Gators gunning for return to state


Associate editor

Just because we are running out of things to write about Decatur senior Joon Youm doesnŽ’t mean his accomplishments arenŽ’t worth repeating.

After all, repeating is what Youm is best at.

Coming into his senior season, Youm is the two-time Washington State Swimmer of the Year, a two-time All-American in the breaststroke, and a two-time state champion in both the breaststroke and the individual medley.

And Youm is looking forward to adding to his list of accomplishments.

Ž“Joon has kind of been hit in the face by the understanding that this is his last high school season,Ž” Decatur coach Heather Kreier said. Ž“He is a great swimmer and heŽ’s always been kind of above this level. He drives off competition and he hasnŽ’t quite gotten it here. When he gets to college heŽ’ll be back in the masses and it will keep his competitiveness honed in.Ž”

Youm hasnŽ’t decided on a college yet, but is waiting until after the state tournament in February.

Last season, Youm and his Decatur teammates peaked at the right time and placed fourth in the state tournament with just four swimmers able to compete.

Three of those swimmers back for this season and the Gators are looking to do even better.

Ž“IŽ’m really excited,Ž” Kreier said. Ž“This season is off to a great start and weŽ’re hoping to be a little higher on the podium at state.Ž”

Youm and teammate Tyson Sullivan, now a senior, took first and second in the breaststroke at state, took first and sixth in the 200 individual medley, then teamed up with Kevin Sweeney, a senior who goes to Bellarmine Prep but swims for Decatur, and since-graduated Adam Reinick to win the 200 medley relay. The group was also fourth in the 200 free relay.

Decatur sophomore Eric Johnson qualified for state in the 500 free but was unable to swim because of illness. He is looking to go back this season, possibly in another event. Sophomore Allan Silver and senior Andy Johnson also add experience to the Gators.

Additional depth is provided by talented newcomers Seamus Alger, a ninth-grader who has already qualified for state in the 200 IM, and Erich Matulic, a sophomore transfer from Kennedy who placed in the 500 and 200 freestyle events at last yearŽ’s 3A state meet. Matulic has already qualified for state in the 200 free and the 500 free.

Matulic will receive competition not far from home in Federal WayŽ’s Jon Hiett, a ninth-grader who also qualified for state in the 500 free in the first meet of the season.

While the Eagles received a boost from newcomer Jon Hiett, they are led by the senior experience of his older brother Greg Hiett.

Greg is one of two Eagles who has competed at state in individual events, the other being sophomore Peter Larsen.

Greg swam at state last year in the 200 IM and 100 breast, then teamed up on two relays that qualified for state, with combination of sophomores Larsen, Chris McColgan and junior Alan Hunter.

All of those swimmers are vying for a return to state, both on relays and as individuals. Sophomore Bryant Bevers is also contributing in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Junior Eric Weishaar, who swam on a relay team at state as a ninth-grader, adds depth and experience to the Eagles.

The Jefferson swim team is led by junior Andrew Jung, who placed at state last year in the 200 IM and backstroke. HeŽ’s already qualified for state in both events this season.

Junior Matt Diotte leads the team as a sprint freestyler.

Jung and Diotte helped the Raiders to second at state in the 200 medley and third in the 200 free relay.

Senior B.J. Smith has qualified for state in the 200 free. He swam that and the butterfly at state last year.

Jefferson sophomore Danny Smith swam at state last year in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

Top newcomers for the team include ninth-grader Kevin Bellefuille in the backstroke, versatile ninth-grader David Bai in just about any event, junior Reed Baughman in the breaststroke and junior diver Bryce Gravel.

Overall, the team has a few elite swimmers but not quite enough people. Only 13 swimmers were eligible for the first meet.

Ž“We donŽ’t have much depth at all,Ž” coach Malcom Neely said. Ž“Our typical placement (at the first meet) was first, then fifth and sixth.Ž”

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