FEDERAL WAY — Olympic senior Haakon Meyer refused to let go of the large traveling trophy he and his fellow Trojans had worked so hard to win, politely refusing every opportunity to set the trophy down.
The small but immensely talented team of six lifted the Trojans to all new territory on Saturday at the 2A state boys swimming and diving championships.
The Trojans’ brothers’ Haakon, Dietrich and Rainer Meyer, Ross and Ryan Burchell and
Olympic and Kingston combined to win a total of nine of 12 events, including six individual championships.
It’s the fifth boys team title for a Kitsap county team in the last three years. Kingston won the 2A meet in 2017 and Bainbridge has won three straight 3A championships (2017-19).
The Trojans were determined to improve on their fourth-place finish from last season knowing they had the talent and inward drive to win it all, said senior Haakon Meyer.
“Last year we said that we were going to take it,” he said. “Our swims were good but they weren’t what we needed. And this year we just brought it.”
“This is awesome,” said Dietrich Meyer, who successfully defended his 50 and 100 freestyle titles. “We just had a few extra swims that put us over the edge. Everyone did their best and everyone did amazing.”
Olympic coach Paul Henderson, who won the Washington Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Coach of the Year honor for a second time, admitted he didn’t have to do a whole lot as the Trojans were fully committed to winning a state championship.
“These guys are everything,” he said. “Six guys just won state. You can’t do it with any less. These guys are such a family. They just make each other better all the way around. It’s just been a blessing.”
Henderson played it cagey and just told his swimmers they were doing well, but the Trojans were checking the score constantly and knew exactly what they had to do.
“There’s some good swimmers on our side of the water,” he said. “It’s been a good time. Every meet’s a great competition. It’s been awesome.”
Tim Gallagher of Kingston ended his high school career with wins in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke and was named the WISCA Swimmer of the Meet.
The University of Hawaii-bound senior won his third backstroke title lowering his own state meet record to 48.79. Rainer Meyer finished sixth. The 200 title in 1:40.13 was Gallagher’s first in that event.
“I’m happy. The sadness hasn’t hit yet,” Gallagher said of his final high school meet.
On a personal level, Gallagher hit his goal in the backstroke of lowering his own meet record and came close to going a sub-1:40 in the 200 free. Bremerton Olympic champion Nathan Adrian still holds the all-time state record of 1:37.17. Gallagher also had a split of 45.04 in the 400 free relay, which was faster than the state-winning time by Dietrich Meyer.
“I wanted to go sub-49 (seconds) in the 100 back so I was really happy about that one,” he said.
Gallagher was an integral part of the Buccaneers becoming a state threat the last three years. The Buccaneers finished third for the second year in a row. They won the state title, the school’s first, two years ago and was thrilled to see the Trojans bring the trophy back to Kitsap.
“I’m so happy for them,” he said. “I know what it feels like and I’ve been with all those guys for my entire swim career so to see them be able to (win) is super special for us.”
Kingston coach Mark Van Huis said the seniors, including Gallagher, Fox and Markow, will be sorely missed as they all left an undeniable mark on the Buccaneers swim program.
“We’re absolutely going to miss them and I think they’re going to miss us but I think they’re ready to move on to the next stage,” he said. “I’m happy to send them off with a third-place finish. I think that third place means just as much to them as the state title.”
The Buccaneers started the meet by winning the 200 medley relay, which included Gallagher, Aron Markow, Rocco Velie and Ethan Fox, in 1:34.30. It was their third title overall. Olympic placed third and Klahowya finished sixth.
With Gallagher claiming the win in the 200 free (North Kitsap’s Nathan Ramey was fourth and Olympic’s Ryan Burchell fifth), Ethan Fox and Haakon Meyer battled for supremacy in the 200 individual medley.
Fox and Meyer stayed neck-and-neck until the breaststroke leg where Fox pulled ahead and built his lead in the freestyle to win in 1:54.28. Meyer finished in 1:58.05. Fox, who will swim at Colorado Mesa next year, also won the event in 2017 before Gallagher won it last year.
“He’s a powerful guy,” Fox said of Haakon Meyer. “He’s a big guy. But I know I train a lot of breaststroke and so my breaststroke is strong. I train the 400 IM, that’s my favorite event. I know I can get through the breaststroke and just bring it home in the freestyle. I keep that mindset throughout and I did it the last three years.”
Dietrich Meyer’s sweep in the sprint freestyles was huge given that the Trojans were still battling it out with Kingston for the team lead. Meyer out-touched his competition in the 50 by .25 seconds, winning in 21.49 to 21.65 by runner-up Korbin Vera of Bellevue. Kingston’s Markow finished third, Olympic’s Shelton was fourth and North Kitsap’s Brandon Anderson was fifth.
The 100 freestyle featured a brother matchup between Dietrich and Haakon Meyer. It was Dietrich, a sophomore, who beat older brother Haakon to earn the Meyer-household bragging rights in a meet record 46.42 to Haakon’s 47.37.
Oly’s Ross Burchell placed fifth in the 100 butterfly while Klahowya’s Connor Swaney was seventh. Ryan Burchell was second in the 500 freestyle, coming in behind Warren Briggs of Liberty in 4:36.52. Kingston’s Velie was fifth.
In one of the more dramatic races of the meet, Markow and North’s Nathan Ramey, the top seed heading into the event, raced for the top of the podium in the 100 breaststroke. Markow had the state’s top time for most of the season until Ramey passed him to take the best time out of Friday’s prelims.
Markow, who will swim at the University of Wyoming next year, pulled ahead in the final few yards but Ramey, a University of Utah signee, quickly matched him as the two raced for the wall in a dead heat. Markow out-touched him 57.06 to 57.40 as they both simultaneously turned to look at the scoreboard behind them. Fox was third.
“I was just really angry about prelims,” Markow remarked. “I knew I had to try as hard as I can and I literally went as hard as I could to try and win. It was definitely painful. I couldn’t even feel my arms after. I could barely climb out (of the pool) my arms were shaking.”
Olympic also won the 200 and 400 free relays. The foursome of Haakon, Rainer, Shelton and Dietrich Meyer finished in a meet record 1:26.64 in the 200. North Kitsap placed sixth and Kingston eighth. Klahowya won the consolation final to finish ninth overall. In the 400, Haakon and Dietrich paired with the Burchell’s to finish in a meet record 3:10.88. Kingston was second in 3:12.62, also a meet record while North Kitsap’s Anderson Isaac Beers, Ramey and James Correll were sixth.
Kitsap swimmers shined throughout the meet as they placed 33 individuals and relays into the top-eight finals. Fox said the competition level drove each swimmer to push themselves at all times and every Olympic League meet felt like a state final.
“I swam with these kids when I was eight, nine, 10, and it’s unbelievable to see them now,” he said.
Olympic’s two other state titles came in boys basketball, 1982-83, and baseball, 1983-84.
NOTE: This story includes an update to correct an error that listed Aron Markow swimming at Colorado Mesa and not Wyoming. It has been changed.