Sports

Untouchable

Moments before South Kitsap sophomore Madison Rousell stepped on the starting blocks for Saturday's final in the 100-yard freestyle, she had the old MC Hammer classic "U Can't Touch This" ringing in her head. Exactly 52.35 seconds later, her name was ringing across the state as she blew away the field and captured her first individual swim title at the Class 4A Swim & Dive Championships at Federal Way's King County Aquatic Center.

"I figured because I played that song, I had to win," Rousell said of her choice of entrance music for the event's final group. "As soon as I dove off the blocks, I wanted it. I wanted it before the meet, but as soon as I dove off, I knew I had to get it. So I just went."

Rousell, who sprained her ankle Wednesday playing handball during a physical education class, also placed second in the 50 free to help lead her team to a 12th-place finish at the meet. And she became the school's first individual swimming state champ since 1998.

"It hurts," Rousell said of her ankle. "But I just don't think about it."

What she will be thinking about, at least for a while, is the title race that she dominated. She entered the finals as the No. 1 seed, which gave her the honor of picking the entrance music, and beat the field by almost a full second, setting a personal best time that was fast enough to earn her All-American consideration.

In fact, her time was about a half-second faster than she had ever swam before.

"I am just so happy, I'm ecstatic," Rousell said. "And next year, I'm going to want to be state champion again. I want to keep it going."

Rousell got off to a fast start in the race, swimming a 24.9 first split which was the key to victory, her coach Dennis Anderson said.

"It was perfect," Anderson said. "She had a great race. She went out fast like she was supposed too and she just dominated the walls (on her turns). And that's a big thing for here - she's got those big strong legs and that awesome kick.

"I told her to get out front at the beginning," Anderson said. "I think that goes a long way for her confidence. It makes her stronger and stronger as the race goes on. And she did it."

Rousell's second-place finish in the 50 free came as no surprise either, especially to her. She said she knew it would be almost impossible to beat Oak Harbor's Missy McIntyre but just wanted to stay with her and get in the top three.

McIntyre won the event with a blistering 23.28 as Rousell hung just back and swam a 24.34, good enough for second and yet another All-American consideration time.

"The 50, I was happy," Rousell said. "McIntyre is quick. I didn't think I'd be able to beat her. But if I stayed up with her, I'd get second and that's what I wanted. And it just got me pumped and ready for the 100."

But Rousell wasn't the only one turning in a career-best time Saturday. Senior Rachel Hubner finally broke the one minute mark in the 100-yard butterfly, swimming a 59.93 in her final individual race of her high-school career, good enough for fifth place.

"I don't really think at all during my races, so I just kind of went," Hubner said. "But I was very happy to see that I just barely squeaked under a minute. I was really excited."

Hubner came into the race seeded 10th but finished fifth, making a huge jump.

"Rachel had the goal of breaking a minute and she did," Anderson said. "Breaking a minute in the fly is huge."

And while there was plenty to cheer about this day, there were some disappointments, those coming mainly from the relay results.

The Wolves' 200-yard free relay finished 12th in the preliminaries but rebounded to win the consolation heat with a time of 1:43.55, which would have been good enough for sixth place in the finals heat. The team also missed out on the finals heat in both the 400 free and 200 IM relays.

"We didn't place on the relays and that was kind of disappointing," Hubner said. "This is my last year and I really wanted to stand on the medal stand with my team instead of by myself. That's the only chance that (little sister) Kate and I would get too do that and we didn't get to. Oh, well, what are you going to do? I'll survive."

Anderson, who was named coach of the year after the meet, said he was a little disappointed in the relay results but was satisfied in the relay's times, all of which improved.

"We swam fast," Anderson said. "But then, so did everyone else. We did our share but sometimes it doesn't work out your way."

Junior Megan Finnie also had a disappointing day. She missed out on the 500 free finals by .02 but didn't have a particularly good consolation race, finishing eight seconds slower than her prelim time.

But that couldn't take away from the overall result.

"All in all, it was a very good year," Anderson said. "And Madi winning, that was just icing on the cake."

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