Stepping atop the podium after the 200-yard freestyle at state meets has become old hat for Kat Simonovic.
But after the 100-yard butterfly? That’s something that made Saturday’s Division I meet at Mesa Skyline Aquatic Center unique for the Mesa Mountain View senior.
For the fourth straight year she beat the field in the 200 free, carving four seconds off her preliminary time from Friday and beating Pinnacle’s Isabel Whited by more than two seconds in the final.
But in the 100 fly — an event she was state runner-up for as a freshman, but hadn’t competed in since — Simonovic topped reigning champ Samantha Guttmacher from Mesa Red Mountain to earn her second gold of the day.
Things have changed from that first year as she’s now a favorite, and readily admits her goals are wildly different.
“The first year (in the 200 free) was accidental,” Simonovic said. “I was just happy to be (there). And from there on, now it’s just a mental thing. It’s the same race every time. It becomes part of you.
“I was reading last night an article that said I’d be a four-time champ, and I was thinking, ‘This hasn’t even happened yet.’ But it’s a good confidence booster. Things are a little different now, I’m worried about recruiting. I won, but that time wasn’t where it should be.”
While Simonovic and Phoenix Pinnacle’s Victoria Toris were the big individual stories of the day, Xavier Prep easily won the team title under first-year coach Brian Hoffer. An Arizona State product who was the coach at the University of Missouri for 18 years, Hoffer said he’s been impressed with the attitude of his swimmers.
“I’ve been really impressed with the energy these girls bring every day and their commitment to the sport,” Hoffer said. “I can’t be any happier with the way Xavier has given me all the tools to try to win another state championship. We look at this as a team effort.”
Toris, meanwhile, was a winner in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, as the sophomore phenom picked up her first state titles. She edged Guttmacher in the 50, but poured it on in the 100, beating Kathleen Mulligan by nearly two full seconds while securing automatic All-American status.
“I feel like I go faster in the 100 than the 50, something about it gets me every time,” Toris said. “I think for me, I get more time to pick up my pace and think about what I’m doing.”
Joining Simonovic and Toris as a double-winner was Clara Jenck of Mountain Pointe, who won the 200-yard individual medley as well as the 100-yard backstroke.