SPORTS HEADLINES

Decatur aims for new high-water mark

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, January 28, 2012

FAST GROUP - In its fourth year, the Decatur swim team will try to bring home a school-record for district titles Saturday at the 6-4A meet. The team produced two last year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur swim program hit a new, high-water mark last year with its first two individual district titles.

Saturday, the program expects to splash to a new level at the District 6-4A meet at the Denton Natatorium. The meet will begin at 10 a.m.

Decatur enters the meet with the top times in four events, including the girls 200-yard freestyle relay. In seven other events, Decatur swimmers are among the top three seeds.

“It’s exciting,” said Decatur sophomore Haley Dennard, the top seed in the 200 with a time of 2:10. “It’s good to have goals to work toward. Hopefully the next couple of weekends our hard work pays off.”

The top six finishers in each race will move on to the Class 4A Region II meet in Keller Feb. 10-11.

“The objective is get to regionals,” said Decatur coach Doris Dennard. “For the girls, all of our relays should get out. Individually, we should get a lot out, if everyone swims their race.”

The Decatur coach said their times are faster than past years.

The Lady Eagles enter district off a victory in the Wichita Falls dual meet. The squad also had a strong showing at the Carrollton-Farmers Branch meet.

Dennard said the team has been helped by several freshmen who previously competed with Quest Aquatics in USA Swimming.

“I have five freshmen that came to me out of Quest,” she said. “That helps.”

One of the freshmen who has made the biggest impact is Katey Rowland. In her first year of high school competition, Rowland has brought home victories in the 50 and 100 in several meets. She also has helped the Lady Eagles’ relays.

She enters the district meet with the top time in the 50, 25.56, and the 100, 55.6.

“It’s been really awesome,” Rowland said about her season. “I know God works in good ways, and I keep swimming for Him. I’m excited and want to do my best for my team.”

Rowland hopes to break through to earn a spot at state. Only the top swimmer in each region is guaranteed a state berth.

Rowland is seeded just ahead of freshman teammate Audry McCreary in the 100. McCreary has the third-best time in the 200 individual medley.

Another freshman, Kate Grant, will try to earn a regional bid in the tiring 500 freestyle. She is the third seed with a time of 6:10.43.

Grant said the endurance race is mentally taxing.

“If you go out too fast, you’re dead at the end,” she said. “If you start slow, you have too much left at the end.”

The Eagles will have five swimmers in competition Saturday. Arin Blaylock has the group’s top seed, third in the 100 butterfly. He finished third last year at district.

“I really hope to make it to regionals, and I have a good chance,” he said. “I’ve dropped two seconds off the fly.

Daniel Smyers and Logan Huff are seeded fifth and sixth in the 50 freestyle.

“We’ve been working a lot, and we’re ready for this,” Smyers said.

Huff added: “We have a good shot at going to regionals. We’ve all progressed with our times.”

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