2021 A-B swimming state champions - Billings Central Rams

The Billings Central Rams pose after winning the 2021 A-B swimming titles in Polson.

BILLINGS — The Billings Central Rams concluded an unfamiliar season by finding themselves in a familiar place atop the podium at the A-B state swim meet Saturday, held for the first time at Mission Valley Aquatics in Polson.

After a season of limited practices and virtual meets because of the coronavirus crisis, the Ram girls earned a repeat title with 102 points. Bigfork was second with 52 and Whitefish was third with 42. The Billings Central boys held off Whitefish with 74 points, compared to the Bulldogs' 71. Columbia Falls was third with 43.

"Overall I am so happy for the (Billings) Central swim team and how they came through this very hard season and still kept each other up and swam as amazing teams and as a big family," Rams coach Robyn O'Nan texted Saturday evening.

It was the 13th title for the boys, who had a three-year streak broken in 2020 by Whitefish. The girls now own 11 swimming championships, including the last two.

They were led by a sweep of all three relays, dual-winner sophomore Alyson Early with wins in the 100 freestyle (55.85 seconds) and 200 freestyle (2:01.85), and freshman Myah Kunz in the 100 backstroke (1:02.71).

Whitefish junior Ada Qunell defended her titles in the 200 IM (2:09.12) on her way to picking up a second win in the 500 freestyle in 5:14.27.

Bigfork junior Sophi Logue was a repeat winner in the 100 butterfly (1:05.77) and was joined atop the podium by senior teammate Shelby Thompson, who won the 50 free (26.05). Hardin sophomore Rylee Kogolshak rounded out the girls individual winners with her win in the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.89.

Polson's inaugural year of fielding a swim team also included two individual championships after Mason Sloan won the 200 freestyle (1:52.97) and the 100 breaststroke (1:05.18).

Hardin junior Caleb Mark was a dual-event winner in the 50 freestyle (23.25) and 100 backstroke (59.24). Whitefish junior Logan Botner also earned two titles with wins in the 100 butterfly (54.9) and 500 freestyle (5:15.43).

His Bulldog teammate, sophomore Jack McDaniel won the 100 freestyle in 52.87. Columbia Falls junior Connor Cheff was the 200 IM champion in 2:19.32.

The Bigfork girls runner-up finish earned the program its first swimming trophy since their program began in 2013.

This was also the first year that AA and A-B have held separate meets, but they chose to do so in 2021 due to COVID-19 precautions.

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