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High school swimming: Strong day 1 has Brighton back on top

Janie Dahle from Cottonwood High School competes in the 200-yard individual medley Friday during the first day of the 5A state swimming championship meet in Provo.
Janie Dahle from Cottonwood High School competes in the 200-yard individual medley Friday during the first day of the 5A state swimming championship meet in Provo.
Keith Johnson, Deseret News

PROVO — The Brighton Bengals are back in business.

For two decades, the girls on the Brighton High swim team were the rulers of Utah swimming. They earned an amazing 20 consecutive team state championships between 1982 and 2001 before Skyline took over. Since then, the Eagles have built up their own mini-dynasty, capturing eight titles in a row.

Now, after the first day of competition in the 2010 state meet, the Bengals have tallied 127 points and made a strong argument for why they will again be at the top of the podium. And they've done it on the backs of freshmen.

"(There are) a lot of rookies, yes," said Brighton head coach Todd Etherington. "They started off a little tight. I think they were a little nervous for the first couple of swims that we had."

The group of underclassmen includes Elliott Sipple, who placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle, Niki Brinkerhoff and Zoey Freebairn, who each earned points in the 200 individual medley, and Maddy George, who finished 16th overall in the 50 free.

Kaitlyn Overstreet and Abby Alger, the first two legs of the Brighton 200-yard medley relay team, are also freshmen who made a solid showing for the Bengals. Along with juniors Amanda Barrett and anchor Yasmin Farahani, the medley team earned a first-place finish with a time of 1:50.18.

Barrett is a leader on the Bengals' squad and used her experiences to help ease the fears of those younger than her.

"I'm really close with a lot of the freshmen," she said. "They've come to talk to me about how they are nervous about state. I just give them inspirational things to say like my seniors did when I was a freshman." She then added, "I think it was an amazing experience for the two freshmen on my relay to win."

Along with the relay, Barrett captured an individual crown when she shaved more than two seconds off her qualifying time to finish first in the 200 free with a 1:52.85.

"Last year I did what was best for the team," Barrett said of swimming races other than her strongest events. "This year we just have so many swimmers I was able to swim my best events ... and I feel really good. Today was a good meet."

In the two final events of Day 1, Janie Dahle of Cottonwood earned a first-place finish with a time of 2:11.0, and Elizabeth Thompson of Layton outstretched the competition to capture first in the 50 free with a time of 24.53.

In the team totals, Lone Peak is just four points ahead of Alta and a huge charge from the Hawks could derail the Knights' bid for second place. The defending champion Eagles of Skyline swam well on Day 1 and also remain in the hunt.

e-mail: sthomas@desnews.com