Brianna Hoffman repeated as the 200 freestyle champion while the Vikings finished fourth at the 2A state meet Saturday

FEDERAL WAY — North Kitsap junior Brianna Hoffman wasn’t the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle, the event she won last year, but Hoffman showed that given a chance a champion can find a way to win.

Hoffman came on strong in the back half of the middle-distance race at the 2A girls state swimming and diving championships to repeat as the 200 champ Saturday at the King County Aquatics Center.

North Kitsap’s Brianna Hoffman swims in the 200-yard freestyle Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, during the 2A girls state swimming and diving championships at KCAC in Federal Way. Hoffman defended her championship in 1:57.78. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

“I was so surprised,” Hoffman said of the win, adding she was exceedingly nervous during Friday’s prelims and it showed with a fourth seeded time of 2:00.25. “I was swimming and then I was like, oh shoot I can win this.”

Pullman’s Mya Reed went out fast and was nearly a full second ahead of Hoffman at the 100-yard split. 

“… I thought, oh, it’s over,” Hoffman said.

But Reed started to slow down and Hoffman increased her speed as she caught glimpses of Reed from two lanes away. Hoffman chewed up the yardage after the final turn and was stroke for stroke with Reed in the final stretch. Hoffman’s final surge was enough as the junior touched the wall in 1:57.78 to Reed’s 1:58.30.

“I started coming back and thought ‘this isn’t happening,’” she said. “I touched the wall and ‘oh my gosh it happened!’ It’s crazy. I still can’t believe it.”

It wasn’t just Hoffman’s win or her seventh-place finish in the 500 free that culminated to a fourth-place trophy for the Vikings. North’s 200 freestyle relay placed second, sophomore Ava Harris was fourth in the 100 butterfly, the Vikings placed fifth in the 400 free relay and eighth in the 200 medley all led to another trophy. North finished with 159 points behind state champion Liberty of Renton (268 points). NK beat Liberty last season to win its first state championship.

“We wanted top five and we did that,” said NK coach Greg Braun. “That was awesome. It was tough to get going in the beginning of the year because we lost a lot of last year’s championship team. They swam fast today.”

Hoffman said the Vikings went into the meet not really knowing if they could retain their title. Instead, they focused on their swims and let the rest take care of itself.

North Kitsap swimmers cheer on Genevieve Nolet in the 200-yard individual medley Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, during the 2A girls state swimming and diving championships at KCAC in Federal Way. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

“We’re just going to swim and whatever happens, happens,” she said.

Hoffman’s troublesome back issues were manageable during the meet. Hoffman has been swimming with a herniated disc since January. A small car accident in May set her backward in terms of endurance in the pool and Hoffman admitted she wasn’t feeling strong. 

“I was really tired,” she said.

The Vikings 200 freestyle relay team of Ava Harris, Zoe Cera, Layna Hart and Hoffman finished second in 1:42.68 — edged out at the touch by Liberty in 1:41.59 in a battle to the wall. The good news for North is that all four swimmers were juniors and sophomores and will return next season. Bremerton’s 200 free relay also finished in 16th place. 

Senior Dani Bodlorick of Bremerton was happy to place fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.51.

Bremerton’s Dani Bodlorick swims the breaststroke leg of the 200-yard medley relay Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, during the 2A girls state swimming and diving championships at KCAC in Federal Way. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

“That felt great to be on the podium for the first time,” she said. “I told my dad last year I would make it.”

Bodlorick was seeded ninth heading into the meet but a strong performance in the preliminaries to put her into the final eight despite battling illness over the weekend. It was a big confidence booster for the senior, who swims for the Bremerton YMCA.

“Before districts I didn’t think I was going to make a state time,” Bodlorick said, adding her district time was the game changer. “I’m a really competitive person so I think having people next to me that are either faster than me or just as fast as me really helps me a lot.”

Klahowya’s Liz Helmer, a senior, finished on the podium in the 100 butterfly. Helmer earned an eighth-place medal in a time of 1:05.81. Klahowya finished 23rd in the team standings. Bremerton finished 18th overall. Olympic freshman Sascha Winterowd finished 13th in the 200 freestyle and 15th in the 500 free.

Klahowya’s Liz Helmer swims in the 100-yard butterfly Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, during the 2A girls state swimming and diving championships at KCAC in Federal Way. Helmer placed eighth. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

Bremerton's Dani Bodlorick swims the breaststroke leg of the 200-yard medley relay Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, during the 2A girls state swimming and diving championships at KCAC in Federal Way. (Annette Griffus/West Sound SportsPlus)

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