Just call them the fearsome foursome.
Going into Saturday’s Class 4A Sea-King District swim and dive meet at Juanita High Pool in Kirkland, the Redmond girls squad knew their strength was in the 200-yard medley relay.
After all, the combination of Becca Wyant, Heather Harper, Maureen Cardwell and Melodie Nagasawa, left the competition in their wake during last Friday’s preliminaries, winning the race in a rocket time of 1 minute, 50.66 seconds, nearly four seconds ahead of any other team.
Not to be outdone, the Mustangs turned on the afterburners in Saturday’s finals with a wire-to-wire victory over Eastlake and Garfield in a state-qualifying time of 1:49.68. Eastlake was second in 1:53.09, another state time, and Garfield was third in 1:53.48.
“We’re really psyched,” said Wyant, a senior. “We want to win state, and I think we have a really good chance of doing it. We have an awesome relay, and we’re pumped for it.”
Led by Wyant’s strong leadoff leg in the backstroke, Redmond opened up a lead of more than a second at the first exchange of the district finals. Harper, who swam the breaststroke, added to the lead, swimming her 50 meters in less than 30 seconds. Cardwell and Nagasawa also uncorked impressive swims as the relay team accomplished their main goal of the meet.
“Just to dominate, to win … go our fastest and have fun,” Wyant said. “Beat whoever’s next to me, and go fast. I wanted to go under 28 (seconds) for my 50 back, and I did.”
The Mustangs’ time earned them All-American consideration for that event, and was only .36 of a second off the highest possible honor – the automatic All-American time.
Harper, just a sophomore, added a gold-medal swim in the 100 breast to go along with a sixth-place finish in the 200 individual medley. Cardwell, the defending state champion in the 100 butterfly and 50 free, was third in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the speedy 50 free finals. Wyant won the silver medal in the 100 backstroke race and joined Cardwell in the 100 butterfly finals, finishing sixth.
Now the confident Mustang swimmers are hoping to make a splash – and most importantly, learn from their mistakes – at the state meet, which is Friday and Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The Mustangs finished sixth in the team standings, tied with Lake Washington, and would have finished higher if it weren’t for a devastating disqualification in the 400 free relay prelims. The girls were knocked out due to an early exchange.
“We did excellent,” said Redmond coach Julie Barashkoff. “We suffered a little bit with our DQ in the 400 free relay, but we did great in the medley relay, with an All-American consideration time. Heather winning the breaststroke was nice, Maureen is swimming right where she needs to be going into (this) weekend, Becca had excellent 100 fly, 100 back finishes.”
Harper, a sophomore, led from start to finish in the 100 breast with a winning time of 1:05.89, which set a new school record, breaking the old mark of 1:08.22, swam by Dionne Reed in 1992. Harper also clocked a 2:12.70 in the 200 IM, good for sixth.
Skyline standout Andie Taylor put on a performance for the ages in the 200 IM, swimming an unbelievable 1:58.59, which is believed to have broken the state record by about three seconds.
Cardwell, a senior looking to become the first back-to-back state champion at Redmond High since 1997, placed sixth in a hotly contested 50 free final, where only .74 of a second separated first and last place in the championship heat.
Cardwell and Wyant came back and swam in the finals of the 100 butterfly, with Cardwell placing third (59.65) and Wyant sixth (1:01.10).
The Mustangs failed to qualify for the finals of the 100 and 500 free and 200 free relay events, but they made up for it in a big way in the 100 back and breast finals, which Redmond had Wyant and Harper, respectively, slated to swim.
The 100 back turned out to be a race for second behind Ballard standout Annemarie Thayer, who clocked an automatic All-American time of 54.90.
In a photo finish, Wyant just edged out Inglemoor’s Claire Thompson for the silver medal with a time of 1:00.59. Thompson clocked a 1:00.61.
Barashkoff admitted that the points lost in the 400 relay “really cost us,” and that her team will be careful not to duplicate their error at the state meet.
“We’re just going to go in, have fun, and see what we can do,” Barashkoff said. “Our goals are to have safe starts, and just to ride on what we started today, to finish out the season really strong.”