Spots in the Region II-6A swim meet were at a premium Friday and Saturday when the eight schools in District 5-6A collided at the Carroll ISD Aquatics Center.
The UIL’s COVID-19 revisions to swim season included trimming the number of regional qualifiers from six to four — heightening the urgency of submitting a strong showing at the district meet.
That plight was made all the more challenging for the swim programs in Lewisville ISD and Coppell, who are already competing against one of the state’s premier swim programs in Southlake Carroll, and the Dragons didn’t disappoint.
Carroll swept its way through two days of competition in its home natatorium, repeating as district champions in the boys and girls meets — events held on separate days in compliance with COVID protocols. The Dragons scored 273 points in the boys standings and 246 on the girls side, totaling a meet-high 45 qualifications for the Region II-6A meet, which takes place Feb. 5-6 at LISD Westside Aquatic Center.
LISD got in on the festivities elsewhere, with the Marcus boys taking second at 98.50 points and the Flower Mound girls earning runner-up honors with 121.50 points. The Marauders added third on the girls side (109.50) with Hebron (63) and Coppell (29) rounding out the top five.
The Hawks’ boys teams placed third with 76 points to narrowly edge Flower Mound’s 75.50. Coppell took fifth overall with 56 points with Lewisville notching sixth with 21.
Although Carroll made plenty of trips atop the podium with 18 district champions, the remaining six events featured wins for Flower Mound. Five came on the girls side and three included standout junior Julia Wozniak. She swam the final leg of the Lady Jaguars’ victorious 200-yard medley relay (1:44.95) and added individual wins in the 200 freestyle (1:51.05) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.93).
Senior Rachel Stange picked up a win in the 100 freestyle (52.81) and sophomore Halina Panczyszyn placed first in the 100 backstroke (55.59) for the second consecutive season. Senior Riley Edmundson added second place in the 100 butterfly (56.20) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.96) — one of three Lady Jaguars to crack the top four in the latter race.
“We lost a good group of girls that graduated. It was a great group, but with the girls we have now there are some we look to have step up and fill those big shoes that were left behind,” said Anthony Arbogast, Flower Mound head coach. “I have all the confidence in them doing so.”
Senior Jacob Dix helmed the Flower Mound boys’ effort — placing top two in four events, headlined by a first-place swim in the 100 backstroke (50.93).
In total, Flower Mound notched 17 qualifications for regionals, with Hebron and Marcus not far behind at 14 and 13, respectively.
The Lady Hawks were paced by senior Marian Cheramy, who took second in the 200 individual medley (2:06.79) and third in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.64). Hebron senior Miguel Barcellano, junior Justin Hwang, junior Tyler Davis and senior Noah Kelly teamed up to place second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:31.84).
Marcus benefited from a second-place swim the 400 freestyle relay from junior Rachel Brown, sophomore Erin McGrath, freshman Brooke Shumway and senior Kaylyn King (3:35.93), while junior Sydney Rice took second in the 1-meter dive with 437.50 points. Junior Vincent Nguyen had a productive meet on the boys side, placing third in both the 100 butterfly (51.79) and 100 backstroke (53.72).
Coppell freshman Katelyn Jost was unfazed by the competition in her district debut, advancing to regionals behind fourth-place swims in the 200 freestyle (1:57.09) and 500 freestyle (5:11.03), while Lewisville sophomore Nicholas Allen will represent the Farmers in the next round after nabbing the last qualifying spot in the 200 freestyle (1:47.51).
With the top four finishers in each race bound for the regionals, the stakes further raise with only the first-place finisher in each regional event, as well as the next eight fastest times around the state, qualifying for the Class 6A state meet on Feb. 19 (girls) and Feb. 26 (boys) in San Antonio.
“At regionals, having to win that event really puts a lot more focus on making sure you get first so you’re not having to worry about getting thrown into that mix for those next eight times,” Arbogast said. “It puts a lot more focus on trying to win those events instead of just advance.”