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STATE: Panthers pocket sweep

RENO — Although her performance was a large reason for the win, Mikayda Mills was one of the last to realize the Palo Verde girls swim team had pulled off a state championship.

Mills won both of her individual events and swam the anchor leg of two winning relays to lead Palo Verde, which swept the girls and boys titles Saturday at UNR’s Lombardi Recreation Center.

The Palo Verde girls needed almost every one of Mills’ points in edging Green Valley, 86-80. Coronado finished third with 64 points.

Palo Verde ran away with the boys title, amassing 105 points. Bishop Gorman was second with 67, Reno third (58) and Boulder City fourth (56).

“We came up here with a mission, and that was a clean sweep, and we did it,” Palo Verde coach Bob Nicholson said. “The kids all stepped up, and it was absolutely amazing. They couldn’t have been better.”

While the boys title for Palo Verde was a foregone conclusion about halfway through the meet, the girls came down to the final event — the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“I was one of the last to know, but other people knew if our last relay took any better than sixth we would have won,” Mills said. “It’s kind of like the entire team was just like, ‘Yay, we get to take home a state title to our school.’ ”

Mills won the girls 50 freestyle with a time of 24.32 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 52.38. She also got the Panthers off to a good start in the meet’s first event by swimming the freestyle anchor leg on the 200 medley relay, which Palo Verde won in 1:50.65.

With three wins already in the bag, Mills dived into the pool in fourth place for the anchor leg of the 200 freestyle relay but quickly passed Douglas’ Haley VonSchottensteim and Galena’s Karolina Piatrowski and beat Reno’s Ingrid Cardenas to the wall by 0.09 of a second.

“My fourth event was the relay, and I always get excited for relays because relays are just like fun,” Mills said. “I thought we were going to win, I hoped we were going to win, but I didn’t know.”

Palo Verde’s Gianni Sesto had the chance to match Mills with four gold medals but came up about the length of a fingernail short.

“Actually less than that,” Sesto said. “I should have kept them longer.”

Sesto won the boys 200 freestyle in 1:40.71, beating Spring Valley’s Dylan Wolf by a tenth of a second, and the 100 backstroke in 52.59. He also swam the third leg of the Panthers’ victorious 200 freestyle relay, starting out in third and handing anchor Jay Sirat a nearly one-second advantage.

Palo Verde was first when Sesto dived in for the anchor leg of the 400 freestyle relay, but Sesto and Reno’s Michael Weiss hit the wall simultaneously at the finish. Reno’s time of 3:13.11 edged Palo Verde’s 3:13.14.

“I thought I had it,” Sesto said. “I finished, and I started cheering, and then I finally realized that the 11 and the 14 were in the wrong spots, and I was like, ‘ooh.’ ”

Green Valley’s Allie Dodds also was part of three wins. She won the girls 200 freestyle (1:54.63) and the 500 freestyle (5:07.89) and swam a leg of the Gators’ 400 freestyle relay, which was first in 3:38.93.

Green Valley’s Robert Hommel was the other swimmer to win two individual events — the boys 200 individual medley (1:53.00) and 500 freestyle (4:37.41).
 

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