Nine swimmers from Kachemak Swim Club endured four days of intense competition at the Junior Olympics in Anchorage. J.O. is the culminating championship meet in Alaska, and age group coach Jaime Roth called qualifying a “remarkable feat.”
“Besides making a challenging cut, swimmers have to retain focus and dedication throughout the year in order to arrive at this meet and be at their best,” Roth said. “All of our swimmers brought their best to this meet, and they demonstrated the dynamic team spirit they are known for. They showed their passion for the sport, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”
This was the final KSC competitive swim meet for seniors — and twins — James and Mark Nagle.
Mark excelled in the 100 freestyle, 400 individual medley and 1650 free, picking up best times in all three. And, despite being sick the entire meet, James swam strongly in the 200 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 100 fly.
The Nagles have been active in KSC for six years, teaching a number of younger swimmers who look up to them. Coaches said the brothers brought energy and enthusiasm to the entire team and will be missed as they graduate and head to college.
Thirteen-year-old Clayton Arndt rocked the 200 and 400 IM, receiving best times in both. Teammate Griffin Downey was the team’s star male breaststroker, taking almost seven seconds off his 200 breaststroke, and 2.5 seconds off his 100 breast.
Aurora Shadle competed in the 50 freestyle — her favorite event — and spent much of the meet cheering and encouraging her teammates. Coaches said it is Shadle’s “usual unselfish and unwavering support.”
Junior Olympics was the first championship meet for Sailey Rhodes, where she got a best individual time in the 100 breaststroke, and put in a strong performance in her two relays.
Piper Kassouni took three full seconds off her 50 breaststroke and finished first in her heat. She also swam in two relays.
Ella Blanton-Yourkowski’s start in the 50 backstroke “wowed” the crowd. Coaches said Ella “body-dolphined” past the half line underwater; a skill many high school swimmers don’t perfect. Ella is 10 years old. She also got best times in two other events and was the lead leg in both relays.
Madison Story swam in seven individual events and two relays, competing in more events than any other KSC swimmer. Madison opened with the 200 IM, where she dropped a mind-blowing 10 seconds off her best time. She earned best times in the 50 breaststroke and 50 butterfly on Sunday, and finished third in both events.
KSC head coach Rebecca Hardy called her team, “refreshing, dedicated and so supportive of each other.”
“There was a real feeling of friendship and affection between these swimmers across the age differences,” Hardy explained. “I am so proud of this group of kids. They worked hard and came to this competition ready to be their best; and they were amazing.”
The Homer baseball team opened up the season with a 17-0 loss in Kodiak on Friday and a 10-5 loss on Saturday in Northern Lights Conference action.
For Homer, Nahoa Jette gave up 10 runs — nine earned — in 1 1-3 innings, while Kyle Johnson yielded seven runs — none earned — in 1 2-3 innings.
Saturday, Jette walked and scored twice to lead the way. Wiley Donich pitched the first 3 1-3 innings, giving up 10 runs — eight earned. Sheldon Hutt pitched the final 2 2-3 innings, giving up no runs.
The Lady Mariner softball team also had a rough weekend, dropping away games to big-school teams. Homer fell 2-11 to Chugiak on Friday, and managed only one run in their 1-10 loss to East High School later in the evening. On Saturday, the Lady M’s dropped a 3-16 slugfest to West Anchorage, and then fell 2-10 to the South Anchorage Wolverines.
Homer softball travels southeast on Friday for weekend play against Juneau. Mariner baseball hosts Colony on Friday and Saturday, with varsity games held at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.
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