CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- How low can you go? George Washington is still finding out.
After posting their lowest times of the season at last week's Mountain State Athletic Conference championships, the Patriots boys and girls hope that trend continues when the Region 4 high school swim meet begins at 12:30 p.m. today at the Fredrick A. Fitch Natatorium on Marshall University's campus in Huntington.
In addition to GW, Cabell Midland, Capital, Charleston Catholic, Herbert Hoover, Huntington, Hurricane, Mingo Central, Nitro, Point Pleasant, South Charleston, Spring Valley, St. Albans, St. Joseph and Winfield will also compete. (See box for other state regionals across the state today.)
The top three swimmers in individual events and the top three teams in relays from each region gain automatic bids to the state meet, scheduled for next Thursday and Friday at West Virginia University. In addition, the next 12 fastest individuals and six fastest relays in each event throughout the state will also receive berths to states.
The GW boys will begin their quest for a third straight state title while the girls look to improve upon last year's runner-up finish. The Patriots swept to both the boys and girls team titles at last weekend's MSAC championships, setting four meet records along the way. The boys posted 10 season-best times while the girls had seven.
GW junior Zach Kidd has the top time in the state this year in the 500 freestyle (4:54.24), an event in which he finished as state runner-up last year. Kidd also has the second-best time in the 200 freestyle.
Patriots senior Jacob Nason has the fourth-best clocking in the 100 butterfly, in which he was second at states last year, and is third best in the 200 individual medley. GW also owns the fastest times in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
On the girls side, GW senior Anna Davis has the second-fastest time in the 50 freestyle, third best in the 100 butterfly and fourth fastest in the 100 backstroke. Patriots freshman Jordyn O'Dell has the second-best clocking in the 100 backstroke and third fastest in the 200 freestyle.
Patriots freshman Emily Hageboeck owns the No. 2 time in the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, third best in the 500 freestyle and No. 2 in the state in the 200 individual medley. The Patriots have the top time in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays and No. 2 in the 200 freestyle relay.
"Based on [the MSAC championships] I feel good,'' said GW coach Melissa Case. "What I'm really excited about is to see we're still dropping time and we're dropping where we should be. That's really good news. If they keep swimming the way they are they should be fine.''
Other swimmers from the Kanawha Valley who will be looking to punch their tickets to states include South Charleston senior Austin Green, the defending state champion in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. He owns the top time in the 100 breaststroke and butterfly and second-best time in the 50 freestyle, which replaces the 100 freestyle.
SC sophomore Adam Poe, who was second in the 50 freestyle as a freshman in last year's state meet, has the third-best time this year in that event. He also owns the second-fastest clocking in the 100 freestyle.
Charleston Catholic senior Nate Carr is the defending state titlist in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley. He has the top times in both events this year and is second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 200 freestyle.
For the girls, Catholic sophomore Morgan Carr has the top times in the 200 and 500 freestyle events and 100 butterfly. Winfield sophomore Madisyn Lyons has the best time in the 200 individual medley and the No. 2 clocking in the 500 freestyle. Lyons was state runner-up in both events last year.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.