Niehoff wins 400 free for Tigersharks

Abbey Niehoff made her debut in a new age group a successful one on Friday afternoon for the Carson Tigersharks at their own Intermountain Classic long course meet.

Niehoff, who turned 11 last month, won the girls 11-12 division 400-meter freestyle and Lauren Costella later won the women's open 1,500-meter freestyle to give the Tigersharks two victories on the opening of a four-day meet that continues through Monday at the Carson City Aquatic Facility.

Niehoff won her 400 race in a time of 5 minutes, 17.91 seconds, nearly five seconds faster than Madison Gray of Winnemucca to win her first race in the 11-12 age group.

"This was Abbey's first meet as an 11-12 year old so I'm really happy with how she performed for this early in the season," Tigersharks age group coach Jackie Boudreau said of Niehoff, who is also playing in a soccer tournament this weekend. "The Q time to qualify for Far Westerns is 5:09, she hasn't been 11 for a month and she's that close to qualifying, so that's very exciting. We're looking for a good summer from her."

Costella, 17, cruised to first-place in the open girls 1,500 in 17:25.48. The primary objective was establish a start to her summer long course season, according to coach Jim Puleo.

"She went 5:49, 5:48, 5:47 for her 500-meter meter splits, so she was swimming really and within herself. I think those times are something for her to shoot for in practice now," Puleo said of Costella, who will swim at the Phillips 66 National Championships Aug. 12-17 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Justin Barber, 17, finished fourth in the men's open 1,500 for the Tigersharks with a time of 17:06.01. Matthe Biel, 16, of the Terrapins won the race in 16:25.50, Followed by Henry Holmberg from Bend, Ore., in 16:36.87. Scott Kaufmann of Reno Aquatics, who competed as a freshman for the University of Florida this past year, was third in 16:42.92.

Garrett Clayton of the Tigersharks placed third in the boys 11-12 400 freestyle with a 5:34.21 clocking. Three other Tigersharks competed in their first 1,500 -- Rebekah Niehoff (20:11.94), Lauren Metcalf (21:33.83) and Barbara Perkins (22:11.17).

Competition resumes this morning at 8:30 a.m. followed by an afternoon session at 1:30 p.m., with approximately 300 age group swimmers competing for teams representing California and Oregon as well as Northern Nevada. The meet concludes on Monday.

"It's a fun meet," Puleo said. "Not only is this is the first meet of the long course season, a lot of these teams are coming in here, their older kids get to swim in the morning session and then they're going to enjoy our area. They're going to go to Reno, they're going to go to Lake Tahoe, they're going to go to Virginia City, so this meet has a huge economic impact on our city and the area."


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