Sullivan, Hight help Tigers to title
Joe Sullivan and Justin Hight were individual double winners Saturday to help propel the Douglas High boys to their fourth straight team title at the Northern 4A Region Swimming and Diving Championships.
Sullivan won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races, while Hight won the 100 butterfly then combined with Josh Smithen to give Douglas a 1-2 finish in the 100 backstroke at the Carson Aquatic Facility in Carson City.
Their wins provided 80 points toward the team title for the Tigers, who finished with 424 points overall to outdistance Galena (325) and Carson (320). Douglas had eight boys advance to the state meet this Saturday at the Carson Aquatic Facility (the top three in each event qualified).
Sullivan and Hight were also honored as co-Northern 4A Male Swimmer of the Year recipients.
“This is four in a row,” Sullivan said, smiling. “I’m happy to have been there for all four, but it’s not been just me. It’s been a team effort … and it was definitely more than just the seniors (on Saturday) because we had some other guys step up.”
Sullivan gave an indication of things to come in the 50 freestyle when he sped to a school and personal record time of 21.89 to win by more than a full second. It improved his best of 22.16 two weeks before during a conference dual meet in the same Carson pool and surpassed the school record he shared with Andy Sturgess (set in 2004).
“I’ve been trying to get to 21 for a long time so I’m happy I finally have the school record,” Sullivan said. “I’m still tapering and there is going to be some great competition at state, so I’m think I can still go faster.”
Later, the senior set another personal record in the 100 freestyle with a 48.40 clocking to win a duel against Reno’s Henry Pendleton, who finish second (49.40). This marked the fourth straight year Sullivan has been a top-four finisher in the region 100 freestyle final — but his first win in the event.
Hight was fastest in the 100 butterfly in Friday’s prelims (54.30) and the senior was even faster in the final as he went 53.63, two seconds ahead of Carson’s Reece Canfield.
In a repeat from last year’s region meet, Hight and Smithen swept the top two places in the 100 backstroke with respective times of 54.54 and 55.08. Taylor Knowles also placed seventh (56.65) to give the Tigers 49 points in the event.
Alexander Laningham provided a lift when he won the boys 1-meter diving Wednesday at the University of Nevada’s Lombardi Recreation Center. Laningham posted a 221.05 score to win the event ahead of Bishop Manogue’s Sam Stewart (218.85).
Douglas also received a boost from first-place performances in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Daniel Taylor, Hight and the Smithen brothers combined to win the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.63), two-hundreds of a second ahead of Carson. Then the Tigers capped off their day with a victory in the 400 freestyle relay as Taylor Knowles, Sullivan and the Smithen brothers combined for a time of 3:17.70 (five seconds faster than their No. 1 qualifying time from the prelims).
Sullivan and Hight joined Chris Manning and Knowles to take second-place in the 200 medley relay (1:42.67).
Manning was one of the Tigers who stepped up in the big meet, as the freshman placed third in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.80, nearly two seconds faster than his prelims time) and was sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:12.0).
Joey Smithen placed fourth in the breaststroke (1:06.10) and fifth in the 200 I.M. (2:06.92). Josh Smithen took fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:50.20) and Knowles sixth in the 500 freestyle (5:20.03). Dakota Blaha won the B final (6:02.12), ahead of Zach Laningham (6:04.71).