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Kentlake finishes undefeated season| Boys Swimming
Domination — that’s what Kentlake’s boys swim and dive team did in the final two meets of the season over Tahoma and Jefferson as it racked up over 100 points in each meet.
Kentlake wrapped up an undefeated regular season last Thursday with a 110-60.5 win over Jefferson to finish the South Puget Sound League 4A North schedule 7-0-1 with the tie coming against four-time division champion Kentridge on Jan. 5.
In the meet against the Raiders on the road, the Falcons won seven of the 12 events, but more importantly they picked up multiple points in each event including sweeping three — the 200 yard freestyle, the 500 free and diving competition.
Heading into that meet, senior co-captain Tyler Royal did all he could to motivate the Falcons.
“The captain in me was yelling at my team, saying, ‘Hey, we’re going into another team’s house, they’re going to see an undefeated, cocky team,’ and they’re going to say ‘We want to beat them,’” Royal said. “Let’s not hold back. Let’s not stop now.”
Once the meet was over and it was clear Kentlake had done something historic for its program, the team decided to celebrate by taking a picture together outside the pool.
“It feels good, it feels incredible,” Royal said of going undefeated.
Junior co-captain David Dougherty said, “Mostly I was just really happy because this has never happened. We’ve never had this great of a coach or a team.”
Then it was focusing on what comes next — the SPSL Championship Saturday at Curtis High.
“I have a feeling we’re going to swim a lot of yards this week,” Royal said.
But that’s important, he explained, because in order to win the league meet they need to “work hard, stay focused, don’t get cocky.”
Freshman Erik Fulmer said that Kentlake’s new coach, Diana Ekstrom, is a key to the team’s success.
“We have a lot of good swimmers, not just the KING (club) swimmers, there are people who haven’t even swam competitively before,” Fulmer said. “We’re all just hard workers and we don’t like to lose.”
Tanner Keeling-Garcia, a sophomore who has earned four automatic state qualifying times over the course of the season and swims club, said he hopes the effort pays off this weekend.
After tying Kentridge 93-93 earlier in the month, Keeling-Garcia said, they think they’ve figured out what they need to do beat the Chargers.
“Last time it was after winter break,” he said. “We had like, three practices over break, they had 14. So, we were definitely out of shape and you really saw that. Some of our superstars were just average in that meet so, I think (heading into league) that we’re going to be in a better position. I’m excited.”
Dougherty said he thinks the chances are pretty good but he thinks it’s best to not count out Curtis at the league meet.
“Our coach has said she wants us to win SPSL and I think that’s a great goal to have but Curtis has won for as long as I can remember,” Dougherty said. “If we can break their record that would be amazing.”
Christian Knobloch, a junior who won the 200 free against Jefferson and took second in the 100 butterfly, said this season has been “amazing.”
Knobloch wasn’t sure at the start of the year how the season was going to go because the Falcons had lost a number of strong swimmers then guys like Fulmer and Keeling-Garcia showed up.
“We’ll definitely improve and that will help to finally topple Kentridge off their throne,” Knobloch said.
Senior diver Doug Goodgion said there is a sense of unity, too, that has helped contribute to Kentlake’s success.
“This year I feel like the team is more connected,” Goodgion said. “Last year everyone was just doing it for themselves. THis year I feel like diving has become more part of the team.”
Goodgion has posted a number of second place finishes this season behind fellow senior Taylor Welch, who is in his first year diving, and those points definitely help the Falcons’ cause.
“I’m really excited to be part of such a good team,” Goodgion said. “I hadn’t been part of a team for a while and it’s a really good feeling.”
He thinks that he and Welch can place well this weekend.
More importantly, he thinks Kentlake’s success this year has laid a solid foundation for the future.
“It’s a good start for next year,” Goodgion said. “It’s a good promoter for the swim program. It well get people to come out because people like to be part of a winning program.”
Keeling-Garcia thinks it will also encourage other club swimmers to jump in the water for their high school team.
For now, though, Kentlake wants to continue its undefeated streak.
“We’ve put in the time,” Keeling-Garcia said. “We’ve done the work.”