Fang gets her times as Newport works toward three-peat
By Doug Drowley
Special to The Seattle Times
As early as it feels, approaching just the second weekend of October, girls swim teams across the state look up and find themselves just three or four weeks (depending on classification) away from the start of the post-season sprint to King County Aquatic Center in mid-November.
The state meets take place on Nov. 14 and 15 in Federal Way.
In 4A, the Newport Knights will attempt to win their third consecutive big school team title. They do so in a year that really has more unknowns than in recent memory. So many of the individual state titlists from a year ago are gone.
“A lot of big names graduated last year,” Newport coach Eric Bartleson said. “This will be a very different year. We’ll see. It’s time for the next group to step up.”
While the Knights lost a strong senior group from its second consecutive championship team, Newport still boasts a throng of solid returners in Maddie Rainey, Jenny Huo, Elisa Fang and others. And there will be some newcomers to add to the mix such as freshman Madeline Chin, who finished third in the 200-yard individual medley to teammates Fang and Kiera Watson in Newport’s dual meet victory over Interlake on Tuesday.
“The kids are working through the meets,” Bartleson continued. “They’re training pretty hard right now. Swimming pretty tired right now.”
The tough workouts didn’t keep Fang from achieving one of her goals on Tuesday. Fang swam under the state qualifying cuts in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke.
A year ago at state, the 200 IM was dominated by some of those big senior names – Lisa Bratton of Richland, Carolyn McCann of Gig Harbor, and Megan Kawaguchi of Mt. Rainier. It was Huo, another Newport junior, that finished fourth in the event.
Tuesday, Fang went 2:12.97, under the qualifying time of 2:14.5. She also went 1:00.35 in the back, to qualify under the 1:01.3 standard. Fang was fourth behind Bratton’s automatic all-America winning time of 54.04 seconds a year ago.
“It’s crazy how fast it comes,” Fang said.
Whether or not Newport wins the title again is anyone’s guess. But this team isn’t feeling any pressure.
“I think it’s excitement, hope,” Fang said. “There is a chance we could win it again. But honestly, I have no idea how it is going to be at state this year.”
Bartleson isn’t sure, either. But …
“They’re experienced,” he said of his girls. “There’s kind of an expectation at Newport. We might not be first every year, but we always want to be in the Top 10 at the state meet. We’ve got a lot of girls working hard. The goal is to see if we can get some of those junior and seniors (who aren’t year-round swimmers) to get there, too.”
Newport’s streak could start to rival the best in the school’s history if it happens. The Knights were champs six years in a row, from 1978 to 1984.
So there is a tradition to uphold – pressure or not.