EAST WENATCHEE — Derek Savage put on a show Thursday at Eastmont YMCA Aquatic Center, picking up his fifth state qualifying time of the winter, but it wasn’t enough to help the Wildcats defeat Wenatchee in the cross-river rivals’ annual dual meet.
Savage won two individual events and swam the lead leg on a pair of winning relays, but the Panthers’ depth gave them the points it needed to secure a 102-84 victory.
“We’re working on building that depth back up, but we took quite a lot of points off the top,” Eastmont coach Chris Stark said. “We’ve swum better and every meet we’ve had in January and we had some performances exceed where we thought we’d be.”
The fans in attendance Thursday were also treated to a performance by Eastmont’s Austin Kent and Billy Tuthill, two of the frontrunners for the Class 3A diving title this season.
Tuthill beat his teammate on this occasion, but both Wildcats looked effortless in completing programs packed with difficult dives.
Savage, who already has state times in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events as well as the 200 individual medley, won the 100 backstroke by a body length Thursday in a qualifying time of 55.67.
Savage is only permitted to swim two individual events and/or two relays in the postseason, so he’s given Stark a lot to think about before district entries are submitted on Sunday.
“Coach and I will sit down and talk about what events will produce the best results at state,” Savage said. “I don’t know what that will be yet.”
“Any coach will tell you that whatever you swim at districts, you have to swim at state,” Stark said. “You saw today what he can do in the backstroke, and he’s a pretty good freestyler too.”
Wenatchee’s William Robinson and Ryan Gangle each won two individual events, and Gabe Stefanides posted a key win in the 500 freestyle to help the Panthers to the victory over Eastmont.
Leading by just two points after the seventh of 12 events, Stefanides won the 500 in 5:18.43. The Panthers also took third and fourth in the event, and padded that cushion the rest of the way.
“The guys we needed to have big swims today did,” Wenatchee coach James Elwyn said. “The 500 is one of Gabe’s better events, and we didn’t have a chance to put him there quite as much this year. We knew it would be a good race for him.”
Last weekend’s icy weather forced the postponement of the triple dual between Wenatchee, Richland and Hanford, so the Bombers and Falcons made the trip north Thursday.
What resulted was a nearly four-hour long swim-a-palooza.
It was the final regular season meet for all four teams, with the district meet set for next Friday and Saturday at Central Washington University.