Underclassmen lead the way for South

South Kitsap High School swim coach Tami Lester-Dame spent the entire season waiting and working with a talented trio of underclassmen to achieve more.

Sophomores Brandon Dravis, Taylor Rousell and Justin Slezak, along with junior Zach Joachim, chose Saturday’s Class 4A state swim and dive meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way to show off some of that potential.

They teamed up in the 200-yard medley relay and finished with a season-best time of 1 minute, 42.84 seconds to place fifth in the event.

Snohomish won the event in 1:36.87.

Lester-Dame said she was surprised the Wolves even made the final field of eight since they weren’t seeded among the top 10 teams entering state.

She told her team to stick with the Marysville-Pilchuck team, which was a second faster, in the preliminaries.

They did that — and more — in the finals.

Marysville-Pilchuck finished sixth at 1:43.41.

Slezak was South’s top individual performer as he finished ninth in the 100 breaststroke with a personal-best 1:01.66. That time would have been the sixth best in the final had he qualified there.

“That shows you how important the prelim day is,” Lester-Dame said.

He also placed 15th in the 200 individual medley at 2:06.24 after his initial seed time placed him 24th.

Rousell tied for 15th in the 50 freestyle at 22.95; Dravis was 13th in the 100 freestyle at 50.25 and 14th in the 100 backstroke at 56.7.

Senior Michael Haire finished 24th among 30 divers with 119.6 points and was eliminated after first cut along with classmate Justin Gleason.

“They saw what the other divers were doing and I think they were psyched out by the competition,” Lester-Dame said.

The Wolves, who had a 9-3 overall record and were 8-2 in Narrows League competition, finished 16th among 37 participating teams with 51.5 points. Snohomish won the team championship with 247 points.

“They were all pleased with their individual performances as I was,” Lester-Dame said.

Even with the season ending, Lester-Dame said the group of returning state participants conferred outside the team bus and will hit the pool this week in preparation for their club events and next season.

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