Swimming: Christian Liberty’s Wells surprises; HPA standouts find college homes

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Karly Noetzel
Kira Parker

KEAAU — Christian Liberty’s Cameron Wells managed to do something in the pool Saturday that no one else on the Big Island has accomplished in a handful of years: He overshadowed Hawaii Prep.

That’s according to Ka Makani coach Mark Noetzel.

The fourth BIIF swimming meet of the season featured the return of conference powerhouse and presumptive favorite HPA, but Wells provided one of the primary highlights, ripping off a win in the 500-yard freestyle in 4 minutes, 54.78 seconds, almost 10 seconds ahead of HPA’s Brock Imonen.

“Impressive time and probably the most impressive swim of the meet,” Noetzel said. “He set the tempo for some others guys to chase, which is OK.”

Actually, it’s more than OK in Noetzel’s eyes, and it gives him a carrot to dangle in front of Imonen and his boys swimmers as the season progresses toward BIIFs (Jan. 26-27) and states (Feb.9-10).

In a perfect world for Noetzel, a few girls front-runners would emerge for HPA to have to chase, but no such luck with swimmers such as Kira Parker, Maile Lawson and Karly Noetzel around.

Parker, a senior, and Lawson, a junior breaststroke ace, pretty much can be penciled in for golds in whatever two events they choose, and Noetzel is an accomplished senior as well, giving Ka Makani three-fourths of what they need to pull off their usual domination in the relays.

“Anna Sorenson is our fourth on relays, so she has to keep it up,” Mark Noetzel said. “A state qualifier in the backstroke and the (individual medley), so she is a big part of this program.”

Imonen won the 200 free in addition to finishing second Saturday behind Wells in the 500, and freshman Kaden Parker delivered wins in the 50 and 100 free along with swimming in two relay victories, and the returnees include Matthew Ostrem, the defending champion in the breaststroke.

Still, Noetzel calls the league championships “up for grabs.”

“I’m not confident that it’s ours by any means,” he said.

What has been decided is the future college homes of Kira Parker and Karly Noetzel, both of whom signed letters of intent in November. Parker realized her goal of competing in Division I at Vermont, while Noetzel is headed to Division III powerhouse Denison in Ohio.

“With Kira, it’s about finding a school you can progress in and a conference in which you can compete, and, of course, the courses they offer,” said Mark Noetzel, who grew up in the Midwest and has long admired Denison’s program.

“They send kids to the big dance, and not just the NCAA level, the Olympic trial-level. She can progress there.”