By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Shane Marshall & Ari Davis
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for the next three weeks, we will release one or two items on our list per day, beginning with No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1. Today, we announce No. 22.
#22 – Swimming Sweeps
There are a lot of ways to win swimming titles, but the 2015 Class 4A and 5A Utah state swimming championships revealed one thing that is certain – individual winners are nice, but overall team depth is even better.
It was that overall talent, top to bottom, of the title-winning teams from Skyline and Viewmont, that stood out at the meet, much more than any overwhelming individual performances. Those belonged to twin sisters Zoe Phillips and Eva Gontrum of Highland, Conner Anderson of Springville, Mitchel Hawley from Woods Cross and Wasatch’s Phebe James in 4A, and Riverton’s Abbey Sorensen, Katie Smith of Lone Peak and Brighton’s Brock Harries, each of whom won a pair of state championships.
Viewmont and Skyline, in the meantime, swept the boys and girls team titles in their respective classifications due to their ability to get multiple swimmers on the podium in many events. Those sweeps are our No. 22 story of the year.
The boys team from Skyline had three notable exceptions as it did see Adam Shelton claim two gold medals (50-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke). Two other Eagles, Cole Jackman (100 breastsroke) and McKay Chamberlain (100 freestyle) were on the top step of the podium.
Viewmont in 5A
On the 5A side, Viewmont teammates McKenna and Mariah Gassaway went 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke to help pace the Viking girls to their team title. Other than that, both Skyline and Viewmont relied heavily on relays and the team concept to carry the day.
Viewmont’s Gassaway sisters teamed with Marah Smith and Sienna Smith to win the 200-yard medley relay, and with Kelly Burnham in place of Marah Smith, the Vikings also captured the 200 freestyle relay. Elsewhere, Viewmont amassed points towards winning the 5A girls title by just three points over Lone Peak with a second-place finish by McKenna Gassaway (with Mariah fourth) in the 50 free, a 3-7-12 finish in the 200 free, a pair of thirds from Marah Smith and a number of other Top 10 results.
The Viking boys won just one state individual event title, Drew Bonner in the 500 freestyle, but there were a number of performances just good enough to allow them to pull away from Lone Peak 337-241 in the overall team tally.
The Viewmont boys 200 medley relay earned second, and its 200 free relay was third. Bonner also gained a second-place result in the 200-yard freestyle, and Viking swimmers also took seventh and eighth in that race.
Led by Zach Sannar, Viewmont went 4-7-9 in the 200 individual medley, and Sannar was fifth in the 100 butterfly, with his teammate Zach Julian two spots ahead of him, in third. Jason Barnett was fifth behind Bonner in the 500, while Andrew Hunt captured third in the 100 backstroke and TJ Spangenburg touched third in the 100 breaststroke.
4A Swept by Skyline
Shelton, Chamberlain and Jackman’s championships were a big lift as the Skyline boys took the 4A title by more than 100 points over second-place Murray, but there were so many other big swims. Chamberlain was also second in the 200 freestyle, and the team of Shelton, Chamberlain, Marc Trevino and DA Steed combined to win the 400-yard freestyle.
The Eagles won a second relay gold, as Chamberlain and Shelton teamed with Trevino and Mathew Beseris to win the 200 freestyle relay. Steed, Beseris, Jackman and Will Newbold joined forces to finish second in the 200 medley relay.
The Skyline girls were all over the leaderboard, but there was just one state title that contribute to their 330-275 team win over Phillips, Gontrum and Highland. That championship went to the Lady Eagles’ 200-yard freestyle relay quartet made up of Claire Brooks, Kate Canova, Bailey Bills and Aleah Griffin.
The Skyline 200 medley relay (Canova, Ali Dibble, Zebelean and Shelby Dibble) and 400 free relay (Griffin, Bills, Ali Dibble and Brooks) both finished second. Brooks secured a pair of individual second-place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and those two races were key to the overall success of the Eagle team, as each featured four Skyline swimmers in the Top 11 finishers.
With that kind of depth, the Eagles were too much for the competition. Ali Dibble, Sarah Fillerup and Kiki Karahelios finished 3-4-5 in the 100 backstroke, providing another example of the kind of depth that was the story of the day in team competition at both the 4A and 5A boys and girls state swimming championships.
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