Carson Tigersharks coach Jim Puleo is pleased with what he's seen so far during the Intermountain Classic long-course age group swim meet. But now that the Memorial Day weekend meet is at its midway mark, this is when the hard work begins.
"When you're at a four-day meet like this, I think the tale of the tape is how the kids do at the end," Puleo said. "That is a benchmark of how they handle their focus and their energy level. That's what they have to do if they want to be successful at a national meet, or any big meet for that matter."
The Intermountain Classic, which has attracted 32 teams from California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, continues today and concludes on Monday at the Carson Aquatic Facility. Competition begins at 8:30 a.m. each day.
Abby Niehoff has already had a good meet for the Tigersharks, including first-place performances in the 13-14 girls age group 400-meter individual medley and 50 freestyle on Saturday. She also won her age group in the 1,500 freestyle on Friday with a junior national qualifying time of 17 minutes, 46.50 seconds.
"With the altitude adjustment, that time qualifies her for junior nationals, which is a helluva accomplishment," Puleo said, referring to a 23-second adjustment Niehoff received for Carson City's 4,700-foot elevation. "That's a pretty good deal for a 14-year-old to make a qualifying time for junior nationals in the 1,500 freestyle."
Niehoff came back on Saturday and won the 400 I.M. in a personal best time of 5:32.79, just ahead of Katrina Winsor (5:33.76) in a close race for first-place. Niehoff also clocked a 29.51 to take first-place in the 13-14 girls 50 freestyle.
Carson's Jamie Engan won another close race in the 15-18 girls 400 I.M. with a 5:22.11 effort in which she just touched out Sacramento Spare Time Aquatics standout Margaret Doolittle (5:22.42). Last year, Doolittle won the 100-meter breaststroke (1:11.53) and finished second for the high-point award at the summer junior nationals.
The fastest time of the event was a 5:18.62 logged by Jenni Stratton of the David Douglas Swim Club (Portland, Ore.) and Texas A&M.
Engan also placed third in the 15-18 girls 100 backstroke (1:13.09) and fifth in the 50 freestyle in 29.18.
In the 13-14 boys age group, Carson's Kevin Dyer placed third in the 400 I.M. (5:26.06), fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:11.73) and 11th in the 50 freestyle (29.10). Sam Ballard of the Tigersharks also swam to 13th in the 13-14 boys 400 I.M. in a personal best time of 6:04.28.
In the younger age groups, Cody Gillenwater placed fifth in the 11-12 boys 200 freestyle (2:36.77), sixth in the 100 butterfly (1:30.69) and sixth in the 50 freestyle (33.30).
Michaela Gillenwater placed fifth in the 9-10 girls 100 butterfly (1:33.91), eighth in the 50 freestle (37.13) and eighth in the 200 freestyle (2:55.20).
Two young swimmers in their first long course competition scored points for the Tigersharks. Tallon Rauch, 7, placed second in the 8-and-under boys 100 butterfly (2:30.48) and sixth in the 50 freestyle (47.87), while Kainnan Hamilton placed eighth in the 8-and-under boys 50 freestyle (52.17).
Also, finished ninth in the 11-12 boys age group 200 breaststroke (3:45.35) and 10th in the 50 freestyle (35.29). Tim Grunert finished 11th in the 11-12 boys 100 butterfly with a 1:50.56 clocking that improved his personal best by nearly 18 seconds and he finished 10th in the 200 breaststroke (3:52.04).
Spare Time Aquatics currently leads the team standings with 281 points, followed by the Bend Swim Club (Bend. Ore.) with 185, Reno Aquatic with 169.5 and the Tigersharks with 159.