Twice is nice: TJ's Cratsenberg snares a pair of state swimming titles

Thomas Jefferson sophomore Amber Cratsenberg won state championships in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events Saturday at the Class 4A State Girls Swimming and Diving Championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Cratsenberg helped the Raiders to a third-place finish as a team.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Thomas Jefferson sophomore Amber Cratsenberg won state championships in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events Saturday at the Class 4A State Girls Swimming and Diving Championships at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Cratsenberg helped the Raiders to a third-place finish as a team.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

Amber Cratsenberg entered Thomas Jefferson High School with one goal in mind — win multiple state swimming championships.

The Raider sophomore accomplished that goal in dramatic fashion Saturday night inside the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Cratsenberg won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races, helping Jefferson (140 points) to a third-place finish in the team standings at the Class 4A Girls State Swimming and Diving Championships.

“It was really fun,” Cratsenberg said. “I enjoyed being on the top of the podium.”

Skyline won the Class 4A title Saturday with 234 points, claiming the school’s first girls swimming championship. Garfield (176) ended up second, Issaquah (131) fourth and Todd Beamer (126) fifth.

The victory in the 50 freestyle was the most unexpected out of the two individual state titles for Cratsenberg. Kentlake junior Chelsea Bailey entered Saturday night’s final as the top seed in the event, after swimming 23.95 during Friday’s preliminary round. Bailey also cruised past Cratsenberg at the South Puget Sound League and West Central District Championships.

“I don’t think I’ve ever beaten her before,” Cratsenberg said. “But I was hoping that I would win. She is so fast.”

But beat her is exactly what Cratsenberg did Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center. The TJ sophomore bolted out of the starting blocks and finished in an ultra-impressive, season-best time of 23.87. Cratsenberg out-touched Bailey, who was eventually disqualified for not holding still on the starting blocks after finishing in 23.94.

“After swimming the 50 and winning, it made my confidence go up a bunch,” Cratsenberg said. “It made me realize that I could win the 100. I was in total shock after the 50 free.”

Cratsenberg might have been even more impressive later Saturday evening in the 100 final after holding off Stadium freshman Felicity Cann. Cratsenberg swam a 51.57, which was good enough to earn an automatic All-American time in the event. Cann finished in 52.50.

Cratsenberg entered Saturday night’s 100 final as the top qualifier in the event after posting a 51.96 the day before. That distinction earned the sophomore the right to choose the music that would be blasted over the Aquatic Center’s speakers while the competitors walked up to the starting blocks. Cratsenberg choose Jay-Z’s “Run This Town.”

“That song just gets me pumped up and ready to swim,” she said.

Beamer’s Rachel Kim also had a solid state meet. The junior swam an automatic All-American time (2:05.12) in the 200-yard individual medley, but it wasn’t good enough to win the gold medal. Eastlake sophomore Katie Kinnear won the individual medley in 2:02.53, which was three seconds better than her preliminary swim.

Kinnear also won the 100 butterfly (53:10), setting a new state record and breaking the previous mark of 53.34 set by Peninsula’s Lindsey Marchand last year.

Kim also finished in third place in the 100 backstroke (56.88). Ballard’s Annemarie Thayer won the race with a time of 54.07.

Kim also helped a pair of Beamer relay teams snare two bronze medals Saturday night. The Titans’ 200 medley relay team of Michelle Rah, Kim, Kelly Erickson and Lesley Elijah finished behind Garfield and Issaquah in a time of 1:51.79 and the same four girls also finished third in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.89).

The TJ team of Savannah Coe, Michelle Hogan, Bailey Warrior and Cratsenberg finished right behind Beamer in the 200 free relay in fourth place (1:41.81). The Raider team of Janice Huynh, Coe, Hogan and Cratsenberg ended up in fifth place in the 200 medley relay in 1:53.68.

Skyline’s Andie Taylor was voted the 4A swimmer of the meet after setting a state record in the 200 free (1:46.55) and recording the second-fasted time in state history while winning the 500 free (4:45.47). Taylor also helped Skyline win two relay titles.

Other Federal Way School District swimmers at the state meet:

• Thomas Jefferson junior Savannah Coe finished in sixth place in the 200 individual medley in 2:08.90 and fifth in the 100 breaststroke in an impressive time of 1:06.43. The first five finishers in the breaststroke all swam All-American times.

• Beamer senior Kelly Erickson finished sixth in the tightly-contested 50 free Saturday. Erickson swam 24.79 during the preliminary round Friday and during Saturday’s final. She also finished 11th in the 100 butterfly in a time of 58.66.

• The diving competition had a big-time Federal Way feel Saturday night. The final 16 divers included four from the Federal Way School District. The highest finisher was TJ’s Madison Kellar. The sophomore ended up in sixth place with 326.90 points. Auburn’s Shawna Jordan won the state title with 422.80 points.

Decatur senior Angela Hanson was seventh with 325.90 points, Beamer sophomore Elizabeth Wiley was ninth (319.55) and Jefferson freshman Monica Church was 15th (275.55). Jefferson freshman Shelby Church failed to qualify for Saturday’s final round.

• Decatur sophomore Kelsey Crowder finished eighth in the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:00.08. She also ended up 10th in the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:10.95 Saturday. Crowder missed qualifying for the “A” Final (top eight) by .09 seconds after Friday’s swim.

• Federal Way junior Kaia Barth ended up 11th in the 50 free in a time of 25.14 and 11th in the 100 free (55.37).

• Beamer freshman Michelle Rah finished 20th in the 100 butterfly in a time of 1:02.71 and 16th in the 100 backstroke (1:02.92).

• The Beamer 400 relay team of Katie Kramer, Elise Marshall, Annalise Miller and Elijah finished 24th in 4:15.67.

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