Truckee boys swim to state title, girls claim second

The Truckee boys’ swim team is again the fastest squad in the state.

The Wolverines swam to a second consecutive state championship on Saturday at the Carson Aquatic Facility, besting Southern League rivals Boulder City.

On the girls’ side, Truckee finished as runners-up, nearly toppling the perennial state champions, Boulder City.

“This team is a true team,” said Head Coach Jody Burrill following the meet. “They work together, they cheer everyone on … everybody’s important on this team, not just the top.”

Sophomore standouts

Truckee sophomores Kaikea Crews and Emma Purdy have been among the best swimmers in the state all season long, and during the meet were named Class 3A swimmers of the year by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

Truckee sophomores Kaikea Crews and Emma Purdy have been among the best swimmers in the state all season long, and during the meet were named Class 3A swimmers of the year by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

Kaikea Crews and Emma Purdy were named Class 3A swimmers of the year
Justin Scacco /

The two led the Wolverines at the state championship meet, winning a pair of individual gold medals.

Crews set a state record at the meet, regardless of class, in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing the event with a time of 44.99 seconds.

“It was a good swim,” said Crews. “It’s still a little bit off my best, (but) I’m happy with the 44.”

Crews went on to break his own state record in the 100-yard backstroke, touching the wall with a time of 48.69.

Crews posted National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Swimming All-America times in both events.

Crews was also on Truckee’s winning 200-yard medley relay team. He closed the meet by anchoring the Wolverines’ 400-yard freestyle relay team, and nearly made up a significant gap between Truckee and race winners, Boulder City, during the final 100 yards.

“This meet is awesome … I get to race with my best friends, and just race our hearts out for our team,” said Crews.

“Boulder City is no joke. I’m bummed that I lost, but at the same time I’m happy for them, that they got us in that. It was a big battle. It’s always fun getting into a race like that”

The school’s other sophomore standout, Purdy, left the meet with three gold medals and a silver in her four events.

Purdy won the team’s first individual event of the meet with a first-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle, touching the wall with a time of 24.92.

“The 50 is such a complicated race. There’s so many different components to it and if you have one mistake it really costs you the entire race,” said Purdy.

“Going into it, I just tried to be as focused and as calm as possible, so that I could perform my best under pressure.”

Purdy later won the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 54.44, edging the field by nearly two seconds.

She also helped propel the girls’ 200-yard freestyle team a first-place finish, and was on the runner-up 400-yard freestyle team.

“The team, overall, swam really well in our relays,” said Purdy. “All of the girls, we came together and we definitely swam hard.”

‘The 50 free is in the Truckee bloodline’

Truckee senior Evan Opsal brought the team its other individual gold of the meet, and gave the Wolverines a sweep of 50-yard freestyle, finishing first in the race with a time of 22.88.

“Before the blocks I knew that I was the first seed, and that was the first time that’s ever happened,” said Opsal. “It didn’t feel real, and my heart was beating so fast. I just had to focus, and I took out my first 25 (yards) pretty fast — not as fast as I would’ve liked — but my last 25 (yards) definitely split the field apart. I’m happy with that last half of the race.”

Opsal, who often competes in triathlons, began as a distance swimmer at Truckee, before later transitioning to the 50-yard freestyle.

“I kind of just discovered my fast twitch over the years as I matured and got bigger and stronger,” said Opsal. “I got faster and faster, and mentally, it’s nice just to have a shorter distance … training for triathlons, the long distance swims during the summer kind of set it up for a good distance season, but as I was swimming during the season I kind of found my rhythm in the 50 free and the 100 fly. That’s what I stuck with, and it turned out really good.”

Opsal’s win marked the fourth year in a row the Wolverines have won the 50-yard freestyle. Truckee alumnus Cooper de Ryk won the past three state titles in the event.

“It’s really cool continuing with my friends’ legacies,” said Opsal. “Between my friend from Incline Kate (Rye) on the girls’ side, Emma Purdy, Cooper, and then my friend Gavin (Olsen) got second in it last year, it’s awesome to keep it alive. The 50 free is in the Truckee bloodline.”

