Roberts takes third in state swim championship

Senior Jack Roberts outswam athletes from much larger schools around Alaska at the state championship swim meet Nov. 3 and 4 in Juneau, placing third in the 100-yard freestyle at 47.95 seconds and seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:00.83.

He earned the Wrangell swim team's first state medal since the program began six years ago.

Roberts' freestyle time was a fraction of a second behind the first-place finisher, Ben Price of Anchorage's Service High School, who completed the race in 47.12. Roberts' breaststroke time was also competitive - about six seconds behind PJ Foy of Juneau's Thunder Mountain High School, who took first at 54.67.

Roberts' state breaststroke time was a personal best, beating his 1:01.29 performance at Southeast regionals. His freestyle at state was barely slower than his 47.73 personal best at regionals.

In Alaska, high school swimmers aren't assigned to divisions based on the size of their schools, pitting Wrangell against schools with student populations of more than 1,500. Roberts was the only Wrangell swimmer competing at state.

The Service men's team took first place overall at state with 122 points, followed by Eagle River at 64 and Chugiak at 62. Based on Roberts' performance, Wrangell finished 13th with eight points.

Juneau Douglas High School: Kalé took first for the women with 101 points, followed by Thunder Mountain with 90 and Eagle River with 75.

The previous weekend, on Oct. 27-28, the Wolves competed in the regional championship in Sitka.

The team swam 20 individual events and two relay events, earning 14 total personal best times.

The team's three seniors, Roberts, Alisha Armstrong and Nate Rooney, each progressed from the preliminary round to the finals - a race between the region's top eight swimmers - in at least one of their events.

Like he did in 2022, Roberts won the regional championship in the 100-yard freestyle and took third in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Armstrong made it to the finals for her 500-yard freestyle and Rooney made it to the finals with his 100-yard butterfly.

Rooney "earned some family bragging rights with that swim by beating his uncle Robbie's fastest butterfly time from when Robbie was a senior," said coach Jamie Roberts.

Armstrong and Roberts made the region's all-academic swim team, an honor that recognizes athletes' performance in the pool and in the classroom.

Madelyn Davies, Anika Herman, Kalee Herman, Johanna Sanford and Andrei Siekawitch also represented Wrangell at regionals.

"This group of kids has worked hard all season and kept getting better every meet," said Roberts.

They also showed an unexpected affinity for endurance events, which Roberts plans to build on in future seasons. "What was most surprising for me was how many of them would end up swimming the longer-distance freestyle event," said Roberts. "It started as a dare, with one swimmer saying, 'I'll swim it if you swim it.'

"I don't typically have many distance swimmers, as our practice time is too short to properly train pacing for distance swimming," she added. "I often spend a majority of the season working on technique and endurance for the shorter events, especially if the swimmers don't have a lot of competitive swim experience. In the future, I am going to give more focus and time to some distance training."

The Thunder Mountain girls team won the regional meet with 176 points, followed by Juneau Douglas: Kalé at 157 and Craig at 49. The Wrangell girls came in sixth with 17 points.

The Ketchikan High School boys won with 182 points, followed by Thunder Mountain at 100 and Sitka at 76. The Wrangell boys came in seventh with 16 points.


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