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2020 UIL swimming & diving state meet preview: Dallas ISD’s record contingent, teams to watch, individuals to know

The two-day meet is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

The goal of every UIL high school swimmer when those predawn practices begin in August is to earn the privilege to be a part of the state meet.

For a record contingent of Dallas ISD swimmers, that dream will be realized this weekend.

The two-day meet is scheduled for the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin with prelims on Friday (Class 5A at 10 a.m., 6A at 5:30 p.m.) and finals on Saturday (5A at 9:30 a.m., 6A at 3:30 p.m.)

The official number of DISD swimming qualifiers is 20, five more than last year.

The breakdown is six girls and four boys from Woodrow Wilson, five girls and four boys from Bryan Adams and one girl from Hillcrest. All will compete in Class 5A. Six others will serve as relay alternates. DISD said the number of qualifiers is a record for the district.

“Thinking back to the dedication we’ve had, the practices from 6-7:30 each morning, it is really rewarding to see this happen," said Woodrow Wilson girls coach Brook Varner.

DISD hasn’t won a race at the state meet since Hillcrest’s Rebecca Brandy did it in 2015 in the girls 100-meter fly. The last boys winner was Caleb Veazy from Bryan Adams when he won the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle in 2009.

Swimmers from Woodrow Wilson High School who qualified for this weekend's UIL swimming and diving state meet put on their swimming cap and goggles at Alamo Swimming Pool on Feb. 13, 2020 in Dallas.
Swimmers from Woodrow Wilson High School who qualified for this weekend's UIL swimming and diving state meet put on their swimming cap and goggles at Alamo Swimming Pool on Feb. 13, 2020 in Dallas.(Juan Figueroa / Staff photographer)

Varner and boys coach Griffin Marshall have been aided by strong team leadership. Helen Agee, a senior headed to the Air Force Academy, is qualified in two events, the 50 and 100 freestyle. Varner praises Agee’s “phenomenal focus."

Junior Irina Starostin in the 500 freestyle, sophomore Lauren Moffett in the 200 freestyle and freshman Lesley Hudspeth in the backstroke are Woodrow Wilson’s other individual female qualifiers.

On the boys side, Varner says freshmen qualifiers Grant Closson in the 100 freestyle and backstroke specialist Jack Berube have benefited from the leadership of senior captain Edwins Herrera.

Woodrow Wilson will also be represented in two boys and two girls relays.

Nick Enriquez, coach at Bryan Adams, said the swimming programs got a shot in the arm several realignments ago when the Dallas ISD was no longer placed in the same region with the Frisco schools.

“When we had a chance to compete against schools from East Texas, the kids realized they had a much better opportunity to go to state and that made them work harder," Enriquez said.

Based on qualifying performance, Bryan Adams’ Audrey Jacobson is the top DISD individual hope this weekend. The sophomore has the fourth-best qualifying time in the 500 freestyle and is No. 5 in the 200 freestyle, an event in which she placed sixth as a freshman.

“She’s a hard worker. Between our schedule and her club team, I think Audrey had a meet almost every weekend in November and December," Enriquez said. “Having her on our relays gives the other girls confidence."

Senior Anja Cronjaeger likewise is qualified in two individual events, the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle.

On the boys’ side for the Cougars, senior 200 individual medley qualifier Merritt Curtis has been a pleasant surprise.

Bryan Adams is sending one boys and one girls relay.

Rounding out the DISD contingent, Hillcrest freshman Katherine Yao is qualified seventh in the 200 individual medley and 11th in the 100 breaststroke.

Runs in the family

When Ryan Perham made up his mind on his college choice, the Southlake Carroll senior had no trouble swaying his mom.

In November, Perham followed family legacy by selecting Arizona where his mother, Crissy (Ahmann-Leighton) Perham, was a two-time NCAA champion in the 100 butterfly. After her four-year career ended at Arizona in 1992, she competed in the Barcelona Olympic Games and won silver in the 100 butterfly and was a member of two gold-medal relay teams for Team USA in the 4x100 medley and 4x100 freestyle.

Ryan Perham concentrated on water polo before turning to competitive swimming last year. He is qualified third in both the Class 6A 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.

Junior Irina Starostin, a UIL state qualifier from Woodrow Wilson High School, works on her swimming technique by doing a high butterfly stroke at Alamo Swimming Pool on Feb. 13, 2020 in Dallas.
Junior Irina Starostin, a UIL state qualifier from Woodrow Wilson High School, works on her swimming technique by doing a high butterfly stroke at Alamo Swimming Pool on Feb. 13, 2020 in Dallas.(Juan Figueroa / Staff photographer)

Teams to watch

Boys

Frisco Wakeland: Runner-up in 5A state last year ranks no worse than fourth in qualifying for all three relays.

Mansfield: Qualified in all three relays in Class 6A and senior Jase Pinckney could provide individual points.

Southlake Carroll: A streak of nine consecutive 6A state team titles is in jeopardy with none of its three relays qualifying higher than seventh.

Girls

Flower Mound: Third at 6A state in 2019 and right on Carroll’s heels in 200-freestyle relay qualifying.

Highland Park: Qualified in two relays and five individual events in Class 5A.

Southlake Carroll: Ended a five-year state title drought a year ago and is positioned to defend with no worse than second-best qualifying time in three relays.

Individuals to watch

Boys

Jed Michael Jones, Sr., Lovejoy: Yale pledge will compete in 5A 500 free, 200 IM.

Conor McKenna, So., Frisco Wakeland: Owns second-best 5A qualifying time in butterfly.

Jackson Miller, Jr., Southlake Carroll: The 2018 6A state diving champion is qualified fourth this time.

Alex Sanchez, Sr., Plano: Texas A&M signee is qualified in 6A breaststroke, fly.

Kyle Sanchez, Sr., Mansfield Lake Ridge: Texas A&M signee is defending 6A diving state champion.

Eric Stelmar, Sr., Mansfield Legacy: Alabama signee holds No. 2 qualifying time in 5A 100 back, No. 4 in 100 free.

Girls

Corbyn Cormack, Jr., Southlake Carroll: No. 2 seed in 6A 200 IM, No. 4 in breaststroke.

Hailey Hernandez, Jr., Southlake Carroll: Two-time defending 6A champion diver.

Maddie Mechling, Sr., Mansfield: Alabama signee is top qualifier in 6A 200 IM, No. 3 in 100 back.

Joelle Reddin, Jr., Frisco Lone Star: No. 2 qualifying time in 5A 500 free, 200 IM.

Kiara Xanthos, Fr., McKinney North: Top qualifying time in 5A 100 breaststroke.

Kit Kat Zenick, Sr., Southlake Carroll: Ohio State signee is top 6A qualifier in 50, 100 freestyle.

Full schedule for Friday, Saturday

Friday’s semifinals

TimeEvent
8:00 a.m.UIL coaches packets available
8:15-9:45 a.m.5A swim warm up and dive practice
10:00 a.m.5A swimming prelims and diving prelims
3:45-5:15 p.m.6A swim warm up and dive practice
5:30 p.m.6A swimming prelims and diving prelims

Saturday’s finals

TimeEvent
8:15-9:15 a.m.5A swim warm up and dive practice
9:30 a.m.5A swimming and diving finals
2:15-3:15 p.m.6A swim warm up and dive practice
3:30 p.m.6A swimming and diving finals

*Via the UIL

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