There’s often an asterisk when athletes dominate at a lower classification level because it’s unknown how they would fare against the best.
Luckily for Brianna Jurries, swimming does not have that unanswerable question.
At the Division II state meet on Nov. 3, the Valley Christian senior won a pair of state championships, including the 200-yard individual medley in a time of 2:03.74.
The Division I meet, with the majority of the state’s best swimmers, took place a few hours later, and even with her gold medal already in hand, Jurries couldn’t help but compare.
“I know the top swimmers, so after each session I would check,” she said. “Did I beat her?”
Mountain Pointe’s Clara Jenck captured the 200 IM state title with a time of 2:04.63, and it didn’t take long for Jurries to realize her time trumped everyone, regardless of division.
“I was so happy,” Jurries said. “And I think I set a pool record with the IM. I’ve worked so hard with everything the past couple years. Even though it wasn’t my goal (to have the best time), it’s kind of cool.”
Jurries’ domination on the lower levels and her ability to compete with the best has garnered her the Tribune’s Girls Swimmer of the Year award.
In addition to the 200 IM title, Jurries captured the 100-yard breaststroke championship, the fourth straight year she did so. She became just the ninth Arizona swimmer in the past 50 years to win the same event four times and had no idea of the exclusive club until the day before the finals.
“I was watching back the prelims and the announcer was yelling it during the race,” Jurries said. “That was really cool because it’s a feat not a lot of people have accomplished.”
Jurries is in the unique position of not knowing what events she will swim in college. She is a standout at the individual medley and breaststrokes, but can also excel in the butterfly. She is also toying with different distances.
Jurries hasn’t yet picked a school, but wants to find a coach and team to which she feels a great connection.
And like most top-tier swimmers, a shot at the Summer Olympics in 2016 would be a dream come true.
“I was such a nerd watching the Olympics (this summer),” she said. “World travel definitely intrigues me, and if I can use swimming to get to that kind of level, why not shoot for the national team? That would be so, so cool.”
All-Tribune First Team
Name Yr. School Event Comment
Victoria Toris So. Pinnacle 50 Freestyle Won state and finished with automatic All-America time
Samantha Getzen Jr. Notre Dame 100 Freestyle Won D2 in this event and 100 Fly
Kat Simonovic Sr. Mountain View 200 Freestyle Tenth AZ swimmer to win same event four times; also won 100 fly
Isabel Whited Fr. Pinnacle 500 Freestyle Won state title by more than six seconds
Briana Jurries Sr. Valley Christian 200 IM Won D-II, faster than any D-I swimmer; also won 100 breast
Clara Jenck Sr. Mountain Pointe 100 Backstroke Won this event and 200 IM in D-I
Madeline Wells Sr. Xavier 100 Breaststroke Top E.V. D-I finisher at state
Kyra Tatlow Jr. Westwood Diving Won Division I championship
Swimmer of the Year: Brianna Jurries, Valley Christian
Coach of the Year: Laura Spinn, Pinnacle: The Pioneers finished second to Xavier in Division I.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name Yr. School Event Comment
Samantha Fazio So. Pinnacle 50 Free Third in D-I
Kathleen Mulligan Sr. Xavier 100 Freestyle Second-fastest in state; 2nd in 100 back
Meredith Klosterman Jr. Notre Dame 200 Free Third in D-2; also third in 500 Free
Kendra Griffin Sr. Pinnacle 500 Free Second to Whited in D-I race
Sarah Takach So. Horizon 200 IM Second to Jenck in D-I
Madeline Nichols So. Desert Vista 100 Back Third in D-I
Ashley Grijalva Jr. Gilbert 100 Breast Third in D-I
Maddy Brandt Jr. Xavier 100 Fly Fourth in D-I
Cassi Blakeman So. Red Mountain Diving Second to Tatlow in D-I
Campo Verde: Baylee Stipp, Fr., diving; Desert Mountain: Katie Shannahan, So., 200 IM; Morgan White, Sr., diving; Hamilton: Madi Mullins, Fr., 100 free; Scottsdale Prep: Cecina Babich Morrow, Jr., 100 fly; Xavier: Hayden Walker, Sr., 500 free.
Memorable moments from the 2012 season
Simonovic dominates again: Kat Simonovic capped her illustrious career just about the only way she’s known how — by touching the wall first. The Mountain View senior won the 200-yard freestyle for the fourth consecutive time at the state meet, becoming just the tenth Arizona swimmer in the past 50 years to accomplish the feat. She also won the 100-yard butterfly, giving her seven individual state championships in her four years of competition. The only time Simonovic didn’t win a title at the state swim meet came as a freshman when she finished second in the 100-yard butterfly.
Xavier holds off Pinnacle: The Pioneers have some of the best individual swimmers in the state, and with many of them underclassmen, the future is bright. Sophomore Victoria Toris won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races at state, while freshman Isabel Whited won the 500-yard freestyle and finished second in the 200-free. Sophomore Samantha Fazio is another impressive young swimmer, and Pinnacle finished with 245 overall points at state. However, the Xavier program had too much depth, and while it didn’t have an individual winner (Kathleen Mulligan and Madeline Wells had second-place finishes), the Gators had plenty of girls score points to finish with 330 and another championship.