FEDERAL WAY — For an entire year, Jonathan Cook had been eyeing the Class 4A state-meet record for the 200-yard individual medley.
Only recently did the Jackson phenom realize the 100-breaststroke record also was within reach.
Cook, a junior, broke both records Saturday while winning repeat titles in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke during the state swim and dive championships at King County Aquatics Center. The dominant showing earned him Class 4A Swimmer of the Meet honors for the second consecutive year.
“Technically, he’s gifted,” Jackson coach Drew Whorley said. “That kind of goes without saying — (and) the hard work, all that sort of stuff.
“But at this point, it’s here,” said Whorley, pointing to his head. “It’s psychological, it’s confidence, it’s training with confidence, it’s your attitude and it’s your belief in yourself.”
Cook began by defending his crown in the 200 IM with a record-setting time of 1 minute, 48.36 seconds, breaking the previous mark — which had stood almost three decades, since 1988 — by nearly one second. Cook beat second-place finisher Ethan Dang of Hazen by 3.73 seconds and third-place Eric Wu of Camas by nearly six seconds.
Cook had his sights set on the 200 IM record ever since coming within 0.25 seconds of the mark at last year’s state meet.
“The attitude the entire year has been that he wanted to come back and beat that meet record,” Whorley said. “The fact that he was so close made it a realistic goal.”
Later in the meet, Cook broke his second meet record of the day with a winning time of 53.91 seconds in the 100 breaststroke. He finished 0.53 seconds in front of second-place Dang and 0.58 seconds faster than the previous record, which was set by Snohomish’s Garren Riechel in 2009.
Eclipsing that mark — and finishing in less than 54 seconds — was less expected.
“I’m over the moon with that,” Cook said, later adding, “I’m just extremely happy with my 100 breaststroke.”
Cook, who earned three top-25 finishes at the USA Swimming Winter Junior Nationals West meet in December in Texas, said his best event on the club circuit is the 200 breaststroke — which isn’t an event at the high-school level. Until recently, Cook had struggled to separate the more endurance-based 200-yard race from the sprint-centered 100-yard race.
“I was really hung up on the 100 breaststroke,” Cook said. “I could never quite get my sprint speed up. But back in December, my club coach started talking to me about having a separate mindset between the 100 and the 200. And since, I’ve really put some thought into the 100 stroke and sprinting it — just thinking about it as a different (swim).”
Cook said that about a month ago he began zeroing in on the 100 breaststroke record. And the Jackson standout attacked that mark with fury on Saturday.
“(Coach) Drew over the last week had been repeating to me a quote by (boxer) Mike Tyson: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’” Cook said. “And the equivalent to that in swimming was to take it out as fast as a I possibly could. … So I followed his directions exactly, took it out as hard as I could and knew that I had it on the back end.”
Cook also shined in the relays, leading the Timberwolves to a pair of fifth-place finishes. The Jackson team of junior Neal Thai, Cook, freshman Justin Limberg and junior Edward Engel swam the 200 freestyle relay in 1:29.49. Cook later anchored the team of Engel, senior Jeremiah Tien and Limberg to a time of 3:14.99 in the 400 freestyle relay.
Led by Cook, the Timberwolves earned a trophy by placing fourth in 4A team standings with 192 points. Camas cruised to the team title with 302 points.
Whorley is thrilled that Cook — now a four-time individual state champion — still has one more season in the Jackson program.
“For as fun as he is to coach, as versatile as he is and the ways in which he helps our team, he’s just an incredible leader and he’s an incredible teammate,” Whorley said. “And I think that’s the thing that’s probably the most special about him. … He’s the consummate teammate. He’s got the right attitude, he brings everybody up with him and the guys want to see him be successful.”
The Jackson team of sophomore Erik Anderson, junior Bryan Phung, Tien and Thai took fifth place in the 200 medley relay (1:39.28). Tien also placed sixth in the 100 butterfly (52.37) and seventh in the 200 IM (1:57.28). Anderson finished eighth in both the 500 freestyle (4:54.97) and 100 backstroke (55.10).
Vikings freshman rallies for third place
Lake Stevens’ Alejandro Flores was in fifth place on the final stretch of the 4A 100 breaststroke — certainly no small feat for a freshman like himself.
But as he closed the gap on two swimmers in front of him, Flores knew he wanted more.
“Third was what I wanted,” Flores said. “I was like, ‘I gotta go, I gotta go.’ And sometimes you just find it when you need it.”
Flores passed two swimmers in the final five yards, out-touching them by 0.06 and 0.16 seconds, respectively, to take third place with a time of 57.41 seconds. The only swimmers to finish in front of him were Jackson’s Cook and Hazen’s Dang.
