Competing in the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships for the first time, Olympia High School seniors Alex Wright and Everett Werner showed they can excel on any stage.
Wright and Werner were club swimmers in their three previous years of high school, and will both continue their careers in college at Atlantic Coast Conference schools, but decided to join the school team their senior year.
So far, the results have been outstanding, and they have a chance to be even better with the finals coming up Saturday.
Wright came into the state meet ranked No. 1 in both the 200- and 500-yeard freestyles. He qualified second and first in the preliminaries of those events on Friday at King County Aquatic Center in Federal way, finishing the 200 in 1:42.17 and the 500 in 4:34.02.
Though he didn’t qualify with the top spot in both events, Wright feels he is in a good position to be successful in the finals.
“Prelims matter only for seeding in finals,” he said. “If you’re top eight, you’re still in the final competing for a state championship.”
Werner will also be in the finals of two events after qualifying third in the 200 individual medley (1:53.79) and fifth in the 100 butterfly (51.38). Both times were high school bests for Werner.
Wright came close to his best times of the season in the prelims, but he and Werner have an even bigger goal for the finals.
“We’re both kind of going for our team records,” Wright said. “My club best times would put me under (the Olympia High School records), but I’ve yet to swim my best races in the high school season. That’s what I’m going after.”
After high school, Wright will continue his swimming career at Virginia Tech as the No. 5 recruit out of Washington for the 2018 class, three spots above No. 8 Werner, who is headed to Duke.
Both swimmers said joining their high school team this year was the right decision, and they expect it will prepare them for the future.
“It’s really fun being here with the team,” Werner said. “It’s kind of getting us ready for what college is going to be like where we’re with a bunch of guys our age.”
Olympia’s 400 free relay also qualified for the finals, finishing seventh in their prelims heat. Wright and Werner combined with Adam Skjervold and Andrew Liu to swim a 3:15.53.
North Thurston’s Jeffrey Harn just missed the finals in the 50 free and 100 free last season as a junior.
This season, the senior will swim in the championship finals for both.
Harn, who was the No. 2 seed in each event entering Friday’s preliminaries, finished fourth or better in each event to qualify for the finals.
He matched his seeding time (21.75) seconds in the 50 free, tying for third alongside Roosevelt’s Cooper Arnett, and is 0.37 seconds off of the leading time set by Bellevue’s Nathan Shao.
Harn finished fourth in the 100 free prelims, swimming a 47.55. Bainbridge’s Jude Wenker (46.27) is the leader entering Saturday’s finals.
River Ridge qualified two relays for Saturday’s finals.
The Hawks’ combination of Christian Provost, William McMullen, Triston Anderson and Cato Cannizzo finished third in the 200 free relay preliminaries at 1:31.73. The same group finished seventh in the 400 free relay at 3:26.49.
Provost, a senior, also qualified for the finals individually in the 50 free, posting a 22.13 to finish seventh in his heat.
Staff writer Lauren Smith contributed to this report.