State swimming and diving championships: HPA’s Lawson nears record in claiming breaststroke gold

The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo Hawaii Prep's Maile Lawson wins the 100 yard breaststroke in 1:02.51 -- finishing ahead of Kamehameha Kapalama's Jamy Lum, who took third, Saturday at the state swimming and diving championships on Maui.

The high school season is finished, but now is not a time of rest for many of Hawaii Prep’s club swimmers. They have Monday off, but than it’s back to work Tuesday.

The operative phrase is a coach Mark Noetzel favorite: “Spiral up.”

For junior Maile Lawson, it will be difficult to go much higher, or in this case, faster.

There are few breaststroke accomplishments left for Lawson to conquer in Hawaii after she blazed to her first HHSSA gold in the 100-yard final Saturday in her signature event at the championships at Kihei Aquatic Center on Maui, leaving her just one time left to beat.

“She was runner-up the past two years and she came through exceptionally fast,” Noetzel said. “I would venture to say she swam the second-fast 100 ever in the state.”

Touching in a blistering 1 minute, 02:51 seconds – basically, when she turned around after finishing runner-up Kaimilani Matsumoto of Baldwin hadn’t reached the flag yet – Lawson came within 10 one-hundredths of a second of the fastest recorded time. That would be the 1:02:41 that Kealakehe’s Cara Jernigan reached in 2014 in setting the state championship mark.

Lawson, who owns numerous stage age-group marks and records, also took silver in the 200 individual medley, finishing a little more than a half a second behind Matsumoto, also taking home her school record in that event.

“That’s a great accomplishment in itself,” Noetzel said. “She’s beating state champion’s times and swimmers of that caliber.”

Jernigan and Lawson are linked in that they each cut their teeth with Kona Aquatics. Jernigan is a senior at the University Idaho, where she is a two-time Western Athletic Conference finalist.

Lawson’s triumph also was notable because it was the first victory for a BIIF swimmer since Jernigan’s double-gold performance at Naeole Pool in Keaau four years ago.

Otherwise, it was another mild day for BIIF swimmers at states.

Ka Makani’s Kira Parker left with two more bronze medals, Waiakea’s Mina Poppas took home her first, and for the second time in four years, a BIIF boy didn’t finish in the top three.

Parker, a senior, was third in the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, giving her five career individual state medals.

“She was a little disappointed, I think, but that will add fuel to her preparations for sectionals coming up in Seattle,” Noetzel said.

Poppas, Waiakea junior, was third in the 500 in 5:09.41.

Poppas was fifth in the 200 in an effort that was behind the time she swam in setting a BIIF championship record two weeks ago.

HPAs girls (Parker, Sarah Houser, Lawson, Karly Noetzel) took fourth in the 400 freestyle relay and were fourth overall.

Noetzel missed out on bronze in the 50 free by six one-hundredths of a second, finishing in a personal-best 24.47.

Only two BIIF partcipants scored points on the boys side. HPA’s Aapo Eerola was fifth in the 200 in a personal-best 1:47.08 and Hilo’s Kore Ohumukini was fifth in the diving competition.

Also reaching finals were:

• HPA’s Brock Imonen, (sixth, 500 free; eighth, 200 free); also swam with two relay teams, 200 free (Kaden Parker, Alec Herre, Eerola) and 400 free (Ryan Cohen, Eerola, Matthew Ostrem) that were sixth and seventh, respectively
• Waiakea’s Korrie Tengen (seventh, 200 free; eighth backstroke); also swam on 400 relay team (Haruna Tomono, Kayla A Okazaki, Poppas) that was sixth
• HPA’s Kaden Parker (eighth, 50 free); in addition to 200 free relay, also swam on 200 IM relay (Cohen, Ostrem, Herre) that was sixth
• Kealakehe’s Ku’uleionalani Patterson (seventh, breastsroke; eighth, 100 free)
• Kealakehe’s Weylin Foo (sixth, butterfly)
• HPA’s Matt Ching (seventh, diving)