Like most athletes, Payton Sorenson says once he put his mind to it, he could accomplish his goals.
No one told his shoulder about that plan.
The 2011 Tribune Boys Swimmer of the Year was happy to be competing this fall after injuring his shoulder in the spring, keeping him from doing anything more than kicking in the water for much of the summer.
"I had to get back in, I missed all the long-course meets," the Mountain View senior said. "Seeing how it would respond was my biggest concern."
Sorenson did get back to training by the time school started, used the high school season to work out his shoulder and ended up sweeping what might be the two hardest swims at the state meet - the sprints.
"I tell myself that I can do it, then put in the hard work and did what I needed to do," Sorenson said matter-of-factly as if it were commonplace.
Hardly the case in what are, in many minds, the marquee events of a swim meet, not to mention the most competitive and least-forgiving of events. The slightest mistake can cost tenths of a second, and the difference between first and fourth place in the 50 freestyle at the state meet was less than a second. In the 100, the top three finishers were within a half-second.
Sorenson won both the 50 and 100 and then was the first leg of two winning relays during the Nov. 5 state championships at Skyline Aquatic Center. In fact, the second of those relays was a keeper. The Toros outdid a team from perennial state champion Phoenix Brophy Prep.
"We really wanted to take down Brophy," Sorenson said.
The BYU-bound aqua man got his coach's attention with his Nov. 5 performances.
"Payton and I worked since last summer on the mental preparation necessary to win both sprints," Mountain View coach Rob Ronan said. "It is extremely difficult to win both the 100 and 50 free, and even more of a challenge was to repeat as the 50 free champion. Payton's a wonderful young man and a tremendous athlete who set out to do what no public school swimmer has done since the 1970s or 80s - to win four ‘golds' at the state meet."
In the 200 medley relay - the first event at the state meet - Sorenson gave his team a one-second lead after his leg. Senior Derek Marske, junior Edgar Febres and senior Derek Buckley completed the win, nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Brophy. In the 200 freestyle relay, again Sorenson got his team a big lead. The same group in a slightly different order - Buckley, Marske, Febres - not only left their Catholic rivals well behind, but the Toros clocked in at 1:23.71, fastest in state history, .15 of a second quicker than Brophy's record set in 2004.
"For a boy to step up and not only handle the pressure but to do what he did that day was incredible," Ronan said. "The state record the 200 free relay team broke was six years old and one of the most difficult records in the state to break."
Sorenson says he merely pushed himself to be in position to win his events, although he also has perspective.
He didn't decide on a college until right after the state meet, but went into the recruiting process knowing he likely would not end up at a more visible swimming power.
He told recruiters that he wanted to compete for one year and then serve a two-year mission for his church.
"A lot of top-end schools aren't going to hold a scholarship for two years," Sorenson said. "But it was more important to make sure I was going to the right place."
He was in the right place this season, ending up atop the podium a whopping four times during the biggest meet of all.
All-Tribune First Team
Name Yr. School Event Comment
Payton Sorenson Sr. Mountain View 50 Free Two-time state champion and part of two winning relay teams
Gabriel Espinosa Jr. Brophy 100 Free Second place in both sprints
Lukas Williams Jr. Brophy 200 Free Second in 200 and 500 freestyle races
Chris Webb Sr. Brophy 500 Free Won event in automatic all-American time; also won 200 free
Brandon Hughes Sr. Desert Mtn. 200 IM Tied for first with Tucson swimmer
Alex Schultz Jr. Gilbert 100 Back Won state, had fastest prelim time in 100 fly
Michael Nelson Sr. Brophy 100 Breast Flirted with state record at Div. I meet in winning title
Nathan Anderson Sr. Arcadia 100 Fly Won Division II title and took second in 200 IM
Hayden Sells Sr. Arcadia Diving Won Division II by more than 50 points for second straight state title
Swimmer of the Year: Payton Sorenson, Mountain View
Coach of the Year: Rob Ronan, Mountain View: Brought together a group that won two of three relays and finished a strong second place in Division I.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name Yr. School Event Comment
Jack Poupore Jr. Notre Dame 50 Free Easily won Division II event
Seth Maddy Jr. Mesquite 100 Free Fastest prelim time, third in finals
Ben Gustafson Sr. Arcadia 200 Free Second in Division II in both distance swims
Ben Fitch Jr. Mountain Pointe 500 Free Third in Division I
Kyle Ewoldt Fr. Highland 200 IM Second-fastest prelim time, finished third at state
Hunter Thompson Sr. Pinnacle 100 Back Second in Division I
Derek Marske Sr. Mountain View 100 Breast Second in Division I
Edgar Febres Sr. Mountain View 100 Fly Fifth in Division I but his time would have won Division II
Bryce Farabee Sr. Highland Diving Routed competition at state in winning by 28 points
Derek Buckley, Sr., Mountain View, 100 Free; Joseph Starkweather, So., Notre Dame, 200 Free; Eli McMullen, Jr., Desert Mountain, diving; Sheldon Solomon, Jr., Queen Creek, diving