TACOMA — An undefeated dual-meet season came to an end for the Gig Harbor High boys swimming and diving team on Jan. 15, but the Tides’ loss to the Curtis Vikings may have only been a blessing for what happened two days later.
Gig Harbor went into Stadium’s home pool and knocked off the defending Class 4A state champions, winning six of the 12 events and using superior depth for a 105-81 triumph.
It was the first time Gig Harbor had beaten Stadium since the 2008-09 season, when all of the current seniors were eighth-graders.
It was a moment they’ll cherish for a long time, senior Evan Indahl said.
“Words can’t even describe it,” Indahl said. “I can’t even say anything else other than we deserve it more than anyone.”
Indahl did his part to help the Tides end their drought against the Tigers, winning the 100-yard butterfly in 54.63 seconds and swimming the first leg for the 400 free relay squad, which recorded one of the top 4A times of the season, a first-place mark of 3:22.40.
Gig Harbor hasn’t solidified its lineup for the three relays. Either sophomore Jackson Curtis or junior Kellen Furrer could end up on the blocks at next month’s state championships in Federal Way.
Whoever joins Indahl, junior Erik Nielsen and senior Daniel Arroyo may be part of something special.
“I wouldn’t count us out for a state championship in that relay,” Indahl said. “We can definitely whip it out with the talent that we have.”
Indahl’s day was far from perfect. In the 200 individual medley, he squared off with rival Logan Rysemus for the final time in a dual meet. He never heard the starting horn sound and was the last to leave the blocks, and Rysemus cruised to the win in 1:58.70.
“I think that I could’ve given Logan more of a run for his money had we had a fair start, but at least it made a good memory,” he said, smiling.
“That was just a great way to end my high-school dual-meet career, just that shock and awe. I was like, ‘Did that really just happen?’ ”
Curtis came up with one of the most important swims of the day for the Tides, winning the 200 freestyle in 1:52.89.
“To come from third place to win it was amazing,” Gig Harbor coach Mike Kelly said. “He dropped about 3 seconds there.
“A lot of times we were just swimming for placement. We knew that, when you go against some of the high-quality swimmers that Stadium has, you have to develop a strategy of accepting seconds, thirds and fourths (places). In the end, that’s what really helped us secure the win.”
Nielsen staged his own showdown with Stadium’s Andrew Lackman in the freestyle sprints. Lackman won the 50 free in 22.34, but Nielsen pushed him to the very end.
In the 100 free, Nielsen was victorious in 49.10 and continues to cut fractions of a second off the state standard he met in the season’s first meet.
Kelly also credited Furrer for giving a good effort to the Tides’ 200 free relay, which won in 1:34.50.
“He was a little under the weather and didn’t want to swim today, and I said, ‘Well, you get to swim today,’ ” the coach said. “The human body is an amazing thing. When you think it’s giving up on you, it digs a little deeper.”
The Tides have placed eighth and sixth, respectively, at the last two state meets, and it’s possible they could challenge those marks in February if they qualify one or two more individuals.
Kelly thinks freshman Griffin Doane has a shot to do it in the 100 breaststroke. His fastest time is about 1:09, and he’ll need to get to 1:03.30 for an automatic qualification.
“He could pop up as a surprise for some people; it wouldn’t be a surprise for me,” Kelly said. “He’s a good, hard-working kid, and it’s nice that he’s a freshman, that he’s got a good foundation for the years to come.”Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4158 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.