High School Sports

Service boys swimmers are primed to dominate the lanes again, while Eagle River girls are on the rise

The high school swimming and diving season in Alaska only lasts about three months from early August to early November.

However, for several swimmers on the reigning state champion Service boys team, the dedication to honing their craft is a year-round task.

“A lot of the kids that don’t swim year round are just now starting to get into swimming shape, so it gives them a little bit of a head start,” Service coach Ben Kitchen said.

The Cougars are led this year by junior Benjamin Price and senior Conrad Fawcett, who are returning individual state champions and are both members of the Northern Lights Swim Club where they train and compete throughout the rest of the year.

“It’s great to have them as role models for the rest of the team and our beginners as well as their individual successes,” said Kitchen, who also coaches them for the Northern Light Swim Club.

Service showed up and showed out on the boys side at the annual Big Eight Invitational at Bartlett on Saturday. The meet featured a ninth team this year since Wasilla was also in attendance.

The Cougars finished first at state in the 200-medley relay and both Price and Fawcett helped them do the same on Saturday as the first leg and anchor, finishing in first place with a time of 1:39.33.


That was only the beginning of what would be a strong day of the two of them and boys team as a whole as Service who had 10 individuals or relay teams with top three finishes. Team scores weren’t tallied at the meet.

“It’s been fantastic,” Kitchen said. “Usually we expect there to be some mistakes and errors toward the beginning of the season but we’ve been really clean. The (coaching) staff has been really impressed with how the team is executing so early in the season.”

Price is the state champion in the boys Individual medley but is looking to “diversify” his options this year and is off to a good start as he finished first in the boys 200-yard freestyle and boys 100-yard freestyle.

Price is still plotting his course for the rest of the season.

“Throughout the rest of the season, I’m going to keep seeing where I want to put my energy,” he said. “I might be doing the 100 backstroke or the 100 butterfly. My favorite events to swim are my 100 freestyle and 200 IM.”

The first individual event that Fawcett won was the 200 IM with a mark of 2:04.42.

“I’m really happy with it and wanted to go out and see what I can do and have fun,” he said.

Fawcett’s favorite event is the 500 freestyle, a race in which he is the boys state champion. The senior finished first in that event as well Saturday with a time of 4:54.22 and is “pretty confident” that he’ll be able to successfully defend his title come November.

“I like distance swimming,” he said. “I’m going to take it meet by meet and focus on the practices everyday.”

The consistently high energy level at practice along with a talented overall group has Fawcett “super excited” for their chances to repeat this season.

“It would be pretty amazing to win twice in a row and to three-peat in my career would be pretty awesome,” he said. “I think we can do it.”

On the winning 200-yard freestyle team, Price and Fawcett joined forces with Preston Kwon, who finished first in the boys 100-yard breaststroke (56.24) and second in the boys 50-yard freestyle (22.73).

“We have a pretty solid core group of people that will hopefully be going to state this year,” Price said.

Eagle River’s Wolf pack on the rise

One of the most impressive results on the girls side was the Eagle River girls 200-yard medley relay team edging out defending state champion Dimond. The Wolves topped the Lynx by nearly five seconds with a mark of 1:54.99 to 1:59.76.

“It was pretty cool,” Eagle River swimmers Bryn Baldwin and Sophia Trembath said in unison.

Sisters Lola and Reese Woodward swam the first and third leg while Baldwin swam the second breaststroke leg and Trembath was the anchor and swam freestyle.

“Lola got the good lead and I couldn’t see anyone else on the breaststroke and feel like I got us a little bit further,” Baldwin said. “Reese is so good at butterfly that she really put us over and Sophia brought us home.”


They both view the notable win over such a quality opponent at a nine-team meet as a “huge” confidence booster that will hopefully propel them through the rest of the season.

Reese Woodward also finished first in the girls 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:03.02, and her sister Lola came in first in the girls 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.26. Eagle River’s Sophia Sidgman finished second in the girls 1-meter diving with a mark of 177.45, and Trembath finished third in the girls 200-yard IM with a time of 2:27.34.

The Woodward sisters finished first and second in the girls 500 freestyle and they helped the girls 200 freestyle relay team finish first as well with a time of 1:42.83.

Eagle River didn’t have enough girls to field a full team last year but still managed to finish tied for fifth place with Juneau-Douglas at state. Through club team connections, they were able increase their numbers to 12 this year which has helped them be more competitive with each other and other teams.

“Our coaches for our club team also coach our high school team, so all the kids that were in club and coming into high school knew about the high school team and were interested,” Trembath said.

Big Eight Invitational

Saturday at Bartlett High School

Girls 200 Yard Medley Relay

1. Eagle River (Lola Woodward, Bryn Baldwin, Reese Woodward, Sophia Trembath), 1:54.99. 2. Dimond, 1:59.76. 3. South, 2:02.37.


