By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If you were looking for upsets, the Petaluma Swim Center was not the place to be Thursday night. Analy was expected to dominate this year’s Sonoma County League swim championships, and the athletes pretty much stuck to the script in the preliminary round.
The Tigers won nine of 16 individual races. Perhaps more important to coach Lehla Irwin, Analy will crowd the final round with qualifiers, especially on the girls’ side. All relays and individual finals are today.
“You’re allowed to score four swimmers in every race, except in the 50 and 100 free(style) you can score six,” Irwin said. “And I think in every race where you can have four girls, all four of our girls made the top 16, so they all made the finals. It was amazing.”
Junior Luke Ressler and sophomores Jack Murphy and Marie Alameida each claimed the fastest times in two events. Ressler was fastest in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle (with times of 50.49 and 1:52.77, respectively). Murphy was tops in the 200 individual medley (2:03.04) and 500 free (5:10.29). Alameida set the pace in the 100 free (56.56) and the 100 backstroke (101.63).
Also qualifying fastest for Analy were senior Lily Maxfield in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.14), junior Christy Schlutius in the 200 free (2:05.45) and junior Violani Auva’a in the 100 butterfly (59.00).
The Tigers were particularly impressive in the girls’ 100 fly and 100 breast, sweeping the top three qualifying times in both. In the 100 fly, Auva’a, freshman Sophie Boisseau and Schlutius were in the front of the pack. In the 100 breast it was Maxfield, junior Noah Kriegler Allen and freshman Mikayla Royer.
Of course, the Tigers weren’t alone in the pool.
The improved Sonoma Valley squad produced three top qualifiers, and Irwin fully expects the Dragons boys to battle her Tigers for the SCL championship Friday.
Finishing fast for Sonoma were senior Rick Taggesell in the 100 back (1:04.92), sophomore Owen Summers in the 100 breast (1:09.99) and a pair of precocious freshmen — Quinn Jensen in the girls’ 50 free (25.45) and Dominic Tommasi in the 100 fly (57.64).
Piner has a freshman of note, too, though perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise. Jack McCormick, son of longtime Santa Rosa JC swim coach Jill McCormick, is the league’s top seed in the 50 free, having finished in 23.15.
Petaluma senior Haley Joslin earned top honors in the 500 free with a time of 5:50.68. Her classmate Riley Scott swam the fastest qualifying time in the girls’ 200 IM at 2:03.61, but it was purely to qualify for the North Coast Section championships. Scott, our reigning All-Empire Swimmer of the Year, did not compete for the Trojans this year, and did not attempt to be seeded for Friday’s league championships.
With Scott not competing in the finals, Maxfield and Boisseau will be the top seeds in the 200 IM.
All in all, it was big day for ninth-grade swimmers. Other exceptional swimmers included Petaluma’s Owen Neufeld, second fastest in the boys’ 200 free and the 500 free; Sonoma Valley’s Hannah Ladouceur, second in the 200 free and third in the 100 back; Analy’s Josiah Miller, second in the 100 back and third in the 100 fly; and Analy’s Dominic Restivo, third in the 50 free and 100 free.
If preliminary times are any indication, the SCL has close finishes shaping up in several races, and Alameida could be involved in a couple. In the girls’ 100 free, Jensen’s time Thursday was just 26-hundredths of a second behind Alameida. In the girls’ 100 back, Auva’a was just 25-hundredths of a second off the pace set by her teammate.
Another race to watch is the boys’ 100 breast, with Sonoma Valley junior Jack Lewis just two-tenths of a second behind his teammate, Summers.
The North Bay League and Sonoma County League will be hosting their league championships this weekend:
SCL: At Petaluma Swim Center
Thursday: Swimming preliminaries (see story on this page).
Friday: Finals, begins 3:30 p.m.
NBL: At Quinn Swim Center, Santa Rosa Junior College
Friday: Diving finals (warmups 11 a.m.; meet start 12:30 p.m.); swimming preliminaries (warmups 3 p.m.; meet start 4 p.m.).
Saturday: Swimming preliminaries (warmups 8 a.m.; meet start 9:30 a.m.); swimming finals (warmups 1 p.m.; meet start