March 6, 2009
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
One hundred points might sound like a lot when you''re keeping score.
The way Mississippi Shockwave Aquatics coach Robert Gonzalez sees it, 100 points is more like one point in football.
So the fact that the Shockwave beat the Mississippi Makos Swim Team 5,455.5-5,318 on Feb. 20-22 at the MSI Short Course State Meet at the Turner Center pool on the University of Mississippi campus doesn''t tell the whole story.
The numbers don''t reflect that the final margin was the third closest in state history. They also don''t show how the Shockwave had to rally from a 100-point deficit in the final events on the final day to win their seventh short-course title in the past nine years.
"Going into the meet we were a slight underdog, so everything had to go pretty well for us to hold out," Gonzalez said. "Our senior division (15-and-over) and our 13-14 divisions were supposed to do well and they performed as they were supposed to. The division that really stepped up was the 10-and-under girls."
Last year, the Shockwave finished second to the Makos, and Gonzalez said his team had a chance to change that if the team received solid contributions from all of its age divisions.
Kate Mattox (fifth, 126 points), Alessandra Otondo (seventh, 112), and CiCi Zhang (eighth, 108) helped the Shockwave win the age group with 707 points. The Makos were second with 688.5.
Gonzalez believes the victory in the age division is the first for the Shockwave in six years.
The Shockwave delivered those efforts -- and more -- earning 53 golds (the most at the 12-team meet), 38 silvers (second most), and 35 bronze (most).
The Shockwave also had five athletes -- Cris Roberts (11- to 12-year-old girls), Lacy Russell (13-14 girls), Rick Deaton (13-14 boys), Hannah Wilson (15-and-over girls), and Robert Fisher (15-and-over boys) earn the high-point awards in their respective divisions.
Roberts, 12, scored 129 points thanks to first-place finishes in the 100-yard freestyle, 50 butterfly, 100 fly, and the 100 individual medley. She also had a second and two thirds.
Russell, 14, won her age division with 140 points. She won all seven of her events: The 100, 200, 500, and 1,650 free and the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Deaton, 14, also scored 140 points to win his age division and finished first in all seven of his events: The 100 and 200 breast, the 50 and 100 free, the 100 and 200 backstroke, and the 200 IM.
Wilson, 17, took her age division with 137 points thanks to first-place finishes in six of seven events. She won the 50, 100, and 200 free, 100 and 200 fly, and the 200 IM. She was second in the 500 free.
Fisher, 18, has 123 points to edge teammate John Servati (122) to win the high-point award for his age division. He won the 100 and 500 free and the 200 IM.
Servati won the 200 free and the 100 and the 200 back.
To cap the meet off, the team set two state records set at the meet. The 13-14 girls team of Rachel Dees, Marta Burwell, Dora Chen, and Russell won with a time of 1:44.93, breaking the old record of 1:44.94. The senior boys 200 medley relay team of Servati (back), Matt Williams (breast), Gonzalez (fly), and Fisher (free) went 1:39.47, breaking the old record of 1:41.01.
The firsts, the comeback (second biggest ever by the team), and the records made for what Gonzalez called "probably the most satisfying short-course meet" he has participated in.
"We had several swimmers score more than 100 points themselves and that was the margin of victory," Gonzalez said. "We had almost 90 swimmers and the Makos had 90 swimmers, so we''re two teams with 180 swimmers and the margin of victory is just one or two swimmers. On paper it looks like a big margin, but we went into last event losing. For them to be able to step up and move up consistently, that was very impressive. It took an entire team to move up and to do their jobs to win this thing."
Other Shockwave swimmers who finished in the top eight of their age division''s were: Marshall Adair (boys 10-and-under, fourth, 138.5 points), Cheng Ye (boys 11-12, second, 125), Dees (girls 13-14, fifth, 114), Eli Jones, Freemont, and Luke Leary (boys 13-14, tied second, 113), Stephanie Gonzalez (girls 15-and-over, third, 113), Calla Kingery (girls 15-and-over, tied sixth, 98), and Robert Gonzalez (boys 15-and-over, eighth, 86).
The Shockwave will send a host of swimmers to the senior and age group sectionals in North Carolina the next two weekends.
This weekend, Fisher, who will swim in the fall at Henderson State in Arkansas, Servati, Stephanie Gonzalez, and Wilson will travel to Raleigh to compete this weekend.
Next weekend, the Shockwave will send Russell, Rachel Dees, Colton Freemont, Cheng Ye, Deaton, and Roberts to Charlotte for the sectional championship meet, the biggest for the 14-and-under age group.
Swim Columbus takes eighth
Coach Chris Chain targeted a top-10 finish prior to the meet and came away with an eight-place overall finish.
Chain said the team could have climbed at least a spot higher if not for two disqualifications.
Still, he came away pleased with the fact Swim Columbus, which had nine athletes score points, had 746.5 points at the meet.
"I was very proud," Chain said. "We kind of knew where we would wind up. Five of the teams in the state have 30 or 40 swimmers and we knew we had a chance to catch up to those."
Swim Columbus recorded six gold-medal finishes, two silvers and four bronze.
The efforts of 8-year-olds Aaron Meek, Thomas Chain, and Moak Griffin helped Swim Columbus realize its goal. Meek took sixth (105 points) in the 10-and-under age division, while Chain was seventh with 101. Griffin scored 57 points.
Meek won first in the 50 back, while Chain had two third-place finishes and a fourth.
Ladd Chain, 11, was Swim Columbus'' highest point scorer. He took third in the boys 11-12 age division with 121 points thanks to victories in the first 50 fly, 100 fly, and 50 free.
Ann Marie Chilcutt (90.5 points), Corey Persons (72), Avery Smith (17), Noah Smith (10), and Sara Neal (five) also scored.
Coach Chain said he was encouraged that Swim Columbus qualified 15 athletes for the state meet. Next year, he hopes for even more.
"I''d like to be up to 25 to 30 kids who are scoring in the championship meet," Chain said. "That way we can get up there in the top three or four or five."
Swim Columbus will open its season March 23 at the YMCA.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.