Who knew Falcons could fly in the water?
The Catalina Foothills swim team extended its regular season dominance into Saturday’s 4A regional meet, winning the meet as well as nearly every individual championship and backing up the slogan emblazoned on one team T-shirt: “Varsity – Owning noobs since the new millennium.”
The Falcons owned more than noobs – slang for newbies – at the meet.
Foothills, 4A-I boys and girls state champions for eight years running, took home 18 regional championships, including a title in every relay competition.
Something else owned by Foothills: a new 4A Southern division record in the 100-yard butterfly set by senior Roger Miesfeld with a time of 51.51 seconds.
The boys’ team, led by dual-event champions Miesfeld, senior Herbie Behm and junior Adrian Brynnel, left James Kriegh Pool with 11 regional championships, many times finishing first and second in the same race.
The girls’ team won seven titles, relying on standout performances from juniors Olivia Luko and Karima Chuk. Especially dominant was Chuk, the only Falcon woman to win two championships. In winning the 500-yard freestyle, Chuk finished nearly 12 seconds ahead of the second-place time.
“Foothills does a great of job of peaking at just the right time every year,” said veteran meet referee Tim Krapp.
“We always try to set ourselves up for positioning at state in terms of assignments,” said head coach RJ Lundstrom.
“We had some kids that were on the bubble and really stepped it up today, so hopefully we’ll get not only our number one and two swimmers into state, but also the three and four swimmers,” he added.
Lundstrom’s wish was granted when the Arizona Interscholastic Association released the state meet roster. The Falcons led all teams with 69 qualifying times.
The Canyon Del Oro swim team finished second to the Falcons in the 4A Sonoran division, and managed to qualify 29 times, largely on the strength of a talented girls’ team led by Lauren Baker and Rachel Baumann.
The junior duo was the main obstacle to the Foothills team, as Baker finished first in the 200 yard individual medley and 100 yard fly, and Baumann dominated short-distance freestyle, winning both the 50- and 100-yard contests.
“Rachel and Lauren will probably both be in the top eight at state, and our girls’ relays will be in the top three, if not in the running for a state championship,” said CDO coach Chad Reister.
On the boys’ side, Reister thinks freshman Jordan Belton, second in 4A Sonoran in the 500 freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle, will be a factor at state.
“He is still learning how to swim that way, but he has a chance to make it,” said Reister.
The self-appointed Marana “Zoo” finished third, posting regional championships by junior Jordan Jeffries in the 100 backstroke and senior Brindy Bringhurst in the 100 yard breaststroke, and enjoying an overall positive experience, said assistant coach Brett Borguet.
“Everyone was dropping times, everyone was having fun, it was just unbelievable,” said Borguet. “The swimmers are leaving this place feeling really great about their performances.”
In addition to Jeffries and Bringhurst, the Tigers got solid efforts from junior Drew Hill, third place in the 50 and 100 freestyles, and senior Tamara Armstrong, fourth in the 500 yard freestyle.
Marana qualified for state 23 times, and earned a six seed in the boys 200 medley relay.
Perhaps the swimming attitude can be best illustrated by a longstanding Catalina Foothills tradition.
Every year, when the AIA used to post the state meet roster, a different team member’s family would host a late-night party complete with hot dogs and hamburgers, and the team would wait to see who qualified – a easygoing way to see results achieved through intense commitment and hard work.
The AIA now waits a day to post results, but Foothills has continued the tradition, making the party a senior tribute night, according to Lundstrom.
“It’s a good way for the kids to bond, and to recognize the seniors on the team for what they’ve done for us,” said Lundstrom.