GW still has eyes on swimming sweep
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington put itself in prime position to pull off a rare boys-girls sweep, a South Charleston swimmer splashed his way to All-America status with a torrid time and Charleston Catholic siblings turned in the day's only two meet records.
All in all, not a bad day for the Kanawha Valley during the opening round of the state swim meet Thursday at the West Virginia University Natatorium in Morgantown.
GW, which has a shot at taking home both the boys and girls team titles, qualified 14 entries into the championship heat in the girls meet and 12 more in the boys meet. The Patriots have claimed three of the last four state titles in the boys division, but have never won on the girls side despite six runner-up finishes over the last eight years.
"We're super pleased, definitely,'' said GW coach Melissa Case in a telephone interview. "The kids are excited because it's both the boys and girls [contending], but especially the girls because they've just really worked hard to get there and just keep cranking.
"They're taking it up a notch every time they get in the water. It's their ability to do well and just feed off each other. Right now, it's really fun to watch them swim. They've turned in some amazing times.''
Only once has a school captured both crowns in the same meet - Fairmont Senior in 2006. The SSAC began recognizing state championships in 1999.
SC's Austin Green, meanwhile, turned in his All-America time in the 100-yard butterfly with a preliminary clocking of 49.74 seconds. Any high school time of 49.79 or under in that event earns automatic All-America status by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association.
Green's other individual event, the 100 breaststroke qualifier, also went well as he turned in a time of 57.57 seconds - just off his own meet mark of 57.50. It was fast enough for All-America consideration, but not automatic recognition, which takes a time of 57.08 or less.
"I'm very happy with my results,'' Green said. "There's always room for improvement, and that's definitely what I'll be doing tomorrow - seeking more improvement.
"Our relay teams did well, too. It's pretty exciting. We're ready to go out and go get it [today].''
The lone meet mark in the boys division came from Charleston Catholic senior Nate Carr in the 100 backstroke with a time of 51.28 seconds. In the girls division, his younger sister, sophomore Morgan Carr, sped to a clocking of 58.49 in the 100 butterfly for the day's other meet record.
Morgan Carr also owned the top time in the 500 free, and Winfield's Madisyn Lyons led qualifiers in the 200 individual medley.
No team points were scored during the opening day, which is a series of preliminaries set up to qualify entries into the championship or consolation rounds for today.
The top six times in individual and relay events on Thursday advanced entries into today's championship heat that determines places one to six. The next six-fastest times in Thursday's qualifiers compete in the consolation heat for places seven to 12. Relays score double points.
GW's girls produced the top preliminary times in three events - the 200 medley relay, the 400 free relay and Emily Hageboeck in the 100 breaststroke. On the boys side, the 200 medley team posted the No. 1 qualifying time for the finals, as did Zach Kidd in the 500 free. GW had three of the top-five fastest results in the grueling event.
The Patriots advanced all three of their relay teams to the title flight in both the boys and girls meets, and qualified several other entries into the consolation heat for places seven to 12, enhancing their quest to sweep both titles.
"The kids definitely have their eye on it, and I do, too,'' Case said. "We'd love to do that. I think we're in pretty decent position to give it a really good shot. We know anything can happen. We lost one of our top seeds in the boys meet [to a disqualification], but the rest of them picked it up.''
Showing some of that spunk for GW was Nick Peyatte in the 100 breaststroke, who swam to the championship round (and tied for third) after an equipment malfunction that saw him compete most of the race with his goggles in his mouth.
Bridgeport figures to give GW a run for its money in the boys meet after advancing nine entries into the title heats - including the top time in four events, all involving Frank Csonka. Csonka led qualifying in the 50 and 100 free and helped the Indians to the No. 1 times in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
In the girls meet, Morgantown sent nine entries into the championship flight and Bridgeport seven. Both teams qualified all three of their relays as they attempt to chase down GW.
Meanwhile, SC coach Sarah Carroll noted that all of her boys entries qualified among the top six, meaning they'll be swimming in the championship heat today.
"We're happy where we are,'' Carroll said. "The first day of the state swim meet is a nervous day for the kids. It's all about getting into the final, and we're in the top six in everything we're swimming. That's huge for us, and we're excited about it.''
South Charleston sophomore Adam Poe qualified third in both the 50 free and 100 free, and the Black Eagles' 200 free relay team - with Green and Poe in tow - will be seeded second and its 200 medley relay squad fourth.
"It was a big day for Austin,'' Carroll said, "and [today] should be some great races. We had circle seeding [Thursday], so you don't swim against fast people. You sit around and watch the other people swim. Some teams around the state had some really great swims. They also moved their relays around. We saw some different times out of different teams with different combinations.''
The boys events resume at 8:30 a.m. today, with the girls slate of finals scheduled for about 4:40 p.m. There will be a break between sessions.
Green said the early-morning start didn't bother him, and his body is able to handle it.
"For me, being a competitive swimmer, I feel pretty used to it,'' he said. "I think the other guys [on our team] are faring pretty well.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.