By Ron Newberry
Special to the Seattle Times
Newport boys looking to follow in girls’ team’s path
After his Newport girls swim team won the Class 4A state title, Eric Bartleson didn’t have much time to reflect before diving into a new pursuit.
“One day,” he said with a smile.
(Newport swim coach Eric Bartleson)
Bartleson’s Knights won the title on a Saturday night last November and by Monday afternoon he was already pool side for Newport’s first boys swim practice of the winter season.
“There’s not a whole lot of time to sit there (and reflect),” he said. “The seasons just go back-to-back. Monday, I’m busy starting the boys season and getting them all organized. Thursday was the girls banquet. A week and a half later, the boys are doing meets.”
Flash forward two months and the Newport boys team is rolling along rather swimmingly.
Newport defeated Issaquah Tuesday night at Mary Wayte Pool in Mercer Island, 96-87, to move in position to earn the No. 1 seed out of the 4A KingCo Crest Division. The Knights, unbeaten in 4A dual meets, can do that with a victory over Skyline Friday.
“The main goal is to win state,” Newport freshman Will Dittig said. “That’s what we’re going for. We have a pretty good team. I think we have a pretty good shot. If the girls and the boys both do it, I would be pretty impressed with that, and it would be good for the school.”
Dittig and Aaron Elhajj are freshmen who’ve made an impact this season for the Knights, who finished fourth at the state meet last season. Both combined to win three individual events in the victory over Issaquah as Elhajj won the 50-yard freestyle (23.07) and 100 freestyle (50.76) and Dittig took the 100 backstroke (56.93).
Elhajj and Dittig also combined with sophomore Andrew Pana and senior Ben Allen on the 400 freestyle relay (3:24.16) that edged Issaquah (3:24.43) and secured the Knights’ victory.
Allen, a four-time state participant, also won the 500 freestyle to help the Knights avenge a one-point dual meet loss to Issaquah last season.
Issaquah also edged Newport by 1.5 points to win the Sea-King District title and wound up finishing second at the state meet.
“I think there’s been a lot of motivation,” Allen said. “Especialy since for a lot of us, it’s our senior year. We want to keep the tradition and keep it going and see if we can win state like the girls did.”
Issaquah coach Laura Halter said the Eagles came out a “teeny bit flat,” Tuesday night, partly because some swimmers were coming off illnesses. And she said the 8:30 p.m. meet start didn’t help.
Newport generally practices in the evenings.
“Swimming at 8:30 at night’s pretty tough,” Halter said. “We don’t ever do that. We do it once a year — tonight. I think they have a teeny bit of advantage because they’re actually used to racing at night.
“My kids are used to being in bed by now.”
“It’s what it is with the limited amount of pool space,” Bartleson said. “All four of the Bellevue schools have to share this pool along with Mercer Island for pool time. We try to balance it out so there’s only a couple of night meets for each of the Bellevue teams with the way we’ve got the season set up so it hasn’t been too bad. This is only the second late night meet.”
Kamiak still cruising
Kamiak won three more dual meets last week and two more this week to improve to 14-0 on the season and extend its dual meet win streak to 76.
The Knights finish their Wesco schedule with a home meet against Cascade Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
A look at top performers from the past week:
– Abrahm Devine, Lakeside: Was part of four winning events, including the 200 IM in a state-qualifying 2:00.97, in the Lions’ victory over O’Dea.
– Spencer Alpaugh, Bainbridge: Won the 200 Individual Medley (1:59.87) and was part of three winning relays in a victory over Seattle Prep.
– Shelby Lee, Kamiak: Qualified for the state meet in the 200 IM (2:03.75) in a victory over Mariner.