Max Klassen finally struck gold at Saturday’s Class 4A state swim and dive meet.
The Redmond senior nailed a very difficult 1 1/2 forward somersault with two twists on his final dive at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way to edge out Randall Peltier of A.C. Davis High, 452.90-444.05, and claim his first diving gold medal.
Klassen held a sizable lead over Peltier, 328.60-306.95, after the preliminary competition on Thursday, but Peltier made a run with two brilliant dives to narrow the gap going into the final round.
Klassen, who placed second to Bothell’s Ben Nicholas last year at state and finished third as a sophomore, put forth his best effort on his third and final dive. Klassen’s nearly flawless final dive earned many scores of 6 and 6.5 out of 7 from the judges and cemented his grip on the championship.
“It feels great, just my progression from third two years ago, second last year to first this year,” Klassen said. “After the first two (dives), it was pretty scary… it was unsettling. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized how close it really was.”
A BRIDESMAID NO MORE
After coming so close in his previous attempts to bring home the state diving title, head boys’ swim coach Julie Barashkoff said she had a feeling this would be Klassen’s year.
“It’s fantastic,” she said of Klassen’s win. “He’s been looking forward to this all season. He had some good dives and finished really well.”
The competition in the pool, however, was perhaps as strong as ever this season at state.
Kamiak High School of Mukilteo took the championship with 222 team points, followed by Shorewood (206), Gig Harbor (201) and Richland (176).
Inglemoor was the high Kingco school in fifth place with 154.5 points, and the Mustangs ended up 15th out of the 41 4A schools participating with 61.
In what was a rebuilding year for the Mustangs, Barashkoff was happy with her team’s overall performance, especially due to an unexpected flu bug that took down one of her top swimmers, Dylan Portelance, at the most inopportune time.
“Dylan (Portelance) was sick all this week and woke up with a 101 fever (on Saturday),” Barashkoff noted. “We talked about scratching him out of the meet, but he said that he wanted to swim.”
Part of his decision lay undoubtedly in the fact that, being a senior, he wasn’t about to miss out on all the hard work he had put forth preparing for the state meet.
“It’s a pretty big deal for Dylan… He’s never even missed a day of school,” Barashkoff said. “He toughed it out and did what he could.”
Portelance helped the Mustangs place eighth in the 200 free relay, the team’s only appearance in the final heat.
Despite a high fever, the senior swam the leadoff leg, and was followed by fellow upperclassmen Will McCahill, Guillermo Romano and Klassen.