A month ago, Peninsula High School senior Caleb Riggs stood on a platform in Greensboro, N.C., ready to take part in USA Swimming’s Junior Nationals event.
It showed him both a glimpse of where he’s at now, and where he wants to go.
Riggs finished 68th in the 100-yard breaststoke — right in the middle of the 125-man field — in 57.97 seconds, a time that would have broken his own school record (58.07), had it been during a high school meet.
On Thursday, Riggs backed off a bit and still cruised to a pair of individual wins, but the Class 3A Peninsula Seahawks dropped their first dual meet of the season, a 104-82 outcome against the 2A powerhouse Steilacoom Sentinels at the Peninsula High School pool.
“We all tried our hardest,” Riggs said. “That’s really all we can ask for.”
Riggs won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:08.48 and the 200 individual medley in 2:15.73.
Sprinter Travis Brunson won the 50 freestyle and Paul Friedman won the 1-meter diving competition, but Steilacoom had more depth and swept all three relay races.
The 200 free relay was the closest of them all as Riggs, Alex Wenman, Brunson and Bradley Keller battled Steilacoom’s James Scott, Daniel Cook, Andrew Gonzalez and Andrew Lamb.
Riggs gave Peninsula a solid lead, and the Seahawks still had the edge as Wenman tried to anchor the finish. But the Sentinels got the final push and edged the Seahawks by 0.12 seconds, 1:45.81 to 1:45.93.
“I saw the guy on the relay on the last turn,” said Wenman, a senior. “And I kind of foolishly put my head down. With 50 meters to go, you’re not breathing at all, so you’re not seeing anybody.”
Wenman also had competed in the 400 freestyle immediately before the relay. His time of 4:57.85 easily put him second behind Benjamin Scott, who flew through the event in 4:21.09.
“We were going for the win in the meet,” Wenman said, explaining his strategy to conserve energy in the long-distance race. “I went out hard in the first 100 (of the 400 freestyle), just to see where I was (in comparison to Scott).”
It almost paid off. But just as Wenman was out-touched at the wall in the 200 free relay, the team also narrowly missed qualifying for the 3A state championships. Peninsula will need to cut about 1.5 seconds off its time in the next few weeks in order to reach the King County Aquatic Center next month.
The other two relays — the 200 medley and 400 freestyle — are further away than that.
Wenman said it’s just a matter of time before they get their needed qualifications.
“If you put in all your work in practice, yeah, it might be detrimental now, but it’ll pay off in the end,” he said.
Brunson’s season-best effort in the 50 free earned him the top spot in 26.18.
“I just knew this was the time I needed to go fast or faster,” he said. “I just got my mindset that I really needed to try hard on this one.”
TIDES BEAT OLYMPIA
Erik Nielsen and Kellen Furrer each won a pair of events Thursday, and the Gig Harbor Tides swept all three relays to beat the Olympia Bears 105-75 at The Evergreen State College.
Nielsen took the 50-yard freestyle and 100 free in 22.42 and 48.47, respectively, while Furrer captured the 200 free (1:52.95) and 500 free (5:03.43).
Dale Williams and Bastian Weyn also won individual events. Williams swam 2:01.92 in the 200 IM, and Weyn scored 102.0 points in diving.
Gig Harbor (5-0, 4-0 Narrows 4A) remained undefeated in dual meets and will host Stadium (5-1, 2-0 Narrows 4A) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.