It’s rare to see a sixth-place swimmer at the state swim meet get quite as excited as Pleasant Grove senior Dallin Bunnell did Thursday night after the 200-yard freestyle race.
As he stood on the podium, he kept glancing around, waiting for the other names to be read.
Finally the last name was read and the first-place swimmer stepped to the top to receive his medal — and the Viking senior had a huge grin on his face.
That’s because the surprise winner of the race was none other than Dallin’s younger brother, Pleasant Grove sophomore Devin Bunnell.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this kid,” Dallin said after the awards ceremony. “He’s my younger brother and there is no more deserving state champion than him.”
Devin was overcome and almost disbelieving of how well he performed. He ended up dropping nearly four seconds from his 1:46.18 seed time to get the individual state title in the event.
“It was the best race of my life,” Devin said. “It feels so good. I was coming up as the third seed but I finally got my futures cut in USA swimming. I’m so happy.”
He said all the aspects of the race went in his favor.
“Everything worked out great,” Devin said. “The tape, the suit, the competition, it all worked out.”
He said he knew as he made the turn for the final leg that he had the lead.
“I started to die on that last leg and I saw I was about a body length ahead,” the sophomore said. “They were catching up to me slowly, so it was a race to see if I could stay ahead of them. I just put my head down on that last little bit. I didn’t know what time I was going to go but I wasn’t expecting anything close to what I went.”
Dallin, on the other hand, said he wasn’t surprised at all.
“He has worked so hard and he pulled it out just like I knew he could,” Dallin said.
The senior said that being on the podium with his sophomore brother was “kind of a dream come true.”
“When he started swimming with me last year, I was thinking to myself that we could both be on that podium,” Dallin said. “For it to happen now is incredible.”
While the Viking brothers got to enjoy that special moment together, it was the Lone Peak boys swimming team that put on the best show as an entire team as they left the first day of competition in the top spot.
“We’re kind of where we expected them to be,” Knights head coach Sam Blackburn said. “We were hoping we would be a little bit higher but we swam really well and had a lot of best times. I feel like we are in a good place, going into tomorrow.”
Starting with the victory in the 200-yard medley relay, Lone Peak surged to the front. Now Blackburn said his Knights to come back ready for a big day on Friday in the final rounds.
“We have to refocus tonight, get a good night’s rest and come back tomorrow ready to swim even faster,” Blackburn said.
The final day of the 5A state swimming meet is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Richards Building at BYU.