 100 backstroke.

“I’d like to see them all with their best times — that’s tremendous cause for celebration,” D’ Amico mentioned. “I try to take a dedicated, consistent approach to reenforce the notion that you’ve got to be happy with your best time. That’s one heck of an accomplishment.”

Soldotna will probably be represented at state by Heidi Snyder within the 100 and 500 freestyles, Nikita Monyahan within the 500 freestyle, Madison Snyder within the 100 breaststroke and Abriella Werner in diving.

Soldotna coach Luke Herman wrote in an e mail that the convention meet went rather well for his crew.

“All of our athletes had a phenomenal meet at Regions,” he wrote. “All of the hard work plus an electric team atmosphere helped push these four athletes to qualify. Abriella, Heidi, Madison and Nikita are wonderful student-athletes and we are all excited to watch them perform.”

Herman wrote that state is a good alternative for the 4.

“Our main goal for the meet is to use it as a learning experience,” he wrote. “For most of the athletes, this is their first high school state meet. Having a chance to race and dive against the best athletes in the state will give them a chance to learn and grow, as well as give them an idea of what to expect in the future.”

Kenai Central additionally qualfied 4 for state — Koda Poulin within the 200 and 500 freestyles, Hager Elserry within the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, Madison McDonald within the 500 freestyle and Samuel Anderson within the 100 backstroke.

Spectators on the meet will probably be restricted to 2 per athlete, with faculties coordinating the right way to problem vouchers to oldsters and others. Spectators should put on masks always and are restricted to the areas above the swim/dive deck. The occasion will probably be streamed, with the hyperlink out there at asaa.org.

Kenai Peninsula state swimming qualifiers

Homer — Jillian Crooks (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle); Carly Nelson (100 butterfly, 100 freestyle); Skyler Rodriguez (100 butterfly); Hunter Fry (500 freestyle); 200 freestyle relay (Jillian Crooks, Carly Nelson, McKenna Carlin, Cassidy Carroll, Hazel Pearson, Annabelle Franciscone, Olivia Overdorf, Caitlin Gamble)

Kenai Central — Koda Poulin (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle); Hager Elserry (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke); Madison McDonald (500 freestyle); Samuel Anderson (100 backstroke).

Seward — Lydia Jacoby (200 IM, 100 breaststroke); Jackson Hen (200 IM); Mia Nappi (100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke); Paxton Hill (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke); Bengimin Ambrosiani (100 backstroke).

Soldotna — Abriella Werner (diving); Heidi Snyder (100 freestyle, 500 freestyle); Nikita Monyahan (500 freestyle); Madison Snyder (100 breaststroke).

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