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Young Gators swim to fourth-place finish at state
By CASEY OLSON
After finishing in third place during the South Puget Sound League South Divisions regular season, not much was expected of the Decatur Gators at last weekends Class 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships.
But the Gators shocked a lot of people, including themselves, and finished up in fourth place as a team inside the King County Aquatic Center. The fourth-place finish earned Decatur the final spot on the podium during Saturday nights awards ceremony. Inglemoor won the 4A team title for the second straight year.
The fourth-place finish was 27 spots higher than the Gators ended up at last years state championships. Decatur finished 31st at the 2004 meet with pretty much the same team. The only loss was the graduation of Niko Olsrud.
The Gators clinched their spot on the podium Saturday night with a second-place swim in the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay. Decatur recorded the fourth-best time in the event during qualifying swims on Friday afternoon behind Gig Harbor, Inglemoor and Garfield, but shaved three seconds off in Saturdays final. The Gators team included freshman Briley Boggs, sophomores Danielle Alger and Katie Matulic and junior Alyssa Boggs.
After Briley Boggs got Decatur out to a solid second-place start following the first leg, Algers second leg moved the Gators into first halfway through the race. But Garfields third and fourth legs pulled away to win the race in a time of 3:39.65 to Decaturs 3:40.81.
The future looks pretty bright for the Gators entering the 2006 season. Decatur will return all of their point scorers from the state meet next year, including Matulic, who garnered a pair of top-eight appearances Saturday. Matulic finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:08.38 and eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:13.35). Briley Boggs was the only other Gator to swim in an individual final. Boggs finished in a fourth-place tie in the 100 butterfly in a time of 59.69.
Alger finished 10th overall in the 500 free in 5:14.03 and the Decatur 200 medley relay team of Alger, Jill Heydon, Briley Boggs and Alyssa Boggs won the B Final to earn ninth-place points.
Thomas Jefferson sophomore Amy Friedhoff had another solid Class 4A state meet. After grabbing a pair of third-place medals last year as a freshman, Friedhoff finished second in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 free.
Roosevelts Haley Brunner cruised to the victory in the 500. The freshman took the lead from the opening 50 yards and Friedhoff could never reel her in. Brunner won in an All-American consideration time of 5:01.53. Friedhoff followed in 5:05.04 to finish ahead of Kamiakin junior Erin Holmes.
In the 200 free final, Friedhoff couldnt overcome a strong field that saw three swimmers post automatic All-American times. Kentwoods Courtney Eronemo won the race in 1:50.91, followed by Heritages Alyssa Manlow and Foss Isabelle Fisher. Friedhoff finished in 1:55.04.
The Raiders 200 free relay team of Kari Blegan, Alexa Tovasci, Tasia Esparza and Friedhoff finished 15th overall in a time of 1:45.45.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com