Friedli defends state diving title
13 local athletes reach finals
Eagle River junior Kate Mondl swims to a sixth-place finish in the 500 free at state. She was also part of the 400 free relay — Eagle River’s first relay to make state.
Winning a state title is emotional.
Just ask Kaitlin Friedli.
Tears streamed down the Chugiak senior’s face as she hugged her younger brother, Max, after successfully defending her diving title at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Swimming and Diving State Championships on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Bartlett.
“I put so much work into this year,” Friedli said. “It’s so nice to be rewarded for your work.”
Friedli, who finished first in every meet she competed in this season, said her final competition as a Mustang felt surreal.
“That was my last high school dive. It’s so unreal,” she said.
Friedli said she plans to dive in college and has been talking with Colgate University, but hasn’t signed a letter of intent.
Eagle River freshman Jami Stone placed third in diving.
Stone said her finish was “unexpected,” but not to Wolves’ diving coach MaryAnn Curtis.
“I knew she could easily be in the top five,” Curtis said. “She’s a natural.”
Stone’s skiing and gymnastics background transfer well to diving, Curtis said, and her attitude couldn’t be better.
“She’s a really great kid. Easy to teach and a natural athlete,” Curtis said. “You can’t really ask for anything more than that.”
In boys diving, Chugiak’s Shawn Fugere placed eighth.
Kodiak’s girls and Dimond’s boys won the team titles.
Including relays, both local high schools had a combined 13 athletes reach finals.
Three Mustangs finaled in two events apiece. Sammy Burke finished third in the 100 back and fifth in the 200 free, and Emmie Jennings took second in the 100 free and fifth in the 100 breast to help Chugiak’s girls to a fifth-place team finish.
Ethan Espe was sixth in the 100 breast and eighth in the 100 fly for Chugiak’s boys, which finished 16th overall.
Burke, Jennings, Abby Blackstone and Cierra Holtman finished fourth in the 200 medley and 400 free relays for Chugiak.
Eagle River had two underclassmen reach finals in two events each.
Sophomore Blaise Fox-Icarro was eighth in the 200 free and seventh in the 100 fly for the boys, who finished 20th as a team, while freshman Julia Geskey took fourth in the 200 IM and eighth in the 100 breast for Eagle River’s girls, which finished ninth.
“It’s an accomplishment for them to be here,” Wolves’ head coach Anna McGlocklin said.
Geskey said she was pleased with her 200 IM performance.
“It was a 10-second drop from the start of the season,” she said.
As a freshman, reaching finals in two individual events was an unexpected — but pleasant — surprise for Geskey.
“I’m really happy to be here at all,” she said.
Kate Mondl placed sixth in the 500 free for the Wolves. She also teamed up with Geskey, Jordyn Bruce and Courtney Fox-Singh in the 400 free relay — Eagle River’s first relay to compete at state.
Their time of 3 minutes, 50.55 seconds was more than three seconds faster than their seed time. It’s also a new school record, McGlocklin said.
“It was a great way to end the season,” she said.
Chugiak also had success in the final event.
“That was their best swim of the year,” Mustangs’ assistant swim coach Katie Espe said of the girls 400 free relay time of 3:42.43.
Coach Espe said she couldn’t ask for a better team than the swimmers on this year’s squad.
“It’s a great group of kids,” she said. “Great season.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or email@example.com.