A year ago, Decatur’s David Talley closed his first year of competitive swimming with an eighth-place finish at the district meet in the 50-yard freestyle.
Saturday, the senior swam a full two seconds faster and claimed a share of the District 6-4A title. Talley finished in 24.08, reaching the wall at the same time as Denton’s DJ Lang.
With the tie for first, Talley became Decatur’s first district champion swimmer.
“That’s big,” Talley said. “Even if I have to share it with someone, that’s cool. To get the first district title is huge.”
Talley had the lead after the turn. He and Lang both stretched for the wall with neither getting a clear advantage.
“I thought I had him off the block,” he said. “I swam my best race. That was fun. That’s how it’s supposed to go.”
Talley also qualified for regionals in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay. He took sixth in the 100 in 57.32.
Talley provided a strong anchor freestyle leg on the relay to bring home third. The team of Dosson Lewthwaite, Daniel Smyers, Arin Blaylock and Talley swam a 2:00.2.
Dennard wins 100
David Talley didn’t stay Decatur’s lone district champion for long.
Freshman Haley Dennard outstretched Byron Nelson’s Victoria Dahan to claim the 6-4A title in the 100-yard freestyle. Dennard finished in a personal best of 59.87.
“It was real close,” she said. “I felt like I could do it. I was stuck at 1:01 and finally dropped that.”
Her victory came after she finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle in 27:07.
“I think she got mad after the 50, and that spurned her on in the 100,” said Decatur coach Doris Dennard.
Blaylock earns bronze in butterfly
Entering the District 6-4A meet, Decatur junior Arin Blaylock had the seventh-best time in the butterfly with a 1:14.78.
He shattered that time, finishing in 1:06.33 to take third and earn a spot at regionals.
“That was fun,” Blaylock said. “I wasn’t expecting to get out of here with a medal.”
After the turn, Blaylock didn’t know where he was in the race compared to the rest of the field.
“I thought I was in second to last place,” he said.
He gave credit to Decatur coach Doris Dennard pushing him at practice.
“Coach has been making me do 125s and that helped me prepare for the 100,” he said.
Dennard said Blaylock cut the most time of any Decatur swimmers Saturday with his eight-second improvement.
Lady Eagles relay takes silver
The Decatur Lady Eagles closed the District 6-4A meet with a second-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The team of Casie Morgan, Guirnalda Lopez, Hayley Raasch and Haley Dennard swam a 4:22.4.
The group cut seven seconds off its seeding time.
“They swam well; all their splits were better,” said Decatur coach Doris Dennard.
Raasch brings home three silvers
Decatur’s Hayley Raasch narrowly missed winning a pair of gold medals, but she was not too disappointed with Saturday’s results.
The junior took second in the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard backstroke and 400-yard freestyle relay at the 6-4A meet.
“I’m taking home three silvers in four races,” she said. “My goal was to make it to regionals.”
Raasch swam a 2:34.52 in the medley, finishing second to Denton Ryan’s Kathryn Ray in 2:31.87. Raasch led the race through the butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke. Ray, who came into the meet with the top 100-yard freestyle time, passed Raasch on the final stroke.
“It was a good race,” Raasch said. “My breaststroke was two seconds faster, and my freestyle suffered. I felt that I died out at the end, and that happens.”
In the backstroke, Raasch took second in 1:08.84. Ryan’s Mandi Sutherland beat her to the wall by six-tenths of a second.
“That’s always a close race,” Raasch said. “I broke 1:09 for the first time this year.”
Bryans represents Boyd
The Boyd Yellowjackets’ one-man swimming team is heading to regionals.
Jake Bryans earned a spot on the medal stand in the 100-yard backstroke, taking second at the District 6-4A meet in 1:05.89.
“I’ve done better,” Bryans said. “I was taking it easy on them. It feels good. I’m representing Boyd.”
He narrowly missed qualifying for regionals in the 100-yard freestyle, taking seventh in 57.69.
Phariss makes regionals
Decatur’s Bailey Phariss was not in the top heat in the 100-yard breaststroke, but that did not stop her from earning a regional bid.
Phariss swam a 1:37.57 to get the last advancing spot.