When the state 5A-I girls swimming championship meet ended last season, they could have started engraving Katie Olsen’s name on this year’s 100-yard breastroke gold medal.
As a sophomore the Desert Vista swimmer won the 100 breastroke by a fingertip over an old swimmer nemesis, Christine Olson from Gilbert Mesquite.
After Olson graduated it looked like the field was wide open for the Thunder girls champion.
Unless, of course, she cautioned earlier this season, a contender came out of nowhere at the state finals on Saturday at the Kino Aquatic Center in Mesa.
If there was a ringer out there somewhere earlier she didn’t show up last weekend.
Olsen broke the state 100 breastroke record by almost a second and added another gold medal in the 50-yard freestyle helping the Thunder girls team to their second consecutive 5A-I runner-up spot behind Phoenix Xavier, which has won 24 state titles, including the last 11 counting this season.
Olsen’s time of one minute, 00.68 seconds, was an All-America qualifying time and broke the record of 1:01.57, set in 2006.
“I didn’t get the time I wanted,” Olsen said. “I wanted to get into the 59s, but I’m happy with it. I was more nervous then I expected because there was some really good competition.”
Olsen has more experience than most swimmers in the state meet.
She was on the U.S. Junior National Team and has participated in the U.S. Olympic trials.
Desert Vista, which placed third two years ago, came in with 323 points, 64 more than last season, but 223 behind Xavier.
Mountain Pointe’s girls team moved up to eighth (114) after a 12th-place finish last year.
The Pride lost eight seniors off last year’s girls team.
“To lose that many seniors and still finish eighth is incredible,” Mountain Pointe coach Steve Mancuso said. “Basically, that entire team is back next year and they were already telling me that they’ll do better next year.”
But they can’t do much better than Mancuso. He was named Coach of the Year for the 5A-I division.
Olsen was the only swimmer to take home a gold medal, but the depth of the Desert Vista girls team can’t be ignored.
The Thunder was only the fourth team in state history to score more than 300 points and still finish second. Scottsdale Desert Mountain came in with 348.5 points two years ago to finish behind Xavier, Tucson Salpointe piled up 333 points in a runner-up role to Xavier in 1995, and in 1972 Phoenix Sunnyslope scored 303 points behind Phoenix Washington.
Desert Vista got a third in the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly from junior Lauren Torres, second in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 butterfly from senior Tinsley Andrews.
Desert Vista teammates call Torres Ms. October (or November depending on when the championships are held). It’s a reference to former New York Yankee (and Arizona State University player) Reggie Jackson, who was called Mr. October for his usual spectacular play in the World Series.
“While she swims strong during the year,” Desert Vista coach Shawn O’Connell said, “she always takes her swimming to another level in the regional and state meets. She knows when to step up when it counts.”
Senior Taylor Newgaard earned more points for Desert Vista with a third in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 freestyle.
The girls Thunder team scored more points in the 200 medley relay (second), third in the 200 freestyle relay and another third in the 400 freestyle.
Individually, Mountain Pointe’s girls got a fourth from freshman Clara Jenck in the 100 backstroke. She was also on the Pride sixth-place 200 medley relay team with junior Lauren Crider, sophomore Nicole Van Alstine and junior Stefaine Conroy.
The same team placed sixth in the 200 freestyle relay.
Girls team scores, top 10: Xavier 546, Desert Vista 323, Mesa Mountain View 303, Mesa Red Mountain 138, Tucson Salpointe 135, Chandler Hamilton, Chandler (tie) 124, Mountain Pointe 114, Gilbert 108, and Corona 108.