Tomahawk divers lead M-P swim at state

FEDERAL WAY — Fresh out of the pool from the 400 freestyle relay, sophomore swimmer Jewel LeValley slipped into a lined, full-length canvas jacket and walked over to where her coach sat, watching the scoreboard attentively.

After swimming the event’s second heat at preliminaries, LeValley waited to see whether her team’s time of 3:54.00 would be fast enough to qualify the team for the finals race the next day.

The relay had gone through some bumps earlier in the week with senior Melinda Blomberg joining the relay after another member was unable to compete.

“Melinda had the season everyone hopes for,” said M-P coach Jaci Legore Hodgins. “Swimming her fastest last weekend at districts in her two individual events and ending her high school swim season with a personal best 100 freestyle time in her relay split of 59.3 seconds.”

But though each of the girls swam a respectable race, the relay finished in 20th place, falling four spots short of finals qualifying.

“We won’t be going to finals,” LeValley said after the fourth heat concluded.

That left just the sophomore swimmer and the Tomahawks’ two divers, Sarah Clark and Marysa Eastman, going on to finals and eligible to score points for the team standings.

While the team had higher aspirations for the meet, it was still an improvement over the girls’ showing last year, when only the divers had gone on.

“Well, we are not top 25 as a team, which is a disappointment,” Legore Hodgins said. “But it gives us something to continue to strive for next year.”

LeValley’s qualification for finals came with some surprise as she had not yet swam a state time in the 200 freestyle, getting into state on a wild card. Nonetheless, she finished 16th in prelims with a time of 2:00.73 and moved up a spot in finals to place 15th overall. It was her second season at state after swimming on a state relay as a freshman and she counted that experience as a big part of her success this season.

That kind of experience should bode well for the team next season as they return three members of the 400 freestyle relay and freshman Kendall Vincelette, who anchored that relay and qualified for state in back-to-back races, swimming the 100 freestyle and the butterfly. She swam a couple of seconds over her state qualifying times in both events, finishing 22nd in the butterfly and 25th in the 100 freestyle.

The Tomahawks will also return state divers Sarah Clark, who placed fourth and tacked on 35 points from her state showing last season with a score of 352.20, and Marysa Eastman, who placed ninth with a score of 308.55.

“Sarah Clark ended her season on a great note. Advancing from a fifth-place finish last year to fourth this year. To be fourth in the state with the caliber of divers she and Marysa were competing with this weekend is truly awesome,” Legore Hodgins said. “This team is already talking about next year and what we want to do to continue getting better overall — faster and stronger.”

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