Sports > Schools
Mesquite swimmers make a splash at district meets
The Mesquite ISD swimming and diving teams ran into some tough competition at last week's District 11-5A and 12-4A meets at the Rockwall ISD Aquatic Center.
But they came away with plenty of reasons to celebrate, highlighted by four gold medals, as MISD athletes earned 21 individual and 15 relay berths to the regional competition next weekend.
"I was really happy that we had as many make it out as we did," MISD coach Kristi Pottorff said. "And most of the kids were able to drop their times, which is always the biggest goal we set for them."
North Mesquite sophomore Jeremy Nichols won two gold medals, taking first in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. Nichols narrowly took the 50, winning by three-hundredths of a second, but had a much more comfortable time in the 100, as his time of 49.62 was nearly two seconds ahead of the pack.
One of his Stallion teammates, Alexandra Gerner, took first place in the 100 butterfly to claim the gold medal. Gerner edged Horn senior Alejandra Mota at the wall to win by 0.29 seconds.
"We had high hopes for Jeremy coming in, and he trains with a U.S. team in Rockwall so he was swimming against a lot of his friends, but to win as a sophomore is a big achievement," Pottorff said. "Alex (Gerner) was a little surprising and she beat Alejandra, who is a senior so that was a little bittersweet, but they went 1-2, which was great, and Alex dropped two seconds off her time so she definitely earned it."
Horn's Kaitlyn Coleman claimed the fourth gold medal, edging teammate Taylor Vrzak to win the one-meter diving event.
Among the other standout performers at the 11-5A meet was Horn junior Hayden Arnold, who placed second in both the 200 individual medley and the 200 backstroke.
The Jaguars' Alek Hill was sixth in the 100 butterfly, North Mesquite's Neil Wayne placed sixth in the individual medley and Mesquite's Kelley Boyd was fifth in the 200 freestyle to also earn individual berths.
Tyler Lee swept the boys and girls district championships in the 11-5A competition, with Rockwall taking second and Rockwall-Heath placing third.
Pottorff said one of the biggest surprises came in the 12-4A meet, where West Mesquite's Kimberly Rico was able to take second in the freestyle and third in the 500 freestyle.
Rico was part of a strong Wrangler contingent. Valerie Aguirre was second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 50 freestyle and Michelle Lopez was fifth in the 100 freestyle.
On the boys side, Steven Risberg was third in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 100 backstroke.
Poteet's Shelby Boatwright rounded out the individual qualifiers by placing fifth in the 100 backstroke.
In addition to the individual performances, every MISD team had at least two relay teams finish in the top six.
The 5A regional meet is scheduled for Feb. 8 in Rockwall while the 4A regional competition will be held on the same day in Frisco.
Going to separate sites will create a different dynamic than the swimmers are used to. Despite competing for their individual schools, all the athletes train together under Pottorff and that camaraderie carries over from practice to the meets.
"That is one thing about all of them is that they are so supportive of each other and that comes from the chemistry they build in practice," she said. "Even during the meet, you'll see kids from different schools (MISD) coming over to celebrate with each other or to try to pick each other up when one of them is down."
Pottorff is keeping realistic expectations for the regional meet. Unlike the district level, where the top six finishers advance to the next level, only the winner of the event moves on to the state meet.
She said Nichols probably has the best chance to make a run at state, while Gerner could be a darkhorse if she continues to improve at her recent rate.
But regardless of the results next week, with a team made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, these are experiences to build on as they look toward a bright future.
"I like their mentality of wanting to create a winning tradition here," Pottorff said. "We're not a powerhouse, not yet, anyway, but I think just getting that mindset that they can go out there and compete with anybody out there, and especially for how many young kids we have, that will be a big step."