Wolves get warm-up at division meet

Just moments after Rachel Hughes finished the 100 free at last week's divisional meet in Port Angeles, she looked up at the scoreboard, hoping to see a district meet-qualifying mark.

She was shocked to see her time still was running. Hughes pressed the timing pad in her lane again and again, but the clock simply wouldn't stop.

Turns out she was looking at the wrong lane for her time and that her finish (1:10.87) was good enough for districts.

Head coach Linda Bingler and the Wolves are hoping for that kind of good luck as Sequim prepares for the West Central District 2A meet, slated for Nov. 8 at Olympic High School in Silverdale.

The Wolves got their final preparation last Thursday in Port Angeles at divisionals, a large, combined meet for several local 1A, 2A and 3A schools.

While host Port Angeles dominated many of the placings, Sequim saw a relay team and three individuals earn district meet-qualifying times, including Hughes in the 100 free (a two-second personal best), Rachel Hardy in the 200 individual medley (2:47.03) and Billie Jane Stone in the 50 free (31.88), Stone's first district-qualifying time of the season.

That means Sequim is taking nine swimmers to districts with hopes of some top finishes and berths to the class 2A state meet, set for Nov. 14-15 in Federal Way.

Bingler is no stranger to the state meet, having taken three relays and seven athletes last season and helping the Wolves take third place at the state 2A meet in 2006.

"They get self-confidence (at districts and state)," Bingler said. "In the newer swimmers, it's really good to have that. Hopefully they'll share that with other swimmers. Hopefully, they'll share that excitement."

That is key, Bingler said, because coaches often spend a lot of the three-month season teaching new swimmers and technique. If young swimmers with at least a year or two of experience come ready and in shape, that can inspire the team, she said, the way former state champion Justine Textor, a 2007 grad, did her senior season.

"There's a gap of experience and information, between the girls now and the girls that graduated," Bingler said. "They haven't worked as hard as they need to."

Sequim's veterans will get another chance to work hard, with the district meet set for next weekend. The top two swimmers in each event advance to state, although state meet officials may give out extra berths for swimmers with good times to help fill out certain events.

For some Sequim swimmers, predominantly those new to swimming, the season is finished. Bingler said she was impressed with the progress of several new swimmers, including Mia Evridge, who posted a three-second improvement in the 50 free at last week's meet.

"We had 15 new swimmers this year," Bingler said. Now they all know how to swim. Now we have to build their stamina and speed."

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