PROVO — Natalie Bennion took a familiar walk to the top of the podium amidst cheers from a roaring crowd on Saturday at the 4A state swim meet. The senior set out to carry on the Bennion legacy, needing a 100-yard freestyle victory to not only defend her 2011 title, but to defend the Bennion family's 2009 and 2010 titles won by her older sister.
"It's kind of a Bennion thing and that was the pressure for me," she said with a smile.
The high-achieving Eagle was able to take the event with a time of 52.18. She earned the individual title in the 50-yard freestyle on Friday, and finished out Saturday's meet with victories in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. Bennion finished off her high school career as anchor in the final relay (400-yard freestyle) of the meet.
"It was just exhilarating," she said. "It was my last race of the high school season. It was fun to finish with the big win."
Bennion wasn't the only Eagle making waves. Skyline took home several individual and relay titles, taking the meet by a landslide with 458.5 points. Woods Cross finished second with 235 points.
Skyline teammate Lillian Moore saw great success at the meet as well, picking up an individual title in the 100-yard butterfly and proving to be a crucial member of both the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays.
The Eagles notched first-place finishes in both.
Contributing to the reign was Skyline head coach Joe Pereira. Pereira took home two trophies of his own as he was named "Coach of the Year" for both the girls and boys.
"Our coach is really great," Bennion said. "He knows how to push us to be better."
Despite the well-deserved praise, coach Pereira accepted the awards with utmost humility.
"There are a lot of deserving coaches that work just as hard and do what I do," he said. "I just have a lot of talent on this team, putting it together and keeping it together. I have great assistant coaches."
The girls Utah High School Swimmer of the Year Award was the only trophy to go somewhere other than Skyline. Hailey Pabst, a Mountain Crest High School sophomore, earned the prestigious award. Pabst earned the individual title in the 200-yard freestyle event on Friday and picked up a 500-yard freestyle title on Saturday (along with second-place finishes in the 400- and 200-yard freestyle relays).
"I'm really happy. It just feels really good," she said. "It was very surprising."
The award may have come as a surprise to her, but the sophomore beat 4A state records in both the 200- and 500-freestyle events and was more than deserving.
Shaylee Howard of Olympus touched the wall first in the 100-yard backstroke (58.67), and Shaelynn Bodrero of Sky View snagged a victory in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:09.49).
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4A Girls Swimming Championship
1. Skyline, 458.5; 2. Woods Cross, 235; 3. Olympus, 211; 4. Mountain Crest, 200; 5. Logan, 176.5; 6. Sky View, 166; 7. Orem, 149.5; 8. Springville, 146.5; 9. Murray, 117; 10. Mountain View, 95; 11. Highland, 69; 12. Westlake, 34; 13. Box Elder, 30; 14. Hillcrest, 22; 15. Bountiful, 17; 16. Timpview, 15; 17. Maple Mountain, 13; 18. East, 7; 19. Herriman, 6.
100-yard butterfly — 1. Lillian Moore, Skyline, 57.51; 2. Xandra Pryor, Highland, 1:03.37; 3. Bella Zini, Skyline, 1:03.77; 4. Madison Callaway, Orem, 1:03.79; 5. Alexis Ralph, Woods Cross, 1:03.91; 6. Dominique Hansen, Skyline, 1:03.96.
100-yard freestyle — 1. Natalie Bennion, Skyline, 52.18; 2. McKenzie Wells, Orem, 54.42; 3. Shaylee Howard, Olympus, 54.45; 4. Kaitie Jowers, Woods Cross, 54.98; 5. Avery Hansen, Woods Cross, 55.22; 6. Nicole Mertz, Springville, 55.31.
500-yard freestyle — 1. Hailey Pabst, Mountain Crest, 5:02.96*; 2. Audrey Miller, Skyline, 5:22.32; 3. Jess Anstee, Skyline, 5:36.45; 4. Abby Loden, Olympus, 5:38.53; 5. Chloe Patterson, Sky View, 5:39.81; 6. Annika Israelsen, Sky View, 5:40.49.
200-yard freestyle relay — 1. Skyline (Natalie Bennion, Bella Zini, Lindsey Elliot, and Audrey Miller), 1:39.85; 2. Mountain Crest (Hailey Pabst, Morgan Bishop, Anya Burtis, Ashlee Spindler), 1:41.43; 3. Woods Cross (Avery Hansen, Alexis Ralph, Elizabeth Steagall, Kaitie Jowers), 1:44.80; 4. Logan (Elise Johnson, Aubrey Gudmundson, Jill Arndt, Megan Healy), 1:45.77; 5. Sky View (Leah Jensen, Sydney Carrillo, Morgann Seipert, Shaelynn Bodrero), 1:46.14; 6. Mountain View (Devri Atoa, Maren Payne, Rachel Watkins and Delaney Lambert), 1:47.72.
100-yard backstroke — 1. Shaylee Howard, Olympus, 58.67; 2. Ashlee Spindler, Mountain Crest, 58.93; 3. McKenzie Wells, Orem, 59.43; 4. Ali Dibble, Skyline, 1:01.04; 5. Polly Creveling, Skyline, 1:03.47; 6. Caitlin Powell, Logan, 1:04.43.
100-yard breaststroke — 1. Shaelynn Bodrero, Sky View, 1:09.49; 2. Anya Burtis, Mountain Crest, 1:11.74; 3. Caitlin Powell, Logan, 1:11.88; 4. Dani Zebelan, Skyline, 1:13.07; 5. Emily Shaw, Orem, 1:13.42; 6. Laura Spencer, Olympus, 1:13.43.
400-yard freestyle relay — 1. Skyline (Lillian Moore, Ali Dibble, Audrey Miller, Natalie Bennion), 3:35.79; 2. Mountain Crest (Ashlee Spindler, Morgan Bishop, Anya Burtis, Hailey Pabst), 3:46.11; 3. Olympus (Melissa Hofmann, Abby Loden, Emily Ference, Shaylee Howard), 3:47.24; 4. Springville (Lauren Pilcher, Payton Acor, Rebekah McClain, Nicole Mertz), 3:47.57; 5. Orem (McKenzie Wells, Madison Callaway, Elizabeth Merrill, Jessica Oviatt), 3:53.88; 6. Logan (Elise Johnson, Jill Arndt, Caitlin Powell, Megan Healy), 3:53.88.
*Denotes state record