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High school swimming: Brighton takes commanding state meet lead

PROVO — Brighton's boys swimming team may have entered this weekend's 5A state meet as the classification's defending champ and as a big favorite to repeat.

But the Bengals were still nervous.

Very nervous.

Forced to deal with the jangling nerves and wild emotions that accompany this or any state swim meet, it took the Bengals a while on Day 1 to settle down.

But after looking tight in the day's opening event, the 200 medley relay — which Brighton won with a time of 1:38.01 — the Bengals found ways to simply calm down and race.

And when that happened, they did what they needed to do.

Brighton's boys team recorded the best times in eight of its 11 individual boys races on Friday to top the Day 1 standings with 130 points, 48 ahead of Skyline (82), 58 ahead of American Fork (72), 62 ahead of Alta (68) and 63.5 ahead of Bingham (66.5).

More importantly, the Bengals swam 16 points ahead of their projected total to extend their virtual lead over American Fork to 111 points and their virtual lead over Bingham to 143.5 points.

"The boys have had a great meet," said Brighton coach Todd Etherington.

The second portion of the 5A meet will begin at noon today inside the Richards Building at BYU.

On Day 1, three of the state's top individual swimmers all showed what they can do, as Brighton senior Robby Miner won the 200 freestyle, American Fork senior McKay King won the 200 IM and Brighton freshman Long Gutierrez won the 50 freestyle.

Miner and King both broke 5A records in their events — Miner went 1:41.13 in the 200 free and King went 1:54.66 to narrowly beat his own 5A record in the IM — and Gutierrez, who's just 14, finished with a really fast time of 21.46 in the 50 free.

All three swims were extremely fun for the packed house inside the Richards Building to watch, and of the three, it was Miner's 1:41.13 that scored the most power points (149) in the battle for 5A boys Swimmer of the Meet.

Afterward, Etherington was happy to see his swimmer go fast.

"He did what he's been training to do, and it's just nice in his case to see somebody put something together and make it happen," said Etherington.

For his part, Miner, who will swim the 500 free today, was thrilled with all the preparation he put in leading up to Friday.

"This year, I felt like I really put in the time and effort that I really should've," he said. "Not that I was slacking off on previous years, but I felt like I could work harder. And this year I really felt like I worked as hard and as smart as I could, and it paid off."