“He just hunted it down,” Lake Stevens coach Brady Dykgraaf said. “He wanted it. He manned up today. It was pretty cool to watch.”
Flores also placed eighth in the 200 IM (1:59.18) for Lake Stevens, which finished ninth in the 4A team standings with 95 points.
Lake Stevens junior Carter Walles also earned a pair of podium finishes, taking third place in the 500 freestyle (4:43.81) by a 0.1-second margin and placing sixth in the 200 freestyle (1:45.83). The Vikings team of senior Miles Slater, junior Coleson Wynne, Walles and Flores took sixth place in the 400 freestyle relay (3:15.44).
The Kamiak team of freshman Maxwell Fang, junior Walter Limm, sophomore Alex Kirby and freshman Brian Park placed fourth in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:29.47, edging the Cook-led Jackson team by 0.02 seconds. Fang also placed fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:45.46) to help the Knights take 10th in the team standings with 80 points.
Snohomish diver battles through illness
Zachary Thomas’ high-school diving career didn’t end with the state title he’d hoped for. But given the circumstances, it would’ve been difficult to ask for more from the Snohomish senior.
Battling mononucleosis, Thomas gritted out a third-place finish in the 3A competition with 362.8 points.
Thomas, who placed fifth in last year’s 4A meet before his school moved down a classification, entered as the top seed in the 3A competition. He was in first place through the preliminaries and was just 2.5 points off the lead through the semifinals, but simply ran out of energy.
“He was diving deathly sick this whole weekend,” Snohomish/Glacier Peak diving coach Marc Hughes said. “I had to get doctor’s permission for him to even dive. Watching him (Friday), he was turning whiter as he moved through the meet. He had enough energy through his first five dives, but then his energy levels really started to drift off.
“For what he was going through this weekend, it was a good finish for him,” Hughes said.
Glacier Peak senior Connor May, the defending 3A state champion, competed at the 4A level Saturday after his school moved up a classification this year. May finished with 407.85 points to earn third place in a tough field that included state champion Jason Gleason of South Kitsap, whose performance Hughes described as “lights out.”
“Overall, I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Hughes said of Thomas and May. “They worked hard, they performed well this year, they did great. I’m sure they both would’ve liked to be standing under that (number) one, but two third-place finishes … that’s still a really good finish for them.”
Thunderbirds place fourth in 3A
Shorewood senior Andrew Butcher was on the verge of a 3A state title, holding a 0.53-second lead midway through the 100 freestyle.
But Bainbridge freshman Jude Wenker closed with a strong kick and out-touched Butcher at the wall by 0.02 seconds, leaving the Shorewood standout to finish in second place with a time of 46.98 seconds. Butcher also placed third in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21.36 seconds.
Shorewood junior Anders Stenfjord joined Butcher with a pair of podium finishes, taking second place in the 200 freestyle (1:43.43) and fifth in the 500 freestyle (4:45.08).
Butcher and Stenfjord teamed with senior Chris Gerbino and freshman Cole Nouwens for second place in the 200 freestyle relay (1:27.36) and third place in the 400 freestyle relay (3:12.74).
Shorewood placed fourth in the 3A team standings with 144 points. Bainbridge won the team title with 369 points.
Meadowdale senior Kyle Weis took third place in the 100 backstroke (52.07) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (51.47), leading the Mavericks to an 11th-place team finish with 84 points.
The Meadowdale team of Weis, senior Jack Busby, senior Casey Barnett and Andreas Quist placed seventh in the 200 medley relay (1:41.57) and eighth in the 400 freestyle relay (3:20.2).
Four more than enough for Wildcats
Archbishop Murphy only took four swimmers to the state meet, but that was more than enough to produce a strong showing.
The Wildcats earned seven podium finishes and placed sixth in the 2A team standings with 143 points. Kingston won the team title with 225 points.
“They performed extremely well to get sixth,” Archbishop Murphy coach Erin Edmondson said. “For how small we are, I can’t say that it wasn’t a great meet for these guys. So we’re very happy with the outcome.”
Murphy juniors Ryan Price and William Walters each earned a pair of podium finishes to lead the Wildcats. Price took second place in the 200 IM (1:57.21) and seventh in the 100 butterfly (53.24). Walters placed fourth in the 200 IM (2:00.95) and fifth in the 100 backstroke (53.98).
The Murphy team of Price, Walters, senior Tony Mikhail and senior Robert DeMello edged Steilacoom for third place in the 200 medley relay (1:40.77) and placed fifth in the 400 freestyle relay (3:23.11). Mikhail added a sixth-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:48.88).