High school swimming: Twin sisters seal 5A state title for Viewmont's girls team

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15 2014 10:15 p.m. MST

Girls compete in the 500-yard freestyle during the Class 5A State Swimming meet in Provo Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — Two full days of competition. Nine of 11 events in the books. It all came down to two young sophomores for Viewmont Saturday at the 5A swimming championships.

Twin sisters Mariah and Mckenna Gassaway approached the starting blocks for the 100-yard breaststroke with a state championship hanging in the balance. Their team held a slight lead over Lone Peak entering the race, and a strong finish by both would seal the Vikings' win. A substandard performance would put the championship up for grabs entering the 400-yard freestyle relay — the final race of the competition.

Were they nervous?

"Oh, they were nervous. There were almost tears before they got up there because they knew they had to perform or we might get beat," answered Viewmont coach Steve Doman. "But we believed in both of them. We knew going in that it might come down to both of them and we liked our chances if that was the case."

Indeed, Doman's belief in the young twins was validated when Mariah touched the wall first with a time of 1:04.23. Mckenna ended up about 1 1/2 seconds behind to finish third.

Meet over. Championship secured.

"It was such an amazing feeling after the race knowing that we did it," Mariah said. "I was so thankful to do it with my sister there by me. I'm just so happy right now because we did it. We came through. We all came through today."

As one could imagine, the twins are pretty competitive, and taking second to a twin sister can be a bittersweet experience.

"I love it, but I also hate racing against my sister," Mckenna said. "It's great competition for me, but we're obviously competitive against each other. I didn't have my best race today, but I'm so happy for Mariah and for the team."

Mckenna didn't have much time to rest following the race with the 400-yard freestyle relay next up. She swam the second leg in that race and helped secure a third-place finish to give the Vikings the championship with 305 team points to Lone Peak's 293. Brighton finished third with 239.5.

While it was the twins who sealed the championship, it took the entire team to make it happen.

"We didn't have a lot of girls win, but we always placed high and all three relay teams really pulled through," Doman said. "I'm just so proud of every single one of them for the work they've put in, the obstacles they've overcome, and it's just an amazing feeling right now."

Nine is enough

If you enter the state championships with just nine swimmers you need all of them to perform. Fortunately for Brighton, it got just that from one of the smaller groups Bengal coach Todd Etherington has ever fielded for a state championship meet.

Brighton took the boys championship Saturday with 248.5 combined points. Lehi (219) took second, Lone Peak (211) third and Viewmont (210) fourth.

"This was one of the smallest, if not the smallest, groups I've ever brought here and to win it we had to have every single one of them pull through," Etherington said. "All nine of them stepped up and did exactly what we needed to win today. I'm proud of their effort and it's great to win another championship for Brighton."

When asked which specific swimmers stepped up most, Etherington was at a loss for words.

"I really can't pinpoint one, two or even three guys among the nine of them," he said. "It seriously took all nine of them equally to get this done and I really can't think of one's contribution that was greater than the other."