All-Tribune Boys Swimmer of Year: Payton Sorenson - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

All-Tribune Boys Swimmer of Year: Payton Sorenson

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Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:28 pm, Thu Dec 13, 2012.

Like most athletes, Payton Sorenson says once he put his mind to it, he could accomplish his goals.

No one told his shoulder about that plan.

The 2011 Tribune Boys Swimmer of the Year was happy to be competing this fall after injuring his shoulder in the spring, keeping him from doing anything more than kicking in the water for much of the summer.

"I had to get back in, I missed all the long-course meets," the Mountain View senior said. "Seeing how it would respond was my biggest concern."

Sorenson did get back to training by the time school started, used the high school season to work out his shoulder and ended up sweeping what might be the two hardest swims at the state meet - the sprints.

"I tell myself that I can do it, then put in the hard work and did what I needed to do," Sorenson said matter-of-factly as if it were commonplace.

Hardly the case in what are, in many minds, the marquee events of a swim meet, not to mention the most competitive and least-forgiving of events.

The slightest mistake can cost tenths of a second, and the difference between first and fourth place in the 50 freestyle at the state meet was less than a second. In the 100, the top three finishers were within a half-second.

Sorenson won both the 50 and 100 and then was the first leg of two winning relays during the Nov. 5 state championships at Skyline Aquatic Center.

In fact, the second of those relays was a keeper. The Toros outdid a team from perennial state champion Phoenix Brophy Prep.

"We really wanted to take down Brophy," Sorenson said.

The BYU-bound aqua man got his coach's attention with his Nov. 5 performances.

"Payton and I worked since last summer on the mental preparation necessary to win both sprints," Mountain View coach Rob Ronan said. "It is extremely difficult to win both the 100 and 50 free, and even more of a challenge was to repeat as the 50 free champion. Payton's a wonderful young man and a tremendous athlete who set out to do what no public school swimmer has done since the 1970s or 80s - to win four ‘golds' at the state meet."

In the 200 medley relay - the first event at the state meet - Sorenson gave his team a one-second lead after his leg. Senior Derek Marske, junior Edgar Febres and senior Derek Buckley completed the win, nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Brophy.

In the 200 freestyle relay, again Sorenson got his team a big lead. The same group in a slightly different order - Buckley, Marske, Febres - not only left their Catholic rivals well behind, but the Toros clocked in at 1:23.71, fastest in state history, 0.15 of a second quicker than Brophy's record set in 2004.

"For a boy to step up and not only handle the pressure but to do what he did that day was incredible," Ronan said. "The state record the 200 free relay team broke was six years old and one of the most difficult records in the state to break."

Sorenson says he merely pushed himself to be in position to win his events, although he also has perspective.

He didn't decide on a college until right after the state meet, but went into the recruiting process knowing he likely would not end up at a more visible swimming power.

He told recruiters that he wanted to compete for one year and then serve a two-year mission for his church.

"A lot of top-end schools aren't going to hold a scholarship for two years," Sorenson said. "But it was more important to make sure I was going to the right place."

He was in the right place this season, ending up atop the podium a whopping four times during the biggest meet of all.

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