Seahawks, Tides competing in postseason swimming, wrestling events
Peninsula and Gig Harbor athletes open postseason competition late this week in the West Central District III 3A swimming championships and sub-regional wrestling tournament. Swimming will be staged Friday and Saturday at Mount Tahoma High in Tacoma, and wrestling Saturday at Capital High in Olympia. Spectators will be allowed to attend wrestling, but not swimming, which can be live-streamed at https://bit.ly/3okoCXa.
Swimmers from the South Sound, Pierce County, North Puget Sound and Olympic leagues dive in Friday with preliminaries beginning at 5 p.m. The top six finishers advance to the finals and seventh through 12th place to the consolation heat Saturday starting at 4 p.m. The top five and the few who have eclipsed state qualifying times will proceed to the state championships Feb. 17-19 at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
Tides Coach Mike Kelly expects to enter 14 or 15 swimmers from his squad that racked up 420 points in capturing its fourth South Sound Conference title in five years Friday. There, brothers Drew (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly) and Grant Hudson (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) each won two events, with Drew setting a meet record in the 200 IM and Grant in the 500 free. Drew has already bettered state standards in his events. Joining them atop the podium were Ryan Nagata (100 backstroke) and the 200 medley relay of London Coats, Drew Hudson, Nagata and Emmett Scott.
At district, each swimmer can compete in a maximum of two individual events and two relays or one individual event and three relays. Teams are allowed to swim four boys per individual event and one team per relay.
“The elephant in the room is Bainbridge Island,” said Kelly. “They’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of speed. In some events they have the top three or four places (coming in). As far as points go, doing my homework, Bainbridge should end the meet by the halfway point. If we swim to our capabilities, we should come in second.
“We’re just excited to see the athletes compete on Friday and try to solidify their positions going into Saturday. They’ve worked hard all season. They’ve had to work with the pandemic. It’s the time of the season where we like to see the athletes present their best efforts and be successful. That brings joy to all of us. They seem to be ready to go. Let the determination be made on Friday.”
Peninsula placed third out of seven teams in the South Sound Conference meet with 263 points on the strength of 37 season-best times — 82% of its swims.
“Which is great,” said Coach Tim Messersmith. “That’s what you want them to do, swim their fastest at the end, and they did.”
Leading the way into district and with another chance to continue improving are Jonah Bergerson in the 200 free and 100 back, Taggart Messersmith in the 100 fly and 100 back, Carter Wiltbank in the 200 IM and 100 fly, and the three relays.
“I think we will get a couple of kids and relays, too,” Messersmith said of qualifying in the top dozen to reach Saturday’s finals rounds. “The first goal is to swim their best times. You can’t control what anybody else does, then reassess our goals after that, and by all means have fun while you’re doing it.”
Thomas Cardinal, the Seahawks’ only diver, finished third in league in just his first season.
“He’s the most hardest-working and most humble kid you will ever meet,” Messersmith said. “The amount of improvement, having never gone off the diving board. He built up 11 dives to qualify for district. He’s now seeded sixth and has a legitimate shot of going to state. I’m super proud of what he’s accomplished this year.”
Gig Harbor and Peninsula will join the South Sound Conference’s six other league schools and Bainbridge, the only 3A team in the Olympic League, for the wrestling sub-regionals. The first match will start at 9:30 a.m.
Each school can enter two wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes. The top five finishers advance to regionals Feb. 11-12 at Snohomish High School. The state tournament — Mat Classic XXXIII — is scheduled for Feb. 18-19 in the Tacoma Dome.
Fourteen Seahawks and a like number of Tides will compete, which isn’t surprising after they tied their dual match last Friday that tipped to Peninsula in a tie-breaker. Neither team will fill every weight but double up in others.
“I think some of our wrestlers have a very good shot at moving on,” said Peninsula Coach Gary Griffin. “They put a lot of hard work in and started progressing. We’re starting to hit our stride and put things together.
“We’re excited. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. I think our kids are prepared to put their best foot forward.”
“My seniors are just rock solid,” said Tides Coach Blake Moser. “I’m thinking seven or eight kids can get to Snohomish. That’s what I’m hoping for. Four out of my five seniors I think are going to be able to make it through.
“I’m hoping everything comes together and goes smoothly on Saturday so we can all enjoy a good weekend of wrestling.”