SNOHOMISH — It’s been quite a journey for the seniors on the Lake Stevens High School boys swim and dive team.
Practicing in what their coach described as a “plywood construction zone” as freshmen. Traveling some 1,500 miles on a bus as sophomores. All the challenges and uncertainties of last spring’s abbreviated season.
Then finally some normalcy this winter — including the first home meets of their careers.
“This group of seniors has been through a lot,” Lake Stevens coach Brady Dykgraaf said.
And on Thursday afternoon, they capped their final regular season together in style.
The Vikings captured their seventh consecutive Wesco North title and completed a perfect dual-meet season, beating Glacier Peak 104-81 and Snohomish 131-48 in a three-team event at Snohomish Aquatic Center.
With the pair of victories, Lake Stevens (9-0, 9-0 Wesco North) extended its Wesco North dual-meet win streak to 66.
“Just great kids, man,” Dykgraaf said. “… Holy cow. Nothing but good things to say about all of them. I’m blessed.”
For the Vikings’ senior class, their first two years were significantly impacted by the renovation of their on-campus pool.
As freshmen, they practiced in their pool as it was being renovated. Dykgraaf remembers one swimmer saying, “Our pool tastes like Home Depot.”
As sophomores, they practiced at Explorer Middle School in south Everett. It equated to a nearly 35-mile round-trip bus commute every afternoon.
“You have a bus of 50 guys traveling literally an hour-and-a-half (combined) to swim,” Dykgraaf said. “That’s crazy, right? That’s dedication.”
As juniors, their season was delayed and eventually condensed into an abbreviated spring campaign because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to coronavirus restrictions, they had to split into two separate practice groups and once again didn’t have any home meets.
As seniors this winter, they finally got to swim in the first home meets of their high school careers.
“To be finally be doing home meets, it was just a blast,” Lake Stevens standout senior diver Jaden Cardona said. “The whole season (has been) a blast just to have a normal season finally.”
But as the pandemic continues, many things aren’t back to normal just yet. That was evident Thursday for the Vikings, who were without six athletes due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Our team looked at each other and said, ‘OK, let’s go win anyway,’” Dykgraaf said. “Let’s go do our job and go race.
“We (had) kids stepping up. … We have a group of kids that have been through a lot and they can trust each other, and that shows in that pool. It’s pretty cool.”
Cardona had another exceptional performance in the diving portion of the meet, cruising to victory with 322.70 points.
The University of South Dakota signee is a two-time placer at the Class 4A state meet, with an 11th-place finish as a freshman and a fifth-place medal as a sophomore. He didn’t get a chance to add to his state resume last year, due to the state meet being canceled because of the pandemic.
“He’s gonna be diving D-I, which couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Dykgraaf said. “… I’m just super excited about him and what he’s doing.”
Lake Stevens senior DJ Trout won the 100-yard freestyle in 51.37 seconds and anchored a pair of winning relay teams. Dykgraaf said Trout has steadily progressed since joining the program as a brand-new swimmer three years ago.
“That’s just growth,” Dykgraaf said. “That’s what high school sports are about.”
Lake Stevens junior Garrett Chesley and freshman Camden Blevins-Mohr each won a pair of individual races for the Vikings.
Chesley raced to victory in the 200 freestyle (1:52.31) and 500 freestyle (5:01.17). Blevins-Mohr picked up wins in the 200 individual medley (2:11.73) and 100 butterfly (57.15).
Chesley, Blevins-Mohr, junior Laird Marlatt and Trout cruised to victory for Lake Stevens in the 400 freestyle relay (3:27.85). Chesley, sophomore Connor Weldon, Blevins-Mohr and Trout took first place in the 200 medley relay (1:44.23).
“I’m lucky enough to be on such a deep and strong team and to be a part of something that’s really cool like this team,” Trout said. “… I love it so much. It’s such an honor.”
Glacier Peak (7-1, 7-1) was led by sophomore Kaiu Taylor, who won the 50 freestyle (22.62) and 100 backstroke (55.69). Keegan Lisenby, a senior, added a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.90) for the Grizzlies.
The lone victory for Snohomish (5-3, 5-3) came in the 200 freestyle relay. Senior Dylan Schwartzmiller teamed with the freshman trio of Connor Colloton, Levi Beck and Torsten Hokanson to take first place in the event (1:40.43).
“I think we did pretty well,” said Ron Belleza, who coaches both the Glacier Peak and Snohomish teams. “We got a few personal-best times.
“Right now, we’re ending our big cycle of heavy training,” he added. “We were swimming extremely tired today. The boys have been working pretty hard. So we’re hoping we can hit our taper just right and look for fast times coming in at districts.”
All three teams now turn their attention to the district championships. The 4A District 1 finals and 3A District 1 finals are both scheduled for Feb. 12 at Snohomish Aquatic Center.
Dykgraaf said the 4A district meet could be particularly competitive this year, with Lake Stevens and Glacier Peak competing alongside Wesco South powers Jackson and Kamiak.
“There might be four top-16 schools in the entire state in that meet,” Dykgraaf said. “… That will be a hotshot meet and I’m excited to see what these kids do.”
This story will be updated with video highlights