February 20, 2009
The Mississippi Shockwave Aquatics and Swim Columbus have invaded Oxford in hopes of winning a state title.
The swimming teams will join 13 others this weekend at the MSI Short Course State Meet at the Turner Center pool on the University of Mississippi campus.
Action in the three-day event started today for boys and girls ages 8 and older.
Both teams have a host of top-seeded swimmers who will attempt to earn individual titles and to score points for their squads.
"I feel pretty good about our kids," Shockwave coach Robert Gonzalez said. "The best thing we have to offer with the team is we have strength in every division. As long as we maintain that and we have solid swims I think we will score points in every single event, which is critical. I think the depth of our swim team really shows in a meet like this."
The Shockwave finished second at the short course (25 yards) meet last year and won the long course meet (50 meters). The team has won six of the past eight short course championships and eight consecutive long course titles.
Gonzalez said the Shockwave have qualified 85 swimmers to participate this weekend. That number is slightly less than the number of athletes their top rival, the Mississippi Makos, will bring to the meet, but that doesn''t bother Gonzalez.
"It is going to be a tight meet, but as long as everyone performs and does their job we have a strong opportunity to regain our short course title."
Delta State signees Calla Kingery (Starkville High School) and Stephanie Gonzalez (Caledonia High) and possible Delta State signee Robert Fisher (Tupelo High) will lead the Shockwave in the oldest division.
Gonzalez hopes to receive contributions from a host of athletes. He said he will look to Cris Roberts and Chelsie Gray in the 11- to 12-year-old girls division, Lacy Russell, Rachel Dees, and Mark Anne Hobart in the 13-14 division, and Kingery, Gonzalez and Hannah Wilson in the senior girls division.
In the boys competition, Gonzalez said Cheng Ye (11-12), Rick Deaton and Colton Fremont (13-14), and Fisher and John Servati in the senior boys division should be some of the team''s high scorers.
Swim Columbus also expects to have a host of top scorers.
Coach Chris Chain said the addition of three 8-and-under competitors, including Thomas Chain and Moak Griffin, will help boost his team''s scoring ability.
The 8-and-under swimmers, who had their state meet last weekend, will compete in the 9-10 division.
Last year, Swim Columbus had only eight swimmers at the state meet. This year, it has doubled the size of its squad, which gives coach Chain plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
"I hope they jet out of there," Chain said. "We are looking forward to a good, fast meet. We have been working hard since September."
Chain said many of his swimmers are seeded in the top 16, which could help it realize a top-10 finish.
Some of Swim Columbus'' top competitors are: Aaron Meek, Ladd Chain, Noah Smith, Corey Persons, Parker Sumrall, Ann Marie Chilcutt, Sara Neal, Molly Chain, Mary Porter, Bo Howard, Georgianna Brown, Avery Smith, and Shelby Phillips.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.