May 15—ALBUQUERQUE — Can a one-man show double as the best team in the state?
We're about to find out.
Ethan Manske is already considered one of the best boys high school swimmers in Santa Fe. On Saturday, the St. Michael's junior will put his talents to the test in the 2021 U.S. Bank State Swimming and Diving Championships at the Albuquerque Academy Natatorium.
He's seeded third in the 500-yard freestyle event and fourth in the 100 backstroke, the only two events he's part of. Because of pandemic-related safety practices, swimmers at this year's state meet — which will not permit fans to attend — are limited to two events, half the usual number. He's also the only swimmer from St. Michael's to qualify for the meet, which should last no more than three hours — down from the usual two-day event attended by hundreds of spectators.
The meet's host, Albuquerque Academy, is expected to contend for the overall team championship, one of two handed out Saturday. While swimming is technically a one-classification sport, the New Mexico Activities Association also awards a small-school state title to the team with the most points in the Class 1A-3A ranks.
St. Michael's is one of those schools, and the question becomes simple: Can Manske stack up enough points in his two events to hold off crosstown rival Santa Fe Prep and its trio of competitors?
Prep has freshman Henry Lyons competing in the same 500-free event as well as the 200 individual medley. Sophomore Nico Roth is entered in the 50- and 100-freestyle events while Michael Vimont is entered in the diving competition.
Manske can compile 40 points by winning each race. If he finishes where he's seeded, that would tally 31. Lyons is in the fast heat of the individual medley and has the fastest qualifying time in the slow heat of the 500 free. Roth is in the first heat of both his events while Vimont is expected to finish in the top half of all divers.
"Ethan could win this thing all by himself," said St. Michael's coach Miguel Castillo. "That's how good he is. He qualified for every event at state, so it came down to choosing which events he'd do the best in."
Prep coach Dave Caldwell said it's not a done deal, not yet.
"That's the best thing about these meets, that you just never know how some kids will do once they get in the water," he said.
Santa Fe High is also represented. The Demons have three individual qualifiers and are entered into a pair of relays. Sophomore Elias Gibson is the fifth seed in the 200 individual medley while classmate Nick Stadick is in the first heat of the 100 butterfly.
Freshman Daschel Bonners Turner is in two events; the 50 free as the fifth overall seed and the 100 free as the third seed.
Saturday's race schedule begins at 2:30 p.m. and is being steamed live on the NFHS Network for a one-time monthly viewing fee of $10.99.