Dagen Kipling was rewarded for his attention to pace on Saturday when he logged a pair of top-three finishes at the NIAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
A late surge propelled the Carson High junior to second-place in the Division I boys 200-yard individual medley and he came back later in the day to place third in the 500 freestyle at the Carson Aquatic Facility.
Among the other local highlights, Douglas received gold medal performances from Shelby Koontz in the girls 100 butterfly and in the boys 200 medley relay. The Tigers also finished third in the boys team standings.
Kipling turned a time of 1:53.73 in the 200 IM and 4:46.08 in the 500 freestyle to set personal records in both events and provide highlights for the Senators. He showed strength over the last half of the IM race when he moved up from fifth-place, and in the end, he trailed only Green Valley’s Michael Velasquez (1:52.23).
“I knew the kids out there would go out pretty fast for the first 100 and I knew that my two strong strokes were at the end … the breaststroke and freestyle,” Kipling said. “I just wanted to take it home strong.”
By the way, Kipling improved by nearly six seconds from his fourth-place effort in the 200 IM at last year’s state meet in Las Vegas.
“That was a big drop from last year,” he said. “So I was happy with that, especially with the altitude adjustment.”
Koontz led start to finish on her way to winning the 100 butterfly in 55.80. The Douglas junior held a lead of one full second after she passed the opening 50 yards in 26.28 and was out front by 2.41 seconds at the finish.
Koontz placed second in the 200 IM with a time of 2:04.48, behind only the 2:02.73 effort by Green Valley All-American Abby Richter.
The state title was the second in three years for Koontz, who also won the 100 freestyle as a freshman in 2013. After sweeping regional titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle the last two years, however, Koontz decided she wanted a new challenge.
“I just wanted to mix it up because I did the 50 free and 100 free for two years, so I wanted to mix it up and do the 100 fly to see what happens,” she said. “The fly is a strong event of mine so I thought I would have a good chance at that.”
As it turned out, Koontz wasn’t far off the state record of 54.66.
“I was close,” Koontz said, referring to the meet record. “I wanted to get a little better time, closer to my best, which is a 54, but I’m happy with my 55.”
The Douglas boys began their day when the 200 medley relay team of Andre Mendes, Ryan Chen, Kevin Smithen and Joe Sullivan rallied from third-place midway through the race to win gold. Sullivan, a sophomore, put it away on the anchor leg with his 21.84 freestyle effort.
Mendes, an exchange student from Brazil, placed second in the 100 butterfly (53.09) and fourth in the 100 backstroke (52.11).
Douglas also placed third in the boys 200 freestyle relay as the quartet of Josh Smithen, Justin Hight, Sullivan and Kevin Smithen clocked a 1:30.61.
The Tigers were solid in what amounted to a fast 400 freestyle relay race that decided the team championship. Josh Smithen (51.02), Logan Killion (51.86), Hight (49.73) and Mendes (47.80) finished in a time of 3:20.41 that was two seconds faster than their region meet time one week before.
Palo Verde won the race in 3:15.86 to clinch its third straight state boys team championship.
Carson also finished seventh in the race, buoyed by a 49.30 leadoff leg from Tallon Rauch. The team included Jesse Session, Brett Kolb and Kipling.
“That was a good swim,” Carson coach Monica Weaver said of Rauch.
“He’s a senior … we’re definitely going to miss his leadership and inspiration.”
Carson’s Blanca Sosa and Nicole VanGeel placed seventh and eighth in the 100 freestyle with respective times of 56.73 and 57.26.