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High school boys swimming: A year full of firsts concludes with American Fork winning its first 6A state title

American Fork swimmers celebrate their team win during the 6A boys swim championship at Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center in Kearns on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
American Fork swimmers celebrate their team win during the 6A boys swim championship at Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center in Kearns on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Last year, the American Fork boys had to observe as the girls from their school hoisted the state championship trophy. While they were happy and excited for their female counterparts, the moment motivated them to follow the footsteps of the girls and hoist the trophy themselves.

At Saturday night’s boys 6A state swim meet in Kearns, the Cavemen finally took their opportunity. The title is the first in program history and comes on the heels of the boys winning their first ever region championship as well.

American Fork head coach Kathy King said that the support her boys provided the girls in their success prepared them to succeed themselves.

“For so long the boys have stood by and watched the girls get the glory,” said King. “They had been supportive and had no animosity whatsoever, but now the girls get to provide them that same support. I stress that we’re a family and we live like that.”

American Fork won the meet with a total of 216 points. Westlake finished just behind the Cavemen with 203 points and Corner Canyon took third with 181 points.

With seven teams over 150 points, the competition was fairly balanced throughout the night. Bingham senior Tanner Nelson, however, was the individual star of the meet.

Nelson finished first in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, both in state record time. Nelson finished the 500 freestyle with a staggering time of 4:30.06, nearly eight seconds faster than the second-place time.

Nelson said that it was his individual goals that drove him to have such dominating success in certain events.

“Since the beginning of the season I’ve had my mind set on those goals,” Nelson said. “I knew what my goal times were, so I just kept training and pushing through, so when it came to moments like tonight, I knew the training that I put in would pay off somehow.”

The Cavemen won the title despite only winning one event, Caleb Wynn in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:56.92. King said that her team showed great depth and focus in gathering the necessary points.

“I told them that we did not need to win anything necessarily, but that if we could pull together as a band of brothers, we could create the opportunity we needed,” said King.

Trailing by 13 points heading into the 400 freestyle relay, the final event of the night, the American Fork relay group of Wynn, Davis Miller, Cole Ehat and Scott Buker finished in 6th place, clinching the points they needed to call the trophy their own.

The back of the shirt King wore at the meet featured a quote from Kobe Bryant that said, “Everything negative is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

King said that the quote was a perfect motto for her boys in a season that was surrounded with negativity and all kinds of uncertainty.

“We stressed from the start that it wasn’t going to be a normal year,” said King. “We ended up having half our meets canceled, our facility shut down for five weeks and we couldn’t practice as a team, but we decided once and for all that we weren’t going to let this defeat us and we were going to make the most of this.”

King also stressed that this season has taught her boys and many athletes across the state valuable lessons that they can carry on in their adult life.

“Twenty years down the road, these athletes are going to look back and say, ‘I made it through that, so why can’t I do this?’”, said King. “That’s just what adversity does for us.”

