Rogers senior Mitchell Crossen lunged into the touchpad to finish the fourth heat of the 50-yard freestyle at the Class 4A boys swimming and diving state championships on Friday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
Feeling strong about the finish, he sprang backward six feet into open water, looked up for his time, and saw nothing.
“I was kind of like, ‘Wait, what happened?’ ” Crossen said.
Technical difficulties with the scoreboard — or maybe Crossen just broke it.
His official time in the preliminary race posted more than half an hour later— a speedy 21.41 seconds — awarding him the No. 2 seed in Saturday’s final. Crossen was 0.08 seconds off Kamiak’s Eben Schumann who took first. All eight swimmers in the championship heat are separated by less than a second.
“The 50 is a crapshoot,” Crossen said. “Anybody from the whole heat could win, but I’m ready.”
Ready and confident described Crossen’s afternoon. He glided to a No. 1 seed in the 100 freestyle at 46.44, shaving 0.77 seconds off his qualifying time.
“To go in seeded first is a hard place to be,” Rogers coach Stefani Fersch said. “It’s easier to come from behind than hold your own with most kids. But with him, he’ll be fine.”
Crossen finished sixth in the 100 at state last year, and eighth his sophomore year. Fersch said his rapid development was, more than anything, a decision driven by his sudden hunger for the sport between his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“He just started dropping time,” she said. “He never wavered; he never had second thoughts, or doubts, or anything.”
What Crossen wants to do Saturday is go “out with a bang.”
“I realized I could take this far, as far as I want to, and it brought me here, and it’s a great spot to be in,” he said.
With less than 24 hours between him and two possible state titles, Crossen said he will focus on relaxing, staying loose, and visualizing his final races as a high school swimmer.
“I told him to savor every single minute of it,” Fersch said. “The work he’s done to get here is unbelievable, so to have fun and enjoy his time.”
Championship heat qualifications were sparse for the rest of the 4A West Central District, with Curtis and Gig Harbor advancing the most swimmers. Both advanced in the 200-yard freestyle relay — Gig Harbor at No. 5, Curtis at No. 6 — and the 400-yard freestyle relay with Curtis at No. 7 and Gig Harbor at No. 8.
Curtis and Gig Harbor will race against Newport, Issaquah, Kamiak and Moses Lake in both events Saturday; the latter four are all contenders to reach the podium in the team competition. Newport is the defending state champion. Bellevue is primed to win the Class 3A competition with 18 swimmers qualifying for championship heats, and first place finishes in all three relays, and Archbishop Murphy will be tested by Sehome in its attempt to win a third consecutive Class 2A title.
Steilacoom junior James Scott qualified with the No. 5 seed in the 50-yard freestyle at 22.22, and finished with the No. 1 seed in the 100 breast at 58.68. Scott is the defending state champion in the event.
“I’m just looking for the win, having fun,” he said. “Trying to help the team get as far as it can.”
Steilacoom snuck into the 400-yard freestyle relay with the No. 8 seed, and placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:32.25.