Chugiak’s Burke among the stars at CIC meet
Friedli dominates diving, eyes gold at state
Chugiak’s Kaitlyn Friedli executes a dive during the CIC championships at Bartlett High. Friedli is state’s top female diver heading into this weekend’s state meet.
STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER
Talk about a three-fer.
Sammy Burke’s first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle at the Cook Inlet Conference swimming and diving championships Saturday, Oct. 29 at Bartlett High was much more than a win.
Burke’s time of 53.01 seconds not only guaranteed the Chugiak High freshman a trip to state, she also defeated her role model Mary Uselmann of Service — and set a school record in the process.
“I’m glad I got to race Mary,” Burke said. “I’ve always watched her and I’ve always wanted to be as fast as her.”
Chugiak assistant swim coach David Snyder, who confirmed Burke’s new record, said beating the Service senior — who won the 50 free — was no easy task.
“Uselmann is a good swimmer,” Snyder said. “(Sammy) obviously rose to the challenge today.”
Burke has the second-best 100 free seed time behind Kodiak’s Ila Hughes’ 52.13 entering the state meet.
Burke winning an event at the CIC meet as just a freshman was no surprise to Snyder.
“She’s been at 53 flat before,” he said. “We knew she was gonna be that good coming in.”
Burke said she was happy knowing the win will ensure a return trip to Bartlett for the state meet Nov. 4 and 5.
“I’m glad I’m for sure going to state,” she said.
Snyder said Burke’s performance at the CIC meet shows she can swim with — and beat — the best. But Kodiak, whose girls finished second as a team the past two years at state, will provide fierce competition.
“When the Kodiak girls come to town, it will be tougher,” Snyder said.
Burke wasn’t the only Mustang to set a school record.
The boys 200 medley relay of Andrew Espe, Ethan Espe, Grant Ensign and Derek Cluff knocked more than three seconds off their seed time to finish second. Their time of 1:44.32 topped the former school record by more than two seconds, Snyder said.
The temperature of Bartlett’s pool aided the relay team’s best time of the year, Ensign said.
“The water was feeling good,” he said. “It was nice and cold. Better for racing.”
Each swimmer went all-out, Ensign said.
“We all dropped time,” he said.
Ensign said the team was “extremely excited” after learning they own the new Chugiak record.
“We might have a party,” he said.
Perhaps the most dominant Mustang was Kaitlin Friedli.
The junior separated herself as the conference’s top diver by more than 86 points. Friedli’s score of 354.30 ranks her No. 1 heading into state.
“If felt really good,” Friedli said. “I was so worried. Everyone did such a great job.”
Friedli said she was particularly pleased with her double-twist-forward and back-one-and-a-half dives. Great coaching led to her success, Friedli said.
“I couldn’t have done it without any of my coaches,” she said. “They each have their own aspect, which helps.”
Chugiak head coach Jessica Kopischke returned the compliments.
“Kaitlin is a fabulous diver,” she said. “I’m so proud of her. I couldn’t be happier.”
Kopischke said Friedli is always striving to improve.
“The hard work she put in this season really paid off,” Kopischke said.
Winning the CIC meet was one of Friedli’s goals at the start of the season. Next, is taking gold at state, where Friedli finished fourth last year.
“I’m hoping to get first at state,” she said.
Friedli said she might add a new twist to one of her dives, but practice this week will focus on fine-tuning.
“We just work on form a lot,” she said. “It’s better to go with what you know than what you’re guessing on.”
Kopischke said Friedli is prepared to battle the state’s top divers.
“It’s gonna be a competition,” Kopischke said. “This is what she’s worked for all year.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or email@example.com