The State Swimming Meet takes place in Great Falls this Friday and Saturday, and although none of the local teams are considered among the favorites, there are four local girls that should place high in their races.
At the recent 17-team Bohn-Moerer Meet, Missoula Hellgate swept both the boys and girls championships, and the Knights are the prohibitive favorites to duplicate the feat at State.
Bozeman and C.M. Russell placed second and third in the girls division, while Helena High was seventh and Capital finished eighth. On the boys' side, Bozeman and CMR again were 2-3, with HHS placing 11th and Capital coming in 17th.
The Helena and Capital teams are under the direction of second-year coach Julie Youngblood, who guides both schools’ swimmers.
The quartet of Helena’s Kate Murphy, Katie Summers and Jesse Ecklund, and Capital’s Avree Klungland, are among the brightest hopes for the local contingent.
Ecklund, a sophomore, is the reigning State AA champion in the 500 freestyle, and placed fourth in the 100 backstroke last year. She’s back to defend her title in the 500 free, and will also swim the 200 free this weekend.
She placed second in the 200 and third in the 500 frees at the Bohn-Moerer.
Murphy, a senior, garnered a pair of top-four placings at the 2015 meet, and heads to the Electric City with eight career all-state medals -- in five individual events and three relays. At the Bohn-Moerer last week, she was fourth in the 500 free and fifth in the 100 free.
She will be competing in the 100 free and 100 backstroke this weekend. Two weeks ago, Murphy swept both races in a dual meet versus Billings Skyview.
At last year’s State meet, Klungland collected two top-three medals. The Lady Bruin junior took second in the 200 IM and third in the 100 free at the recent Bohn-Moerer, and will be racing in the same races this weekend.
Summers turned in the lone individual victory for local swimmers at the latest Bohn-Moerer, capturing in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.54. The Lady Bengal senior placed fifth in the 100 butterfly, as well. She will swim in those same two events at State.
All four athletes will be members of their respective team’s 200 and 400 freestyle relays in Great Falls, as well.
The local teams have been handicapped by the loss of their practice and meet facility this season, when the Carroll P.E. Center’s pool was demolished last summer.
“We’ve been training at the YMCA, and we only get about half the workout time as we’ve had in the past,” Murphy related.
Other local placers at the recent Bohn-Moerer, were Helena’s Nick Angeli, fifth in the 100 fly; Capital’s Jessica Adams, fifth in the 50 free; and the CHS girls 200 medley relay in sixth.
Angeli, a senior, owns six career State medals, three individuals and three relays.