Opsal was also on the first-place 200-yard medley relay team, and helped the 400-yard freestyle team to a second-place finish. Individually, he finished second in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 54.44.

Also on the boys’ side, senior Noah Warren swam to a third-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:53.40. Warren also swam to a bronze medal in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing with a time of 5:11.34. He was part of Truckee’s second-place 200-yard freestyle relay team and second-place 400-yard freestyle relay team as well.

Truckee junior Aaron Bronstone was third in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:10.78. Bronstone later took third in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:05.13. Bronstone was also on Truckee’s winning 200-yard medley relay team and on the boys’ second-place 200-yard freestyle team.

Truckee junior Dylan Cole was second in the 400-yard freestyle with a time of 51.67.

Senior Jack Keith picked up a silver medal as part of Truckee’s 200-yard freestyle team. Freshman Diego Rodriguez was on the team as well.

The Truckee boys’ captured the state championship with a high score of 135 points to edge Boulder City by eight points.

“This year is particularly challenging for me with the senior boys (Opsal, Warren, and Keith), because they all started with me as non-club swimmers,” said Coach Burrill on Truckee’s three departing seniors. “They just rose and started swimming club their sophomore or junior years and just took off from there … and then here, Evan wins, and Noah swam out of his mind, he swam so fast. It’s just incredible.”

Truckee girls finish second

The Lady Wolverines combined to score 135 points for second place, finishing 11 points behind state champions Boulder City.

Ultimately, the championship hinged on the first race of the afternoon, the 400-yard freestyle relay, which ended in disqualification for the Wolverines.

“It could happen to anybody,” said Coach Burrill on the race. “It’s nobody’s fault, it just happened.”

The girls, however, rebounded in a big way, battling back to secure a second-place finish. In the next event, freshman Alyssa Hynes (2:05.87), junior Megan Darzynkiewicz (2:05.88), and sophomore AnnElise Cuneo (2:08.79) finished second through fourth, respectively, in the 200-yard freestyle. Cuneo later raced to a second-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:39.46.

Later in the meet, sophomore Caitlin Smith turned the 100-yard butterfly into a battle for first place, but was edged down the final 25 yards by Boulder City senior Rose Pouch. Smith would touch the wall with a time of 57.43 to break her own school record in the event. She went on to claim second in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:11.07, and was on Truckee’s first-place 200-yard freestyle team, which finished more than eight seconds ahead of second-place North Tahoe with a time of 1:41.47. Smith was also on the second-place 400-yard freestyle relay team.

Truckee freshman Brooke Saathoff was on the 200-yard freestyle relay team as well, and individually, finished third in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:03.09. Saathoff picked up a silver medal as part of Truckee’s 400-yard freestyle relay team.

Sophomore Riley Madigan brought Truckee a second-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke, touching the wall with a time of 1:01.81. Madigan also earned a silver medal on the 400-yard freestyle relay team.

Junior Courtney Engberg helped propel the girls to a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

In diving, Truckee junior Kira Thomas captured gold, scoring 352.25 points as the Class 3A girls’ only diver at the meet in Carson Valley.

The Truckee swim team concluded the 2018-19 season as boys and girls’ Northern League champions, boys’ state champions, and girls’ runners-up.

“Everyone on this team is important,” said Coach Burrill. “And that’s one of the biggest things I’ve always pushed for. We’re not a one-man show. We’ve worked really hard to make this team feel inclusive. Everybody’s welcome.

“We’ve had kids that couldn’t even put their faces in the water, and by the end they’re in states earning points for their team. I’m so proud of them, as much as our top swimmers.”

North Tahoe claims four podium finishes

North Tahoe also had a handful of swimmers competing at the meet.

Freshman Sydney Whisler captured third place in the girls’ 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.62.

The girls’ 200-yard freestyle relay team of junior Casey Garrity, sophomore Delila Quinn, freshman Marina Hendricks, and Whisler finished second with a time of 1:50.08.

Junior Hunter Hoffman was third in the boys’ 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.93, and third in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.69.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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