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Three records fall at State AA swim meet, Helena boys and Bozeman girls win championships
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Three records fall at State AA swim meet, Helena boys and Bozeman girls win championships

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BILLINGS — Records fell Friday as the Class AA swimmers competed at the 2021 state swim meet in Great Falls.

Bozeman Gallatin freshman Julia Huffmaster made a splash when she won her first race, the 200 IM, in 2 minutes, 5.21 seconds and breaking the previous record of 2:05.83 set by Mari Aoki of Missoula Hellgate in 2018. Huffmaster also went on to win the 100 butterfly in 56.79.

Not to be outdone, Helena senior Robert Wagner took down the oldest record on the books, a 1998 mark from Missoula Hellgate’s Charlie Cromwell in the 100 butterfly (prev. 51.45). Wagner won the race in 51.35. Wagner was a dual-event winner, also notching a win in the 50 freestyle in 21.75.

Bozeman freshman Rylee McColley earned her first state championship in record time in the 100 breaststroke. She won in 1:04.16, breaking the oldest girls record of 1:04.48 held by Helena’s Kaitlyn Kleppelid since 2013. McColley was pushed by her crosstown teammate, Gallatin's Danika Varda (1:04.92), but earned the win at the end.

"It was surreal to we were able to end our season with an in-person state meet," Bozeman and Gallatin swim coach Siobhan Gilmartin said after.

Swimmers competed virtually throughout 2021 in one of the adjustments made to allow competition to continue while accommodating COVID-19 protocols.

Kalispell Flathead senior Lily Milner repeated as both the girls 100 freestyle champion in 50.98 and 100 backstroke in 56.58. Bozeman senior Sara Guillen was also a repeat winner in the girls 500 freestyle (5:11.67) in addition to adding a win in the 200 freestyle (1:55.07). 

Missoula Sentinel teammates senior Bremer Deaton and junior Jackson Moe were dual winners as well. Deaton repeated as the boys 100 backstroke champion in 53.69 and was the 200 IM (2:00.23) winner, while Moe won the 200 freestyle (1:43.69) and 100 freestyle (47.39).

Other winners included Missoula Big Sky sophomore Addy Lewis in the girls 50 free (24.32), Great Falls senior Pete Anderson in the boys 500 freestyle (4:51.17) and Helena senior Quade Oser in the boys 100 breaststroke (1:01.92).

The Bozeman girls repeated as state champions with a score of 245. The Hawks got a strong showing especially in the girls 200 freestyle, where led by Guillen, they swept the top-three places on the podium. Junior Annika Mittelsteadt (1:57.28) was second and freshman Sierra Ducharme (1:58.19) third. The Hawks girls also won three relays, two of which Guillen swam.

Great Falls CMR girls were second (152) and Great Falls High was third (133).

In the boys race, Helena High scored 234 points to win. Great Falls High had 221 and Great Falls CMR 158. 

Calling it a hard-earned trophy, Helena coach Julia Shannon knew the Bengals had a strong chance to stand atop the podium, but it wasn't locked up until the final heat of the boys 400 free relay.

"They just swam lights out," Shannon said.

"Trophies are nice, but the kids are the memories." 

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