The 2020-21 season has brought upon plenty of change for the Plano West swim team. On Friday, the Wolves restored a bit of familiarity to their campaign, capturing their third consecutive District 7-6A championship.
West outlasted the nine teams in action at Allen’s Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium across 12 hotly contested events to score their third straight conference title in as many years under head coach Allison Looney.
“For it being just my third year, for our boys to do this again, I’m so proud of them,” Looney said. “It really felt like this was Prosper’s year and the West boys just came together. They capitalized, and I just reminded them of where placing needed to happen. So many boys stepped up and filled any places where we had holes and it was a massive team effort.”
No doubt a talent-rich Prosper team gave West all it could handle. Only four points separated the two teams in the standings with the Wolves’ 131 points outlasting the Eagles’ 127.
Prosper totaled 14 qualifications for the Region II-6A swim meet versus 12 for West, while the Wolves had a 5-4 edge on district champions crowned on Friday.
“It was very back-and-forth throughout the whole meet. It was up in the air,” Looney said. “They have so much talent over at Prosper, as does West, but I felt like we managed to edge them with our depth on top of that talent.”
Experience has also been in West’s favor over the years, rostering several swimmers who have played integral parts in all three district title wins. Those intangibles took on added importance this season as West navigated the challenges of competing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were displaced from our pool and had to share a pool with Plano Senior,” Looney said. “We had to share times and had decreased practice times, decreased size on our roster. There was a lot working against us, but the kids had such great attitudes about it and just kept plowing through it.”
The Wolves’ resilience was rewarded on Friday. West set the tone with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay (1:36.14) and followed with four individual wins. Two of those included senior Antonio Romero, a multi-year state qualifier, who swam a leg on the Wolves’ victorious relay before adding first-place finishes in the 200 individual medley (1:52.89) and the 100 butterfly (50.35).
“He sets the tone. He’s one of the captains this year and our guys look to him as a leader,” Looney said. “He did the team proud and he’s one of the most focused swimmers I’ve ever coached. The drive is incredible.”
Junior Theodore Chen and sophomore Samuel Durcansky added wins in the 100 backstroke (51.87) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.06), respectively.
“They’re creating a legacy for what Plano West should be,” Looney said. “It’s a very talented group on both the boys and girls sides,” Looney said. “Just being proud to wear those West colors and taking pride in defending your title. It was important to them and it showed in their swims.”
Prosper’s 14 regional qualifications were a district high, adding two individual wins alongside first-place performances by the team’s 200 freestyle (1:26.38) and 400 freestyle relays (3:07.81). Junior Lane White logged first-place swims in the 50 freestyle (21.02) and 100 freestyle (46.59) as one of three swimmers to win multiple individual races on Friday.
In addition to Romero and White, Plano East senior Trey Dickey authored another strong season for a Panther squad that placed third overall with 85 points. Dickey won the 200 freestyle (1:41.54) and the 500 freestyle (4:38.13). In addition to Dickey, East advanced two relays and seven individual swims to regionals.
The Panthers finished one point ahead of Allen (84), which qualified all three of its relays on top of five individual swims for the next round. The Eagles’ meet was highlighted by two medalists in the 100 backstroke as junior Alex Boutin (52.73) and junior Luka Samsonov (52.80) placed second and third, respectively.
McKinney Boyd placed fifth overall with 57 points, while McKinney (18, seventh) and Plano (14, eighth) were also in action. The Broncos impressed early as the team of sophomore Michael Sachau, junior Dillan Chong, junior Bobby Sachau and freshman Neil Banjeree took second in the 200 medley relay (1:40.41), while the Wildcats will send sophomore Darin Suwannakinthorn to regionals after taking third in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.01).
The event’s top four finishers in each race will return to action Feb. 5-6 at the Region II-6A meet, held at the Lewisville ISD Westside Aquatic Center. Each regional champion, plus the next eight fastest times in the state, will qualify for the Class 6A state meet.
“Based on the results from other districts, I’ve got high hopes for West,” Looney said. “I think there’s a lot left in the tank for a lot of our guys, and that’s exciting to watch. I think we have a lot ahead of us and some good news in the coming weeks.”