6A boys state swim meet

Saturday’s final results

200 medley relay

1. Westlake (Ethan Brown, Nick Anderson, Brandyn Blackwood, Cameron Barney), 1:36.65

2. Jordan, 1:37.34

3. Corner Canyon, 1:37.90

4. Kearns, 1:39.15

5. Syracuse, 1:41.24

6. American Fork, 1:41.70

7. Bingham, 1:44.61

8. Davis, DQ

200 freestyle

1. Tanner Nelson, Bingham, 1:38.39 (state record)

2. Landry Hill, Pleasant Grove, 1:41.67

3. Yan Dvoretskiy, West, 1:42.48

4. Easton Smith, 1:45.95

5. Kanyon Page, Syracuse, 1:47.41

6. Scott Buker, American Fork, 1:48.10

7. Wesley Ryan, Kearns, 1:49.97

8. Ethan Bangerter, Corner Canyon, 1:50.75

200 individual medley

1. Caleb Wynn, American Fork, 1:56.92

2. Ethan Brown, Westlake, 1:58.37

3. Sohnnie Wesemann, Cyprus, 1:58.63

4. McKay Larsen, Corner Canyon, 1:58.77

5. Jes Day, American Fork, 2:00.40

6. Nick Anderson, Westlake, 1:59.65

7. Domingo Contreras, West, 2:00.13

8. Joseph Biesinger, Kearns, 2:03.18

50 freestyle

1. Cameron Barney, Westlake, 21.28

2. Angel Nunez-lanza, Hunter, 21.51

3. Sam Carlson, Davis, 21.70

4. Trevor Arnes, Layton, 22.08

5. Jake Moes, Herriman, 22.20

6. Alec Flockhart, Kearns, 22.35

7. Sawyer Portillo, Syracuse, 22.44

8. Joseph Goldhardt, Herriman, 22.58

100 butterfly

1. Karson Spencer, Corner Canyon, 51.53

2. Cameron Barney, Westlake, 52.32

3. Josue Quispe, Jordan, 52.77

4. Caleb Wynn, American Fork, 53.26

5. Trevor Arnes, Layton, 54.29

6. Isaac Brockbank, Jordan, 53.95

7. Braden Fairbanks, Pleasant Grove, 54.22

8. Luke Deller, Davis, 55.40

100 freestyle

1. Landry Hill, Pleasant Grove, 46.42

2. Sam Carlson, Davis, 48.14

3. Alec Flockhart, Kearns, 48.19

4. Joseph Goldhardt, Herriman, 48.31

5. Ben Landheim, Davis, 48.87

6. Brayden Littlefield, Davis, 49.10

7. Nate Church, Weber, 49.31

8. Jakob Langenbacher, Layton, 50.11

500 freestyle

1. Tanner Nelson, Bingham, 4:30.06 (state record)

2. Yan Dvoretskiy, West, 4:37.89

3. Scott Buker, American Fork, 4:52.67

4. Ethan Lawrence, Kearns, 4:53.05

5. Jes Day, American Fork, 4:53.61

6. Easton Smith, Riverton, 4:54.05

7. Robs Barton, Jordan, 4:56.54

8. Ethan Murray, Herriman, 5:01.60

200 freestyle relay

1. Pleasant Grove (Nate Anderson, cayden Farris, Braden Fairbanks, Landry Hill) 1:28.54

2. Westlake, 1:28.86

3. Herriman, 1:29.35

4. Davis, 1:29.45

5. Corner Canyon, 1:29.56

6. Kearns, 1:31.33

7. Hunter, 1:31.33

8. American Fork, 1:33.35

100 backstroke

1. Kanyon Page, Syracuse, 51.70

2. Josue Quispe, Jordan, 51.81

3. Angel Nunez-lanza, Hunter, 52.29

4. Ethan Brown, Westlake, 53.09

5. Brandyn Blackwood, Westlake, 53.16

6. Domingo Contreras, West, 53.27

7. Davis Miller, American Fork, 54.46

8. Karson Spencer, Corner Canyon, 55.74

100 breaststroke

1. Trent Oldham, Jordan, 57.13

2. Sohnnie Wesemann, Cyprus, 58.27

3. Joseph Biesinger, Kearns, 59.04

4. Nick Anderson, Westlake, 59.56

5. Jake Moes, Herriman, 59.66

6. Marcus Graham, Lone Peak, 1:00.65

7. McKay Larsen, Corner Canyon, 1:00.91

8. Erik Leigh, Copper Hills, 1:02.03

400 freestyle relay

1. Davis (Ben Landheim, Brayden Littlefield, Winston Mi, Sam Carlson), 3:17.32

2. Pleasant Grove, 3:20.95

3. Bingham, 3:22.22

4. West, 3:23.65

5. Corner Canyon, 3;23.14

6. American Fork, 3:21.37

7. Kearns, 3:22.00

8. Jordan, 3:23.61