The third-year Decatur swim program reached new heights Tuesday, earning four medals at the Class 4A Region II finals at the Keller Natatorium.
Decatur junior Hayley Raasch took second in the backstroke. Freshman Haley Dennard brought home bronze medals in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races. The Decatur 200-yard freestyle relay squad of Raasch, Casie Morgan, Guirnalda Lopez and Dennard also finished third to get on the medal stand.
Decatur overall placed in the top eight in 11 regional events.
“To be in the finals in 11 events was huge for us,” said Decatur coach Doris Dennard. “The kids all dropped their times. Our relay dropped seven seconds.
“It was really a great season. The kids performed well and did their best. Even though we didn’t get anyone to state, we dropped our times.”
Only the top finisher in each event advances to state automatically. The next eight best times from across the eight regions also advance to state.
As a team, the Lady Eagles finished seventh with 145 points. Byron Nelson won the region crown with 353.
The Eagles were 11th with 80 points. Byron Nelson also claimed the boys’ title with 332.5 points.
Freshman brings home hardware
Decatur freshman Haley Dennard ended her first high school season with an impressive showing and plenty of hardware.
Dennard took third in Tuesday’s finals in the 50-yard freestyle in 26.39 seconds, beating her time from the day before of 26.83.
She followed that race by hitting the wall in the 100 at 59.01 for her second bronze medal.
Dennard picked up her third medal as the anchor leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay. Her 26.62 leg helped her teammates of Hayley Raasch, Casie Morgan and Guirnalda Lopez finish in 1:52.43.
“It was exciting,” Dennard said about the medals. “I tried so hard the first day, it was hard to swim fast two days in a row. In the 50, I was able to drop my time, which is hard to do because little mistakes cost you so much.”
The freshman ended the meet by helping the same quartet finish fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay in 4:14.84. The group cut seven seconds off its prelims time.
“That was a big accomplishment,” she said. “We were all dead at the end of the meet.”
Raasch narrowly misses state bid
Decatur junior Hayley Raasch came within a second of qualifying for state in the 100-yard backstroke.
Raasch took second in 1:08.12 to Denton Ryan’s Mandi Sutherland, who finished in 1:07.05.
“I wanted it so bad and left it all out there,” Raasch said. “I hit the lane rope on the backstroke. I don’t know if that cost me. But there’s always next year.”
Raasch also took fifth in the 200-yard medley in 2:32.67.
She said she was grateful for the opportunity to compete after last year when she qualified for regionals and then had to have an emergency appendectomy.
“This was really redeeming after last year with the surgery,” Raasch said.
Talley finishes seventh in 50
Decatur senior David Talley’s meteoric rise in two years of competitive swimming ended in the region finals Tuesday with a seventh-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle.
Talley, who earned the program’s first district title in January, finished in 24.19 seconds.
He said a slip on the boards cost him a chance to compete for a medal.
“It was pretty devastating,” Talley said. “It cost me two seconds. It’s one of those errors that you can’t control. I wished it wouldn’t have happened.”
Talley is still proud of what he was able to accomplish in two short years.
“It’ll be nice to look back to where I was and how I was able to compete on that level,” he said.
Talley was also part of the Decatur boys relay teams that made the finals. The quartet of Talley, Dosson Lewthwaite, Daniel Smyers and Arin Blaylock was eighth in the 200 medley in 1:59.29. That group was eighth in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:41.6.
Blaylock took sixth in the 100-yard butterfly finals in 1:04.44.
Boyd’s Bryans takes fourth
Boyd’s lone swimmer, Jake Bryans, represented the Yellowjackets with a fourth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
He finished with a personal best time of 1:02.23, which he was a full second better than his prelims time of 1:03.82.