LEWISVILLE — Forty-eight spots were in the Class 6A Swimming and Diving State Championships were finalized on Saturday at the Region II-6A swim meet, and that select company includes swimmers from Plano ISD, Lewisville ISD, Allen and Coppell.
Those student-athletes were among 34 schools represented at the regional showcase, held at the LISD Westside Aquatic Center. The top two finishers in each event automatically secured a spot at the state, which takes place Feb. 14-15 at the University of Texas in Austin.
Several swimmers will be making return trips to state, including many from a Flower Mound team that raked in a pair of team trophies at Saturday’s regional meet — a second-place finish for its girls and a third-place finish for its boys.
The Jaguars were joined by district rival and perennial juggernaut Southlake Carroll as the meet’s only teams to place both their boys and girls teams in the top three, as the Dragons cruised to a pair of repeat regional titles. Prosper placed second in the boys meet and Allen’s girls took home third overall.
Flower Mound did its damage largely in the relays, automatically qualifying for state in four of Saturday’s six races. That included second-place finishes for the Lady Jaguars in the 200-yard medley (1:45.33) and 200 freestyle relays (1:35.25), as well as a victory for the Flower Mound boys in the 400 freestyle relay (3:08.24) on top of a silver medal in the 200 freestyle relay (1:26.49).
“The relays swam great and everybody was excited to be on them,” said Anthony Arbogast, Flower Mound head coach. “People were pumped and ready to swim those, which helped a lot.”
That success translated into several top-two individual swims, including a pair of medals won by sophomore Julia Wozniak — first place in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.52) and second place in the 200 individual medley (2:03.26) — and senior Maggie Gholston, whose silver medal in the 50 freestyle (23.16) preceded a dominant win in the 500 freestyle (4:52.94) that was nearly seven seconds faster than the next-closest finisher.
“[Gholston] had a great swim and paced it really well. She had a plan and was able to execute it and that showed in the time she was able to put up,” Arbogast said.
Freshman Halina Panczyszyn added a win in the 100 backstroke for the Lady Jaguars (56.58), who will be sending a healthy contingent to state in hopes of building off last year’s third-place team finish.
“The mindset is just to get ready for state. We know that if we continue to do well in those relays and everything we swam well in today, it’s going to be fun,” Arbogast said.
PISD wins aplenty at regionals
All three Plano ISD swim teams not only qualified athletes for the state meet but did so after first-place performances Saturday at regionals.
That included a wealth of top-two finishes for Plano East, which tied for fourth place with Plano West on the boys side. For what the Panthers lacked in volume on Saturday, they made up for in efficiency with sophomore Gio Linscheer, Maguire Sheppard and junior Trey Dickey all securing spots at state.
Linscheer was among the top overall boys swimmers at the meet, winning both the 200 IM (1:51.79) and 500 freestyle (4:28.24) to remain perfect in individual swims during his inaugural postseason after being sidelined by injury as a freshman.
“Gio had a really unfortunate accident last year and dislocated his knee and he was out for the entire championship season,” said Lena Harrington, East head coach. “But he got right back to work and he’s been one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever had.”
Linscheer was joined on the podium by Dickey, who swam a 4:29.99 to take second in the 500 freestyle, while Sheppard won the 100 freestyle (46.23) and took second in the 50 freestyle (21.40) despite not placing in the top four of either race during the preliminary round of regionals on Friday.
“This is the best regional meet we’ve had since I’ve been here. I’m really proud of the guys for stepping up,” Harrington said. “… It’s nice for the kids to see what it’s like to be on the other side, being on top of the podium and scoring some points here.”
East wasn’t alone, with Plano senior Alex Sanchez returning to state for a second straight year following a win in the 100 breaststroke (55.97) and a second-place swim in the 100 butterfly (49.67), as well as a pair of automatic qualifications for Plano West. Fresh off a district title, the Wolves will send their second-place 200 medley relay (1:36.49) to state, while junior Antonio Romero booked a return trip after winning the 200 freestyle (1:39.84).
Familiar faces advance for Allen, Coppell
Allen senior Anni Fan and Coppell senior Johan Pretorius are no stranger to the rigors of competing at the state meet, having done so multiple years throughout their storied careers. The two will close the book on their high school tenures on that exact stage once again after winning one event each on Saturday.
Fan took first in the 100 butterfly (54.87) while Pretorius raked in another regional title in the 100 backstroke (51.21).
Fan will be joined in Austin by the remainder of the Lady Eagles’ 400 freestyle relay, which took second (3:31.13), as well as senior Seth LaForge, who impressed with a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (59.09).
Marcus junior Kaylyn King will make the trip to state as well after eking out one of Saturday’s closest finishes — taking second in the 100 backstroke (57.68) with a time that was one-hundredth of a second faster than Hebron sophomore Anna Rejniak.
The waiting game
Rejniak is one of several swimmers who, while not guaranteed an automatic spot at the state meet, had to wait until Monday before learning that she had qualified as one of the next eight fastest times around the state in her race.
Other swimmers who logged wildcard spots at state included Allen’s girls 200 medley relay (1:47.27, third), Flower Mound senior Aidan Clark in the 200 freestyle (1:41.02, third), Allen sophomore Catriona Gilmore in the 200 IM (2:05.57), Hebron junior Marian Cheramy in the 200 IM (2:06.22, fourth), Flower Mound senior Jenna Watson in the 200 IM (2:06.24, fifth), Allen’s Fan in the 50 freestyle (23.58, third), Plano freshman Emma Hrasko in the 50 freestyle (24.21, fifth), Flower Mound senior Brooke Dalbey in the 100 freestyle (52.07, fourth), Flower Mound junior Jacob Dix in the 100 freestyle (46.67, fourth), Flower Mound senior Jasmine Weiland in the 500 freestyle (4:59.64, third), West’s Romero in the 500 freestyle (4:32.99, third), Allen’s girls 200 freestyle relay (1:37.72, fourth), Coppell senior Aurelie Migault in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.05, third), Allen’s Gilmore in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.10, fourth), Flower Mound’s Watson in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.10, fourth), Flower Mound’s girls 400 freestyle relay (3:32.73, third), Prosper’s boys 400 freestyle relay (3:10.32, third) and West’s 400 freestyle relay (3:10.73, fourth).
“It’s something we’ll talk about in the coming week,” Harrington said of expectations heading into state. “I feel like all our boys have more left in the tank for two weeks from now. We’ll sit down and figure out what it’s going to take in order to make that top eight at state.”