MILL CREEK — The Kamiak boys swim and dive team left no doubt.
Once again, the Knights are kings of the Wesco South.
With an impressive collection of top-end talent and considerable depth, Kamiak rolled to its second consecutive Wesco South crown with a 107-63 win over rival Jackson in a showdown of unbeaten local powerhouses Thursday afternoon at WEST Coast Aquatics.
“Kamiak is an exceptionally deep and really talented team,” Jackson coach Drew Whorley said. “They can do a lot of different things and probably (will) turn out to be one of the best teams in the state when it’s all said and done.”
This marked the fifth consecutive season that the always-anticipated showdown between Kamiak and Jackson has decided the Wesco South title. After three straight league championships by the Timberwolves from 2015 to 2017, the Knights have won the past two Wesco South titles with decisive victories over Jackson.
Both teams entered this year’s clash with unblemished dual-meet records and massive average margins of victory, but Kamiak’s talent and depth made Thursday’s regular-season finale a runaway contest.
The Knights (12-0 overall, 9-0 Wesco South) swept all three relay races and won five of the eight individual events. Five different Kamiak swimmers won individual races, and the Knights’ winning relay squads featured a total of eight different swimmers.
“Today, (we) swam against a team that’s better than we are right now,” Whorley said.
KAMIAK INDIVIDUAL WINNERS
One of the day’s most notable performances belonged to Kamiak junior Maxwell Fang, who won the 100-yard freestyle with a blistering time of 47.74 seconds.
Fang’s time Thursday would’ve ranked sixth in last year’s Class 4A state meet, which is particularly impressive given there are still three weeks of training and tapering for him to potentially improve on that time for the Feb. 15-16 state championships. Last season, Fang earned a third-place state medal in the 200 freestyle.
Kamiak sophomore Slava Gilszmer, an eighth-place state medalist in the 500 freestyle last season, cruised to victory in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 49.09 seconds.
Kamiak junior Brian Park, who placed 14th in the 50 freestyle at last year’s state meet, won the same event Thursday with a time of 22.64 seconds.
Other individual winners for the Knights were sophomore Michael Viray and senior Jonathan Ke. Viray won the meet’s longest race in tight fashion, edging teammate Oliver Holod by 0.29 seconds for a victory in the 500 freestyle. Ke won the 100 butterfly.
KNIGHTS SWEEP THE RELAYS
Strong relay performances were key to Kamiak’s runner-up finish in the team standings of last year’s state meet, with the Knights earning state medals in all three relay races.
After returning the bulk of its relay talent from last season, Kamiak flexed its muscles in the relays Thursday with victories in all three races.
The team of Vlad Gilszmer, Edward Whalen, Alex Kirby and Slava Gilszmer beat another Knights squad by 0.39 seconds to win the 200 freestyle relay. Both Kamiak teams finished more than seven seconds ahead of the closest Jackson squad in that race.
The Knights also were victorious in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, beating Justin Limberg-led Jackson teams by more than two seconds in both races.
Vlad Gilszmer, Slava Gilszmer, Fang and Whalen each contributed to a pair of relay victories for Kamiak.
LIMBERG STARS FOR JACKSON
Limberg, ranked by CollegeSwimming.com as the 11th-overall junior recruit in the state, showcased his elite talent with dominant victories in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
Limberg, who claimed a fourth-place state medal in the 100 breaststroke last year, cruised to victory in the same event Thursday with a time of 59.68 seconds. The junior standout won the 200 IM in 2:00.34, finishing nearly eight seconds ahead of the next-closest swimmer.
Limberg also competed in a pair of relay races for the Timberwolves (9-1, 8-1), but not even the four-time top-10 individual state finisher’s brilliance was enough to overcome Kamiak’s deep array of relay talent.
“He swims with a lot of heart,” Whorley said. “He carries a lot of school pride, he’s a great leader for all of our kids and everybody kind of rallies around him and has a lot of respect for what he does. … He’s one of those swimmers that it’s fun to get to the end of the season and see what they’re capable of doing when they get to districts and state.”