More titles: Brophy, Xavier still rule AZ prep swim world

Before the high school swim & dive season got underway, Brophy Prep head coach Pat O’Neill told a reporter that he was so pleased with the team’s depth this year that he believed the squad was capable of finishing first in every individual and relay event at the Division I state championships.

Well, the Broncos didn’t sweep all the events.  But they did dominate as usual.

The small Catholic school in central Phoenix piled up 344 points for the team title, well out in front of runner-up Highland High School from Gilbert, which was one of the early favorites to  top the rest of the field this year.  That’s the way the other schools have come to look at runner-up, kind of like a consolation title, since they are all essentially competing for second place each year.

This year’s state title is the 25th in a row for Brophy, and the 35th in the history of the tradition-rich program.  The Broncos will now begin looking ahead to winning this year’s computerized national championships, another goal each year.

Gabrielle Espinosa, who finished as runner-up last year in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events, won them both this year to lead Brophy to yet another state championship.  He also swam on the 200-meter and 400-meter relay teams that won titles – all of which earned him the boys’ Swimmer of the Year honors in Division I.

The relay wins avenged losses at state last year to Mesa’s Mountain View High School.

Lukas Williams added a win in the 200 freestyle for Brophy and a runner-up finish in the 500 free, while T.J. Decker took second in the 100 breaststroke.

Michael White, a senior at Dobson High School in Mesa, beat Decker in the 100 breaststroke by a mere .48 seconds and also gave the Mustangs a win in the 200-yard individual medley.

Espinosa had a close call of his own when Nicholas Magana pushed him to the brink in the 100, finishing just .67 seconds off Espinosa’s winning time of 45.04.

Highland’s runner-up finish was given a big boost by Bryce Farabee‘s individual title in the diving competition.  Alex Schultz from Gilbert High won the 100 backstroke (50.7) and Josh Olszewki from Scottsdale’s Horizon High School picked up his state title in the 500 freestyle (4:32.47).

Mountain View High School, Chaparral High, and Desert Mountain High School rounded out the boys’ top five.

On the girls’ side, Xavier Prep is still trying to catch up with its Catholic-school counterpart, as the Gators pocketed their 14th consecutive team title.  A change in coaches this year hasn’t distracted them from their annual quest for a state championship.

But their accomplishment was overshadowed somewhat by the individual efforts of a senior from Mountain View High School named Kat Simonovic.

Simonovic won individual titles in the 200 free and the 100 butterfly.  Her time of 1:47.22 in the 200 free gave her a fourth consecutive title in that event as she became just the 10th swimmer in the past 50 years to win the same event every year of her high school career.

She will add one more title to the seven state titles she has won over the year: 2012 Division I girls’ Swimmer of the Year.

Like Brophy, Xavier won going away.  The Gators collected 330 team points, well ahead of runner-up Pinnacle High School, which finished with 245 points.  Mountain View High School, Chandler High, and Desert Vista High School rounded out the top five.

Pinnacle’s second-place finish was powered by Victoria Toris, who won individual titles in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, and Isabel Whited‘s win in the 500 freestyle.

Toris, a sophomore who competed in the 200-meter backstroke at this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials, finished third in both the 50 and 100 and second in the 100 free at last year’s state championships.

Clara Jenck from Mountain Pointe High School also picked up dual titles, winning the 200 individual medley and then repeating as state champion in the 100 backstroke.

And Kyra Tatlow brought home the diving points for Westwood High School by winning that title.