From March 15-17, 52 of the 60 state qualifying Williston Sea Lion swimmers traveled to Fargo to compete in the short course state championships. As it turned out, a host of incredible memories were created along the way.
In the overall standings, the Sea Lions placed fifth out of a field of 14 teams. During the three-day competition, Marissa Branham represented the Sea Lions with a total of four first-place finishes. She claimed the top spot in the 50, 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes, as well as the 100-yard individual medley. After the meet, Sea Lions head coach Karen Guglich spoke of the insatiable work ethic which makes Branham so successful. “She is one of the most dedicated young people I know. She plans to swim in college, and she is a true leader on the team,” Guglich said of Branham. “It really makes my job easier because Marissa is very coachable, and she takes every practice seriously.”
In the 10 and under division, Williston’s Trevin Lounsbury also separated himself from the rest of the pack, earning a pair of first place finishes in the 50-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke. In addition, he recorded second place finishes in the 500-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, 50-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley. In total, Lounsbury’s versatility in a number of different events allowed the youngster to rack up a whopping total of 124 team points.
Meanwhile, fellow Sea Lion Jayden Woodward also made her presence felt on the podium as she placed third in the 200-yard freestyle, sixth in the 50-yard freestyle, and seventh in the 50-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle. For good measure, Woodward also collected eighth place in the 100-yard individual medley. In relay competition, the boys 10 and under team of Lounsbury, Tytus Guglich, Trevor Baltes and Caden Huravitch finished in third place.
As for the contingent of swimmers who are 11-years old and up, eighth-grader Kolden Kringen collected first place finishes in the 200-yard butterfly, the 100-yard breast, the 200-yard and 100-yard individual medleys, and the 50-yard and 200-yard breaststroke. Even more impressive, Kringen broke the state record for the individual medley in the 100 with a final time of 57.72.
Other highlights from the Sea Lions included graduating Williston High School senior Jonathan Babcock’s three first-place finishes in the 100-yard freestyle, the 50 and the 100-yard backstrokes. Not to be outdone, Camden Ekblad-Lundby claimed first place in the 1,000-yard freestyle for the Sea Lions.
During the last day of statewide competition on Sunday, March 17, the 13 and 14 year-old girls relay team consisting of Branham, Savannah Goehring, Rylee Skardal, and Demi Peterson raced to a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle. Meanwhile, the 13 and 14 year-old Sea Lions boys relay unit of Reese Holder, Ethan Babcock, David Luthy and Kringen matched the girls with a second-place finish of their own in the 200-yard freestyle.
Moving forward with her talented group of swimmers, Guglich, who has been involved with the Sea Lions program for eight years, says helping young boys and girls achieve their athletic goals is her favorite part of coaching. “Whenever our swimmers set goals, it is so awesome to see them put in the work to make those goals a reality,” the youth coach adds.