Sports

BOYS SWIMMING: Kentridge's Whiting takes aim at Ironman status

Kentridge High swimmer Cameron Whiting already has qualified for the Class 4A state meet in six individual events. Whiting hopes to qualify in all eight, and remains just off the pace in his final two events - the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard backstroke.  - CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter
Kentridge High swimmer Cameron Whiting already has qualified for the Class 4A state meet in six individual events. Whiting hopes to qualify in all eight, and remains just off the pace in his final two events - the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard backstroke.
— image credit: CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter

He’s healthier than ever.

And hungrier then ever, too.

As much was evident for Kentridge High swim star Cameron Whiting on Thursday, Dec. 16 in a pivotal South Puget Sound League North Division meet against rival Kentlake.

Behind a big all-around performance by Whiting, the Chargers won 9 of 12 events to turn back the Falcons 124-64 in a meet between last season’s league co-champions. Kentlake delivered a historic run last year, serving up its first unbeaten season, going 7-0-1. The only blemish on the otherwise perfect Kentlake season was a 93-93 tie against powerhouse Kentridge on Jan. 5. That tie put an end to Kentridge’s 34-meet winning streak, though it did not end the Chargers unbeaten run.

Needless to say, the meet against Kentlake had been circled on Kentridge’s calendar for quite some time.

“These kids play water polo with a lot of the (Kentlake) boys, so they have a lot of friends there,” explained Kentridge coach Erin Schulze. “A lot of my boys were redeeming themselves (for last year), so to speak.”

Whiting, who missed last year with a broken foot, was well aware of the meet implications.

“(Last year’s loss) motivated us to try harder and swim fast,” Whiting said. “And we definitely did today.”

Of course, Whiting has been swimming fast all season long. In fact, few have been able to touch the Kentridge standout, who actually attends The Overlake School in Redmond by day, but swims for the Chargers in the afternoon because he lives in the school’s boundaries.

Against Kentlake, Whiting continued his assault on state-qualifying times. He entered the meet already having qualified in five events (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free and 100 butterfly) and added a sixth, doing so in the 200-yard individual medley. Whiting touched out in 2:04.86.

On a near flawless afternoon, Whiting’s time was fast enough to qualify for state in the event, but not fast enough to beat Kentlake star Erik Fulmer, who won the event in 2:04.82. As such, Fulmer, a sophomore, also qualified for state.

Along with the second-place, state-qualifying finish, Whiting also won the 100 backstroke (1:00.38) and anchored both of Kentridge’s winning relay teams (200 and 400).

With the win, Kentridge moved to 4-0 in league competition and is on a collision course with another SPSL North title. The Chargers have won — or shared — the last five league titles. In addition, they entered the holiday break on a 43-meet unbeaten streak.

And while Whiting certainly has had a hand in Kentridge’s success (he qualified for state as a freshman and sophomore before missing last year), there’s plenty of other pieces to this puzzle of success as well. One of those pieces against Kentlake included freshman Chase Bublitz, who won the 100 butterfly (55.93) and also swam Kentridge’s opening leg of the 200-yard free relay and 200-yard medley relay. Meanwhile, Matt Drui added a first-place finish in diving (172.80), Dallin Connell chipped in a victory in the 500 free (5:21.45) and Tim Berquist swam away with the win in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.42). And, as always, Kentridge’s relay teams — a combination of Connell, Whiting, Bublitz, Berquist, Jake Dacus, Tristian Rosellini and Kyle Bige — were as rock-solid as ever, securing victories in the 200-yard free relay (1:36.19) and the 400-free relay (3:34.16).

The return of Whiting, however, has proven to be the key to putting the Chargers back on top this winter.

Missing last year with a broken foot that was suffered during a freak accident was tough to swallow, the 17-year-old senior said.

“I was running down the hallway playing with our dog and kicked something as hard as I could,” explained Whiting, noting that he was not wearing shoes at the time of the accident. “I broke my toe and had to wear a boot. It was really frustrating (missing the season), but it was a good time for me to focus on dry land, just lifting weights and stuff that didn’t involve my foot.”

It proved to be a whirlwind year for Whiting, who opened the fall attending a California school, returned to the area before swim season, but injured the foot the night before the first practice. Without Whiting, Kentridge remained strong, but certainly was missing a key cog to its already potent swim machine.

“We really missed his presence last year,” Schulze said.

Whiting qualified for state as a freshman and sophomore, however, was unable to compete the second time around due to a family commitment.

Now that it has been two years since his last state appearance, Whiting has big goals this time around.

“First and foremost, I’d say my goal is to get an Ironman award,” explained Whiting, noting that the award goes to swimmers who qualify for state in all eight individual events. “I want to make state in all events.”

The only two Whiting has remaining to cross off of his list are the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke.

With four meets to go, he has the time and motivation to make it 8-for-8.

And, unlike last year, he has his health, too.

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