FEDERAL WAY — Jackson swimming phenom Jonathan Cook simply wasn’t going to be denied.
Trailing Lake Stevens sophomore Alejandro Flores down the final stretch of the 100-yard breastroke, the Stanford University-bound Cook surged in front with an incredible closing kick to claim his sixth individual state title and put an exclamation mark on his decorated prep career.
Cook captured Class 4A state titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke for the third consecutive year, compiling yet another memorable performance Saturday at the boys state swimming and diving championships at King County Aquatic Center.
Cook was awarded 4A Swimmer of the Meet honors for the third straight year.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to coach an athlete that has earned all the accolades that have come with him,” Jackson coach Drew Whorley said. “And he’s one of those guys that we know still has his best swimming in front of him.”
Cook trailed Flores by 0.29 seconds midway through the 100 breaststroke and was still behind heading into the final 25 yards. But the Jackson senior summoned a late burst down the final stretch and out-touched Flores by 0.05 seconds for a winning time of 55.12 seconds.
“I pushed off that last (25-yard mark) and just decided I wasn’t going to lose,” Cook said. “I decided that I wanted it and that it was necessary to preserve my pride and legacy.”
Earlier in the day, Cook claimed the 200 individual medley title with a time of 1 minute, 49.15 seconds, finishing almost three seconds ahead of Camas’ Eric Wu.
Practically dead-even with Wu midway through the race, Cook pulled away with a blistering third breaststroke leg that gained more than two seconds of separation. Cook then widened the margin on the freestyle anchor leg and cruised to victory.
Both of Cook’s winning times were automatic All-American qualifying marks, though they weren’t quite as fast as the 4A state-meet records he set in last year’s meet.
“These times today weren’t better than what he was a year ago, but he’s a much better swimmer than he was a year ago,” Whorley said. “And those times are going to come. They just didn’t fall on Feb. 17.
“He gutted out two performances today on a day when he wasn’t feeling his best, so that says a lot about him and his character.”
Cook also almost rallied Jackson to a state title in the 200 freestyle relay.
With the Timberwolves trailing Camas by 0.72 seconds heading into the final 50 yards, Cook sliced the gap with a strong anchor leg but was edged at the wall by 0.1 seconds. Cook, Neal Thai, Justin Limberg and Edward Engel finished in second place with a time of 1:26.63.
“We just ran out of pool,” Whorley said. “If it was the 202-yard freestyle relay, I think we win that one. That was an incredible swim by all the guys.”
Cook also led the Timberwolves to a fifth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay.
Limberg, a sophomore, placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke with an All-American consideration time of 57.14 seconds, helping the Timberwolves to a sixth-place finish in the 4A team standings with 150 points.
Glacier Peak freestyler wins 2 titles
Glacier Peak’s sophomore sensation proved he is king of the freestyle sprint races.
Matthew King won Class 4A state titles in the the 50 and 100 freestyle events to cap his first season of prep swimming.
King, who moved from Colorado two years ago, chose to join Glacier Peak’s team this season after focusing on club swimming as a freshman.
“Looking at the heat sheets and results from last year,” he said, “I was like, ‘Hey, I could do really good at this meet.’”
King sprinted to victory in the 50 freestyle with an automatic All-American qualifying time of 20.54 seconds, winning the race by 0.74 seconds.
Later in the meet, the Glacier Peak standout claimed the 100 freestyle crown with an All-American consideration time of 45.74 seconds, taking first place by 0.41 seconds.
“I was always a backstroker,” King said, “and then at one meet last summer, my freestyle just got really fast. So then I started swimming sprint freestyle.
“One second I was a backstroker, and the next I was a freestyler. I don’t really know what happened, but I think it was a really good thing because I’m doing pretty well.”
King also helped the Grizzlies to a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay.
“He’s really strong (and) he’s got an amazing, natural feel for the water,” Glacier Peak coach Rob Serviss said. “He’s just very, very technically sound and a great swimmer. The sky’s the limit. He can do a lot of special things.”
Kamiak takes 2nd in team standings
Kamiak captured the 4A second-place team trophy with 182 points, earning the program’s highest finish since winning the 2013 state title. It marks the seventh top-three team trophy for the Knights in the past 11 seasons.
Camas won the team title with 232 points.
The Kamiak team of freshman Vlad Gilszmer, senior Walter Limm, sophomore Maxwell Fang and sophomore Brian Park finished the 200 medley relay in an All-American consideration time of 1:35.01, which was 0.41 seconds faster than the previous 4A state-meet record set by Issaquah last year.
Issaquah swam even faster this time, beating the Knights by 0.18 seconds to win the state crown and set a new meet record.
Fang’s speedy butterfly leg gave the Knights a 0.72-second lead entering the final 50 yards, but Issaquah’s Brandon Leu edged Park in a thrilling anchor-leg sprint to drop Kamiak to a second-place medal.
Gilszmer claimed second place in the 500 freestyle (4:38.61) and Limm placed third in the 100 breaststroke with an All-American consideration time (56.93). Fang took third in the 200 freestyle (1:42.19).
Cascade diver finishes 2nd
Cascade junior Joseph Hofman placed second in the 4A diving competition with 412.55 points, finishing 9.8 points behind state champion Rafael Rodriguez of Sumner.
Hofman was the leader after each of the first 10 rounds, but the Sumner senior surpassed him in the 11th and final round with a 46.8-point dive.
Hofman took up diving less than two years ago and placed seventh at last year’s state meet before earning another podium finish Saturday in just his second season.
“I had no words after (Rodriguez) did his (final) dive, because it was just amazing,” Hofman said. “I looked up at the scoreboard and the (order of) names switched. It was a little disheartening, but ultimately I think I did my best.”
Other top local finishers
Lake Stevens senior Carter Walles claimed a pair of top-five medals in the 4A meet, placing third in the 100 backstroke (52.63) and fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:44.27).
Shorewood sophomore Isaac Poole took second place in the 3A diving competition with 371.05 points.
Archbishop Murphy senior Ryan Price placed third in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:52.84.