By Doug Drowley | Special to The Seattle Times
Panthers poised for state run
Issaquah swim coach Laura Halter knows the queasiness in her stomach will be there come this weekend.
The churning will have nothing to do with the illness that devastated most her of team almost two weeks ago. The Panthers have mostly recovered as the post-season begins with the Kingco Conference meet at the University of Washington on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s great fun to think about State,” Halter said. “But frankly, it makes me sick to my stomach. I get real bad butterflies for the boys with competition.”
It was the same way for the 20-plus years Halter competed in triathlons. Mentally, she was calm.
“Inside, I was a mess,” Halter said.
The next few weeks, then, could wreak havoc with the coach.
Her squad, it appears, is poised to make a run at the 4A state team title when the state meet begins in three weekends – February 21 and 22 – at the King County Aquatic Center.
First, of course, there is the Kingco meet this weekend, and Sea-King Districts Feb. 14 and 15.
At both of those meets, Issaquah will see another of the 4A state favorites – Newport. The Panthers have 23 swimmers qualified in events for Kingcos, and already more than 15 set for districts.
“Our focus this weekend will be on those boys we are trying to get qualified,” Halter said. “I call Kingco weekend information-gathering weekend.”
Two swimmers Halter doesn’t have to be concerned with share the same surname. Ben and Keith Nussbaum are senior twins.
Nussbaum, a breaststroker and individual medalists, swam the 100 back a year ago after suffering an injury. He will be back to his best events this month, including the 200 medley relay.
“We’ve been talking about state for months now, the times we need to achieve,” Ben Nussbaum said. “We’re a very lucky team that we can create a powerful relay.”
Brother Keith’s journey to state has been more circuitous.
Two years ago, when Issaquah was finishing second overall at state, Keith Nussbaum was only an alternate on relay teams for the team. Today, Keith is finally living his dream and joining brother Ben as a difference maker.
“He hit is steep climb sooner in his career than I did,” Keith Nussbaum said. “After a while, I’ve finally caught up.”
Keith Nussbaum already is state qualified in the 500 freestyle. He is one-tenth of a second off qualifying in the 200 free.
A year ago, Keith was wild-carded into the 200 free state field. He doesn’t intend to need that wildcard this month.
“Being a senior at state is something I’ve dreamed about ever since my first day as a freshman,” Keith Nussbaum said. “It’s unbelievably awesome. It’s something I’ve been working up toward for the last four years.”
Keith knows he will be a part of another relay – the 400 free that serves as the meet finale. Will the state title come down to that event?
“The thing I know about Newport, they have the people to get all three relays into the Top 8,” Halter said. “I don’t know who else can do that.”
Halter points to the last two seasons as an example.
Two years ago, Issaquah’s 400 relay team swam faster than Halter expected it could and finished eighth. That helped the Panthers to that second-place state finish.
“Last year, they were several seconds faster but we finished 12th or 13th,” Halter said. “It’s one of the biggest things you can’t predict. There are all these schools out there, and what relays, so to speak, are they going to go for?”
The answer could decide state.
Time to get postseason party started
Area leagues and districts get the postseason off and running in earnest this weekend. Yes, the Narrows League meet was held last Saturday. But all of those swimmers will join their SPSL, which also had its league meet last weekend, and Seamount counterparts at the 4A and 3A/2A West Central District meets.
The 4A meet will take place Friday and Saturday at Curtis High in Tacoma. The 3A/2A meets happen at Hazen High in Renton the same days.
The Sea-King and District 1 (Wesco) meets are set for Feb. 14 and 15.
Mercer Island wins dual meet championship
Mercer Island earned a championship on Tuesday afternoon at Juanita High School, where the Islanders beat Interlake, 122.5 to 57.5, to claim the Kingco Dual Meet crown. Interlake’s Michael Lorr did break a 26-year-old school record with his 21.64-second swim in the 50 free. Bill McCaffray set the previous mark of 21.8 in 1988.
Who’s going where?
Army – Michael Stanchi, Bellevue
Colorado Mines – Parick Giedeman, Richland
Birmingham Southern – Caleb Riggs, Peninsula
Georgia Tech – Brian Woodbury, Curtis
Harvard – Edward Kim, Eastlake
Minnesota – Chase Bublitz, Kentridge
Tufts – Morgan Ciliv, Bellevue
Utah – Benjamin Scott, Steilacoom
Whitman – Keith Nussbaum, Issaquah
Wisconsin – Todd McCarthy, Bellevue
Boise State – Monica Bottelberghe, Columbia River; Emma Chard, Foss
Bowdoin – Mariah Rawding, White Salmon
Cal Poly SLO – Caitlin Cox, Mercer Island; Sage Speak, Inglemoor
Michigan – Carolyn McCann, Gig Harbor
New Mexico – Morgan Ginnis, Arlington
Northwestern – Anna Keane, Meadowdale
Pomona – Alex Seidel, Mercer Island
Texas A&M – Lisa Bratton, Richland
USC – Hannah Weiss, Mercer Island (did not swim for school)
Utah – Shayla Archer, Bainbridge; Megan Kawaguchi, Mount Rainier
WSU – Hannah Bruggman, Wenatchee
Wheaton College (Ill.) – Kayla Roberson, Inglemoor
Yale – Heidi VanderWel, Monroe
Know a swimmer who has committed to a college? Email Doug Drowley at email@example.com.