Boys 200 Yard Medley Relay

1. Service (Ben Price, Jan Beck, Preston Kwon, Conrad Fawcett), 1:39.33. 2. Eagle River, 1:44.01. 3. Dimond, 1:44.13.

Girls 200 Yard Freestyle

1. Reese Woodward, Eagle River, 2:03.02. 2. Paige Antrobus, Dimond, 2:07.00. 3. Molly Wirschem, East, 2:07.70.

Boys 200 Yard Freestyle

1. Ben Price, Service, 1:48.47. 2. Will McKinley, Dimond, 1:50.65. 3. Chris Michael, Chugiak, 1:51.29.

Girls 200 Yard IM

1. Caroline Waters, Dimond, 2:16.47. 2. Megan McLaughlin, South, 2:20.79. 3. Sophia Trembath, Eagle River, 2:27.34.

Boys 200 Yard IM

1. Conrad Fawcett, Service, 2:04.42. 2. Eli Rumph, Eagle River, 2:13.28. 3. Roman Fosberg, Dimond, 2:13.93.

Girls 50 Yard Freestyle

1. Lola Woodward, Eagle River, 25.26. 2. Elizabeth Bingham, South, 25.87. 3. Mia Sperbeck, Dimond, 26.19.


Boys 50 Yard Freestyle

1. Wes Mank, Eagle River, 22.21. 2. Preston Kwon, Service, 22.73. 3. Tyson Morgan, Chugiak, 22.94.

Girls 1 Meter Diving

1. Faith Colman, Service, 223.60, 2. Sophia Sidgman, Eagle River, 177.45, Kensley Denmon, Service, 176.55

Boys 1 Meter Diving

1. Travis Thornton, Wasilla, 238.15. 2. Calvin Musgrave, Wasilla, 224.65. Roman Billings, Dimond, 218.95.


Girls 100 Yard Butterfly

1. Caroline Waters, Dimond, 1:00.41. 2. Kalea Davis, Chugiak, 1:05.52. 3. Jaelin Burrell, Chugiak, 1:08.23.

Boys 100 Yard Butterfly

1. Samuel Randall, Dimond, 56.62. 2. Chris Michael, Chugiak, 57.54. 3. Andy Zhang, Dimond, 59.58.

Girls 100 Yard Freestyle

1. Charlotte Griffith, South, 56.23. 2. Molly Wirschem, East, 56.99. 3. Mia Sperbeck, Dimond, 57.70.

Boys 100 Yard Freestyle

1. Ben Price, Service, 47.53. 2. Tyson Morgan, Chugiak, 49.95. 3. Caeden Kullander, Dimond, 50.11.

Girls 500 Yard Freestyle

1. Lola Woodward, Eagle River, 5:28.11. 2. Reese Woodward, Eagle River, 5:39.25. 3. Paige Antrobus, Dimond, 5:43.44.

Boys 500 Yard Freestyle

1. Conrad Fawcett, Service, 4:54.22. 2. Jan Beck, Service, 4:55.08. 3. Dean Toole, Eagle River, 5:21.99.

Girls 200 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Eagle River (Reese Woodward, Lelaina Trembath, Sophia Trembath, Lola Woodward), 1:42.83. 2. Dimond, 1:45.58. 3. South, 1:45.94.

Boys 200 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Service (Ben Price, Jan Beck, Preston Kwon, Conrad Fawcett), 1:31.32. 2. Eagle River, 1:32.82. 3. Chugiak, 1:32.84.

Girls 100 Yard Backstroke

1. Zoe Fencil, South , 1:02.24. 2. Zoe Zipsir, South, 1:08.28. 3. Hannah Katchen, Service, 1:09.14.

Boys 100 Yard Backstroke

1. Wes Mank, Eagle River, 54.01. 2. Will McKinley, Dimond, 55.67. 3. Amadrion Reynier-Wilson, Eagle River, 1:08.54.

Girls 100 Yard Breaststroke

1. Megan McLaughlin, South , 1:10.03. 2. Anna Brooks, Service, 1:14.55. 3. Maya Solomonson, Eagle River, 1:16.56.

Boys 100 Yard Breaststroke

1. Preston Kwon, Service, 56.24. 2. Jan Beck, Service, 1:01.52. 3. Eli Rumph, Eagle River, 1:02.35.

Girls 400 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Dimond (Mia Sperbeck, Caroline Waters, Paige Antrobus, Holly Dittman), 3:52.73. 2. South, 4:01.64. 3. South, 4:02.27.

Boys 400 Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Chugiak (Chris Michael, Packer Lowell, Blake Fazio, Tyson Morgan), 3:23.24. 2. Dimond, 3:27.26. 3. Eagle River, 3:37.89.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.