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4A STATE SWIMMING: Palo Verde boys, girls add to championship haul

CARSON CITY — The most dangerous team in any sport is a champion that perceives itself as an underdog.

Whether anybody else agreed didn’t matter to the Palo Verde girls swimming and diving team, which used that motivation to win its third consecutive 4A state championship Saturday at the Carson Aquatic Facility.

The Palo Verde boys team, meanwhile, won its fifth consecutive title with not nearly as much drama or challenge.

The Palo Verde girls scored 126 team points to win the state championship over Green Valley, which was second with 119. Desert Oasis was the next-best Southern Nevada team in sixth place with 30 points.

Before the meet, Palo Verde coach Brent Gonzalez scored the meet based on seedings and determined that Green Valley had a 16-point advantage. His message to his team was that it would take a lot of work to make that up.

“I told the girls that we’re on a mission and we’ve got to knock this down,” Gonzalez said. “They want the team trophy, they don’t want the boys to keep winning and them not win.”

The boys team had a comfortable lead after the first seven events and cruised to the win with 115 points. Coronado was second with 72, Douglas was third with 57, Legacy came in fourth with 53 and Foothill was fifth with 48, as Southern Nevada teams claimed seven of the top eight spots.

Area swimmers won 22 of the 24 individual events.

The Palo Verde girls had three individual champions: Allie Emery in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.83 seconds, and Chloe Freeman in the 100 butterfly (55.95) and the 500 freestyle (5:00.51).

The Panthers also won the girls 200 freestyle relay with Emelia Piccininni, Grace Siebmann, Freeman and Emery swimming in 1:37.54.

Green Valley’s Victoria Navarro and Abby Richter each won two events and had a hand in two winning relays.

Navarro won the 200 freestyle in 1:50.08 and the 100 freestyle in 51.32, while Richter won the 200 IM in 2:00.73 and the 100 backstroke in 54.48.

Green Valley won the 200 medley relay with Richter, Cassandra McKercher, Liz Clinch and Navarro finishing in 1:45.03 and the 400 freestyle relay with Richter, Clinch, Valerie Kitchens and Navarro posting a time of 3:28.35.

“We expected it to be close, and it makes it a lot more exciting and fun that we had work to win,” Piccininni said. “And this is the fifth championship at our school this week, and to be part of that is special.”

Several Palo Verde girls said the championship was all the more special because of the long bus ride home to celebrate it.

“It seems more special when you get to travel,” Siebmann said.

Senior Mihail Amiorkov led the Palo Verde boys team, winning two individual events and leading off the winning 400 freestyle relay.

Amiorkov won the 200 IM in 1:52.26 and the 100 backstroke in 51.68., while David Miller won the 100 butterfly in 51.33, Dylan Sweikert won the 100 freestyle in 47.60 for the Panthers. Palo Verde’s 400 freestyle relay team of Amiorkov, Richie Selznick, Ahmed Mohammed and Sweikert won in 3:13.54.

“As a senior, I wanted to make best of it and go in with a bang,” said Amiorkov, the only swimmer who has been part of Palo Verde’s four championship teams. “It provides a great opportunity for success because if you put in the work, you can get everything out of it.”

Selznick has been part of the past three championship teams.

“It’s just amazing to go through this process,” he said. “Everyone did their part and we got it done.”

Other Southern champions were: the Legacy boys 200 medley relay team of McKay Mickelson, Tama Tuitama, Tristan Arruti and Julian Rockmaker in a time of 1:38.25; Denver Renner of Foothill in the boys 200 freestyle in 1:43.18; Timothy Newton of Coronado in diving with 482.35 points; Sawyer Grimes of Centennial in the boys 500 freestyle in 4:42.13; and Tuitama in the boys 100 breaststroke in 58.31.

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