MUKILTEO — Edmonds-Woodway junior Tony Dennis had to do it all by himself.
With his closest competitor more than 15 seconds behind him, Dennis found himself all alone as he headed for the finish of the 500-yard freestyle at last weekend’s Western Conference 4A South Division boys swimming sectionals at Kamiak High School.
Dennis clocked in with a personal-best and state-qualifying time of 4:45.04, which brought a smile to Warriors coach Matt Delaney.
“We had Tony with his best 500 freestyle ever since I’ve been coaching him in three years,” said Delaney. “That’s the best race I’ve seen him swim and swimming it alone was even more impressive.”
Dennis also took first place in the 200 freestyle with a state-qualifying time of 1:49.05, but his focus at this week’s Class 4A state championships is on the 500 freestyle.
“I was hoping for a faster 500 time, but I still dropped time so it was a really good race,” Dennis said. “I just really want to make it into the (500) finals.”
Two years ago Dennis didn’t advance to the finals but he made it to the consolation finals last season.
“I really want to make it into the finals and just see what it’s like,” Dennis said.
Dennis also swam a leg on Edmonds-Woodway’s second-place 200 freestyle relay team, along with Sean Maden, Eric Christie and Bryant Shiu.
“Our relays did really good,” Dennis said. “We didn’t win the 200 freestyle relay. We thought we had a chance to, but we dropped six seconds this week overall in that relay, which is huge.
“It’s been a really good meet for everyone today.”
Delaney echoed Dennis’ sentiments, noting that Christie advanced to the finals of the 50 freestyle and had two fast legs on the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay races.
Maden advanced to the 100 butterfly finals, where he placed third and was within 5/100 of a second of the state standard. Shiu was about a second off a state time in the 100 breaststroke finals. Both Maden and Shiu are freshmen and have promising futures, Delaney said.
“It was a tremendously positive meet,” he added.
Mountlake Terrace’s Austin Lindsey took second in diving, scoring 271.2 points to Shorewood’s Spencer Mestel, who tallied 293.2.
Event winners, all swimmers who posted state-qualifying times and second-place finishers whose times were better than those of their counterparts at the Wesco North sectional meet received berths to state.
Shorewood won its second team championship in three seasons with a score of 316. Jackson (261) finished second and was followed by Kamiak (239), Everett (141), Edmonds-Woodway (141), Mariner (99) and Mountlake Terrace (56).
The preliminaries for the Class 4A state championships start at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Friday, Feb. 20) at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. The finals are scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.