Rowden splashes Lady Eagles to win

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, February 1, 2012
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FLYING TO FINISH - Decatur's Arin Blaylock splashes his way to the end of the pool in the 100-yard butterfly Saturday in the District 6-4 meet. Blaylock narrowly missed earning a trip to regionals in the event, finishing seventh. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Decatur’s Katey Rowden dove into the pool a few lengths behind Byron Nelson’s Suzanne Reckmeyer on the anchor leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay Saturday at the District 6-4A meet.

The freshman, who had previously claimed titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle races, methodically chased Reckmeyer down, pulling Decatur into the lead after the her final turn on the way to victory.

Rowden touched the wall at the Denton Natatorium in 3:58.72, securing Decatur’s first district title in a relay.

“I love playing catch-up,” Rowden said. “Our entire relay did good.”

Rowden joined Haley Dennard, Kate Grant and Audry McCreary on the relay that advances to the Class 4A Region II meet in Keller Feb. 10-11.

“Our next goal is state,” Dennard said. “We had tough competition here. Now we know what we’ve got to do.”

Decatur cut nearly two full seconds off its seed time of 4:00.22. Decatur coach Doris Dennard said they switched Rowden and Haley Dennard in the order, which helped.

“That switch helped with the time,” the Decatur coach said. “We still need to drop a few seconds. But three of the legs swam their best times.”

Haley Dennard got Decatur off to a strong start, finishing her 100 yards in 59.16 to put her team at the front of the pack.

“I knew I had to get the lead and set the tone for the relay,” she said.

Grant, who had swam the 500 freestyle earlier in the meet, followed Dennard by swimming a 1:04.13 that kept Decatur near the front.

“I was just trying to hold on to first,” Grant said.

McCreary dove in for the third leg and tried to hold off Byron Nelson’s Hannah Cooper. McCreary swam a 59.85 to keep Decatur within striking distance for Rowden to make the pass for the win.

GOLDEN MOMENT - Decatur's 400 freestyle relay team of Audry McCreary, Haley Dennard, Kate Grant and Katey Rowden captured the gold medal Saturday. Messenger photo by Richard Greene


The 400 freestyle relay title was one of three district titles for the Decatur girls Saturday, a new record for the program that is in its fourth year.

As a team, the Lady Eagles finished second with 105 points. Byron Nelson won the meet with 200 points.

Along with the three gold medals, Decatur claimed two silver medals and a bronze.

“We did good and made progress,” said Decatur coach Doris Dennard. “Two years ago, we were just happy to get someone on the [medal] box.”

The Lady Eagles turned in several personal bests, including Emily Howdeshell who cut 14 seconds off her 200 and 17 seconds off her 500 freestyle times.

“Emily was huge and Guirnalda [Lopez] cut her time,” Dennard said.

“Some of the kids swam their best times. Others didn’t but they swam their hardest. As long as you don’t leave anything in the water, it’s OK. Hopefully they saved their best times for regionals.”

The Lady Eagles will send swimmers to regionals in seven events.

Short on numbers, the Decatur boys took fourth with 23 points. The 200 freestyle relay team of Daniel Smyers, Robert Davila, Arin Blaylock and Logan Huff finished third in 1:46.42 and will move on to regionals.

“The boys fought hard,” Dennard said. “They just don’t have the numbers.”

WINNING REFLECTION - Decatur's Haley Dennard swims down the lane on the first leg of the 400 freestyle relay Saturday. Decatur won the relay. Messenger photo by Richard Greene


Decatur freshman Katey Rowden brought home the Girl Swimmer of the Meet award after earning three gold medals and a silver Saturday.

“I didn’t expect this,” Rowden said. “It’s all for the Lord.”

Rowden claimed her first title of the day, winning the 50 freestyle in 25.83. Teammate Haley Dennard finished third in 27.16.

Rowden followed up with a victory in the 100 freestyle, swimming 58.03.

“It was all God,” she said about her wins. “In the 50, I was nervous and excited. I was kind of all over the place. My 100 was OK. It wasn’t my best time.

“I feel blessed.”

Rowden also swam the opening leg of the 200 freestyle relay with Reagan Ralston, Audry McCreary and Dennard that took second in 1:49.8.


Decatur freshman Audry McCreary brought home a gold and two silver medals Saturday.

McCreary was on the district champion 400 relay and the second-place 200 relay.

McCreary took second in the 100 freestyle to her teammate Katey Rowden, swimming 59.9.

“I was trying to stick with Katey,” McCreary said. “I knew if I stuck with her I’d at least get second.”

She also earned a trip to regionals in the 200 individual medley, finishing fourth in 2:35.04.

“I’ve only been swimming three meets,” McCreary said.

McCreary was excited about the trip to regionals but even more ecstatic about the gear that comes with it.

“I’m so excited. I get my letterman jacket,” she said.


Decatur sophomore Haley Dennard finished fourth in the 200 freestyle, swimming 2:13.8.

Dennard, who won the 100 freestyle district title last year, led for much of the race before being caught in the final 50 yards.

“I was dead at the end,” she said. “There’s always another day. I have something to work for at regionals.”

Dennard finished third in the 50 freestyle to also advance.


Boyd’s lone swimmer Jake Bryans will move on to the Class 4A Region II meet in a pair of events.

Bryans finished fourth in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.11 and sixth in the 100 freestyle in 56.14.

Bryans qualified in the 100 freestyle in a second try. Meet officials ruled that there was an unfair start with the horn signaling twice. Bryans moved up from seventh to sixth in the second try.

“It was tough and it took a lot more out of me,” he said about swimming the 100 freestyle twice. “My backstroke wasn’t as fast because of it.”

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