Chaparral’s Ryan Hoffer created plenty of hype in the preliminaries of the state Division I swim meet by breaking the high-profile 50 freestyle state record on Friday.
Mark Jurek of Chandler made a statement on Saturday during the state championship meet at Skyline High School. It started with the bagpipes and included two state records.
As the top qualifier in the 200 individual medley, Jurek got to choose the music played when the top eight swimmers march in for the final race. Jurek had Chandler coach Kerry Crosswhite play “Scotland the Brave,” on the bagpipes to lead swimmers to the blocks.
“I was a little nervous before but then my coach playing the bagpipes before the race and that calmed me down, got me ready,” he said of the song, a traditional song and one of several unofficial national anthems of Scotland.
Why the bagpipes? “I don’t know, I just like to make an old man happy,” Jurek said after the medley race. He added later, “It is very different. No one else had a live performance by their coach.”
Crosswhite, who plays with a Tempe honor guard group, said Jurek had called him early Saturday and talked to him about the music.
“He was going to do some Tupac (Shakur) thing, I think and he called me and said, ‘Let’s do the bagpipes,’” Crosswhite said. “I said, ‘Okay, whatever you want, Mark.’”
So whether it was the bagpipes or the water, Jurek knocked nearly five seconds off his preliminary time and easily bested the field in the medley with an all-American time of 1:48.31, well ahead of Matt Anderson of Arcadia (1:52.74) and Alex Martinez of Basha (1:53.53).
It shattered the shared state record of 1:49.41, set in 2001 and tied in 2008.
About a half hour later, Jurek was matched up against the aforementioned Hoffer in the 100 butterfly. That was right after Hoffer had won the premier event of the day, the 50 free, in another sparkling time, just .14 seconds slower than his record swim on Friday.
In the butterfly, Hoffer had the middle lane, with Jurek right next to him and the Chander sophomore turned it on over the final lap, breaking another state record, with a time of 47.80, .07 seconds faster than Brophy’s John Wojciechowski's swim in 2008. Hoffer was second in 48.18 and Rusty Shoemaker of Mountain View in third, at 50.56. Wojciechowski is now an All-American swimmer at Michigan.
“It’s always been a close race between us and this one was mine but I know it will be close again the next time we race,” Jurek said, acknowledging he was thinking about the hype with Hoffer. “Of course it entered my mind. What you think of and what you don’t think of is the difference between winning and losing.”
Brophy won the team title, as it has every year since 1988, with 294 points. Chaparral was second with 259 and Desert Vista third at 211.
Nicholas Magana of Desert Mountain won the 100 and 200 freestyle events, both in All-American times. He took the 200 free in 1:38.86, barely ahead of Kyle Ewoldt of Highland (1:39.88). Magana won the 100 free in 44.26, a half-second in front of Connor Stirling of Cactus Shadows.
Ewoldt had a great swim in the 500 freestyle, coming in at 4:34.87, but finished just .46 seconds behind Weston Miller of Chaparral. He had a slim lead for the first half of the race, fell behind and then nearly catching Miller in the final 100 of the grueling event.
“I’m a little angry at myself for losing,” Ewoldt said. “But it was a good time, I guess. I was feeling a little tired, to be honest. I think coming off the 200 freestyle where I put up a really good time, got second there but I think I was just tired from it, just the turnaround is pretty hard.”
Austin Drummond of Chaparral won the 100 backstroke, more than 1.6 seconds ahead of Desert Mountain’s Ryan Blair. Arcadia’s Anderson won the 100 breaststroke in an All-American time of 55.44, a half-second slower than the state record he set in the event a year ago.