By BOB MORTENSON
MARYSVILLE – Going in nobody was asking how or who, just by how many.
A lot as it turns out.
Outstanding individual performances and a relay sweep helped the Snohomish Panthers swamp the field and claim the Class 4A Northwest District championship at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Saturday.
The two-time defending state champion Panthers amassed 345.5 points and served notice they are in the hunt for a third straight title.
Shorewood edged Kamiak 154 to 151.5 in a spirited battle for second place. Sehome outlasted Edmonds-Woodway for fourth 140 to 132.
Snohomish started out by posting a time of 1:53.19 to claim the 200-yard medley relay. The Panther contingent included Christine Neely, Katherine Cuevas and Ashley Boxman, all seniors, plus freshman Patricia Thrasher.
The Panthers Erica Chandler, a junior and two-time defending state champion, followed that up by taking the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:51.53.
“I’m really excited about that,” Chandler said. “I haven’t backed off on my training yet, so basically I’m swimming tired.”
Tired or not, Chandler came back to battle defending state champion Kyla Meuer and Chauntelle Johnson, both of Oak Harbor, in an electrifying 100 freestyle race.
Johnson, third at state a year ago, pulled dead even with Chandler in the last 10 yards and they tied in an All-American consideration time of 52.92.
“We’ve been swimming together since we were 10,” Johnson said after embracing Chandler on the victory stand. ” It just doesn’t get any better than tieing for first with a friend.”
Earlier in the meet, Meuer nipped Johnson for first place in the 50 freestyle.
Cascade’s Rachel MacNeill enjoyed dual victories in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. Other top finishers included Snohomish’s Christine Neely (100 backstroke) and Emily Enders (diving), Kamiak’s Ashley Best (100 breaststroke), Edmonds-Woodway’s Sarah Spillman (500 freestyle).
“This is a vastly improved conference,” Snohomish coach John Pringle said. “It was just a really good meet for us.”
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