By John Boyle Herald Writer
The road that leads to Archbishop Murphy High School dead ends, appropriately enough, at the football stadium.
One of the first things every student, faculty member and visitor sees at the end of 39th Ave. Southeast in Everett is the back of the stadium that is home to the perennial football power started more than a decade ago by late coaching legend Terry Ennis. Displayed prominently on the back of the stadium is a banner celebrating the two state titles won by that football program, as well as championships won in baseball and boys and girls soccer.
Sometime soon — maybe not this year, but not too far down the road either — the school may have to make room on that banner for the boys swimming and diving team, which in only its fourth year of existence, is a program on the rise.
The Wildcats head to Anacortes for today’s 2A District 1 Swimming and Diving Championships still trying to unseat perennial state power Sehome, but the gap is definitely getting smaller as Archbishop Murphy’s program grows. Last year the Wildcats finished 10th at state, but that was entirely based on points scored by then sophomore Alec Barnard, who won a pair of individual titles. Barring some very unexpected results this weekend, Barnard will have company at state this year as the Wildcats expect to contend for their first trophy.
Coach Mike McCloskey calls this year’s team “by far the strongest team,” and while he doesn’t like to talk to his swimmers about results, he believes a top-4 finish at state is a realistic goal as long as everyone performs up to their abilities.
“My experience is the more you talk about it, the more apt you are to fail to meet that goal,” said McCloskey, who is the school’s development director. “… If they all do their job, it takes care of itself. But what I told the guys is that if you do your jobs, there’s no reason you can’t be in the trophies this year — top four get trophies — that would be a heck of an achievement for a fourth-year program.”
McCloskey, who coached swimming for 15 years at Seattle Prep and won a state title in 1996, had been out of coaching for almost a decade when Murphy’s principal at the time, Kris Brynildsen-Smith, whose son had swam on McCloskey’s club team years earlier, talked to him about starting a program at Archbishop Murphy.
The team started with a mix of first-time swimmers, many of whom were football players, and more serious swimmers with club swimming backgrounds, and in its second year finished sixth at state. Last year only Barnard qualified for state, but that should change this weekend.
In addition to Barnard, who has won three state titles in the past two years, fellow junior Hunter Cosgrove is a contender to score points at state, as are freshman Austin Barnard, Alec’s brother, and freshman Stephen Boden. The Wildcats also have three divers heading to districts this week — junior Steven Kane, freshman Rory Krueger and freshman Elliott Forde — who all have state aspirations.
Alec Barnard, who won the 200-yard freestyle as a freshman and the 200 free and 100 butterfly as a sophomore, will have the spotlight on him this weekend and next, but he doesn’t put pressure on himself to win as much as he does to continue to improve.
“For me, it’s just go in there and swim and see what happens,” he said. “I don’t think too much about it. For me it’s about the time I go. If it’s a best time, then great, I don’t care about the place really. It’s more about a personal best for me.”
What is also important to Barnard is having some company at state this year.
“This is the first time there will be more than just me at the state meet, so that’s pretty cool,” he said.
The Wildcats don’t know just how far they can go this postseason, but they do expect the best finish in the young program’s history, and with no seniors on the team, the future looks even brighter. And while the football team will likely always remain the marquee program at Archbishop Murphy, that banner hanging from the stadium may be making room for the swimming and diving team soon. This current group of athletes hopes to be the group that launched a program that will enjoy years of success.
“It really sets some sort of standard for other kids coming in and say, ‘They did this early on, why can’t we?’” said Cosgrove. “Maybe it will create more interest from more incoming freshmen.
“We hope we can bring it in the limelight and show that swimming is important as any other sport like football and basketball.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.
4A Northwest District 1 Boys Swim and Dive Championships
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. (finals)
Where: Kamiak H.S.
State qualifiers: Top 3 from Wesco in each event advance to state (including all state-qualifying times)
Competing schools: Cascade, Edmonds-Woodway, Jackson, Kamiak, Lake Stevens, Mariner, Marysville Pilchuck, Monroe, Snohomish, Stanwood
Top times: 200 Free-John Stupey (K) 1:47.36, AJ Jenkins (C) 1:48.69, Trent Roberts (K) 1:50.07; 200 Individual Medley-Liam Sosinsky (K) 2:01.26, Stupey (K) 2:02.12; 50 Free-Conner McGinnis (J) 22.60, Stupey (K) 22.76; Diving-Sean Mulvihill (K) 317.1, Chase Reid (LS) 313.65; 100 Butterfly-Stupey (K) 53.17, Jenkins (C) 53.56, Colin Willis (MP) 54.43; 100 Free-Stupey (K) 49.80, Willis (MP) 50.07; 500 Free-Stupey (K) 4:55.12, Justin Murrell (Stan) 5:00.16; 100 Backstroke-Stupey (K) 54.55, McGinnis (J) 56.48, Murrell (Stan) 56.70; 100 Breaststroke-Sosinsky (K) 1:00.66.
3A Northwest District 1 Boys Swim and Dive Championships
When: Today, 5 p.m. (prelims) and Saturday, 4 p.m. (finals)
Where: Marysville Pilchuck H.S.
State qualifiers: Top 3 from Wesco 3A in each event advance to state (including all state-qualifying times)
Competing schools: Ferndale, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Oak Harbor, Marysville Getchell, Everett, Glacier Peak, Meadowdale, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Shorewood, Shorecrest
Top times: 200 Free-Carter Osborne (SC) 1:49.37, Jacob Jepsen (OH) 1:49.05; 200 Individual Medley-Josh Jepsen (OH) 2:04.03; Diving-Eddie Young (Shorewood) 474.7, Nathan Hannah (SC) 306.9; 100 Free-Osborne (SC) 49.57, Andrew Garrison (Shorewood) 50.12; 500 Free-Jacob Jepsen (OH) 4:54.81; 100 Backstroke-Osborne (SC) 57.47; 100 Breaststroke-Josh Jepsen (OH) 1:03.71.
2A Northwest District 1 Swim and Dive Championships
When: Today at 2:45 p.m. (prelims) and Saturday at 2:45 p.m. (finals)
Where: Fidalgo Pool, Anacortes
Competing schools: Anacortes, Archbishop Murphy, Bellingham, Burlington-Edison, Lynden, Sehome, Squalicum
Top times: 200 Free-Alec Barnard (1:48.35); 200 Individual Medley-Alec Barnard (2:06.81); 50 Free-Alec Barnard (22.84); 100 Butterfly-Alec Barnard (54.83); 100 Free-Alec Barnard (50.47); 500 Free-Austin Barnard (5:00.83); 100 Backstroke-Hunter Cosgrove (57.46)