Sports

Record day for tankers

Saturday represented a day of firsts for the Oak Harbor boys swim team.

The Wildcats won the program’s the first ever district championship in a relay event, crowned individual champions for the first time since 1993 and will send the most swimmers ever to the state meet.

“We had a good day,” head coach Neil Romney said modestly. “They were all close to their best swims of the year.”

Oak Harbor’s strongest team performance this season earned them a third place finish at the 4A North swim and dive finals at Marysville-Pilchuck High School with 217 points. Snohomish (409) and Marysville (262) took first and second respectively.

Saving the best for last, the Wildcats’ 400- meter freestyle relay team of Josh Luttrell, Jason Hunter, Brian Hall and Kyle Ciminski capped off the day’s events with arguably the most exciting race. For the first time since the formation of the swimming program in 1988, the OHHS boys captured a district crown in a relay event, edging out Snohomish in a thriller.

“It was exciting,” Romney said. “We started out with a little bit of a lead, then they started to catch up.”

With the lead going into the final leg, Ciminski used a blazing 48-second performance to edge out a charging Panther comeback. The Cats finished at a school record 3:22.06 with Snohomish just behind at 3:22.21.

“We knew we would have to have the lead coming into that final leg,” Romney said. “He came up on Kyle and Kyle didn’t let him go. Everybody on that relay swam a great race.”

The new school record time represented the third occasion the 400 free relay team broke the record this season, with the new time nearly four seconds faster than its previous best.

Ciminski also captured an individual district title in the 100 breaststroke with a school record 1:01.17. The new time shattered the school record of 1:02.65 he set in the prelims a day earlier.

“He led from start to finish and looked dominant,” Romney said.

Hunter took an individual crown in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:03.82. After trailing to Dan Shurts of Snohomish for nearly three-quarters of his race, Hunter got a burst in the final 35-meters that sent him to victory.

“I wasn’t really sure about that race until the last 10 yards,” Romney said.

The other two relay teams also earned automatic state qualifying times earlier in the season. The 200-medley relay of Aaron Ridle, Russell Chesnut, Cameron Spence, Matt Bender, Ciminski, Luttrell, Hunter and Hall will make the trip along with the 200 free relay of Matt Renninger, Chesnut, Spence, Ciminski, Luttrell, Hunter, Hall, and Bender.

Along with their two other individual qualifications, Hunter and Ciminski also qualified for the 100 butterfly. Josh Luttrell dropped almost four seconds off his previous season best in the 100 free to go 50.35 and qualify for a wildcard slot at state.

The state meet kicks off this Friday, Feb. 20 at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way. Seedings and times for championships weren’t released as of press time. Log on to http:www/wisca.org to find out more information.

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