Southlake Carroll Sweeps 2019 Texas 6A State Championships

2019 Texas High School Swimming & Diving Championships – 6A

  • February 15th-16th, 2019
  • Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center, Austin, Texas
  • 25y, prelims day 1, finals day 2
  • Live Meet Results

The Southlake Carroll swimming & diving dynasty of the 2000s grew by 2 on Saturday in Austin, Texas. For the 9th-straight season, the Carroll boys emerged as the champions in the classification for the state’s biggest schools (6A), and they did it this year without winning a single event. They were joined atop the podium by the girls’ team this year, who, thanks in part to a 1-2 finish from divers Hailey Hernandez and Bridget O’Neil for the 2nd-straight year, won their first team title since 2013.

The Woodlands placed 2nd in both meets.

Editor’s Note: while the meet is the 6A Championship, there are not 6 state championship meets for public schools in Texas. Instead, there are only 2: 6A, for the state’s biggest high schools, and the 5A meet, which encompasses all 5A & under teams.

Girls’ Meet Recap

Top 5 Team Scores:

  1. Carroll – 298
  2. The Woodlands – 221
  3. Flower Mound – 198
  4. Katy Taylor – 159
  5. Kingwood – 154

The Southlake girls swam to a dominant 77-point margin of victory in Austin on Saturday. In a Texas girls’ meet that’s usually very competitive, having been decided by 1 point multiple times this decade, that’s the biggest margin of victory since at least 2010.

For senior and Harvard commit Natalie Whalen, the meet represented a powerful punctuation on the end of her high school career. A multi-time regional champion, Whalen entered the meet with 6 top-5 finishes individually at the state meet: the most possible through 3 years. In that period, though, she had never finished better than 3rd in any event, until the 200 IM final. There, she swam a lifetime best of 2:01.41 to win her first-ever state championship, beating out her sophomore teammate Corbyn Cormack thanks to a 55.3 opening 100 yard split.

For Whalen, a swimmer whose best events (400 IM, 200 fly, 200 back) aren’t high school events, that win was a shining moment early in the meet.

Carrol then picked up their first relay win (and 2nd swimming win) in the meet’s finale: the 400 free relay. There, the team of Kit Kat ZenickRiley FrancisNatalie Whalen, and Ashley Zettle combined for a 3:22.90. That was an emphatic 5-second margin of victory over the races’ runner-up from the Woodlands to underscore the team’s scoring dominance. A 49.75 leadoff from Zenick was the team’s best split, and ranked 2nd among all splits behind only USA Junior National Teamer Lillie Normdann, who split 49.60 on the Woodlands’ leadoff.

Of the 8 A finals relays in this race, none had more than 1 senior, including 2 with 0 seniors.

While Southlake Carroll’s win was focused on a balanced team effort, there was plenty of star-power elsewhere in the meet to fill in the gaps. That includes two Meet Records, the first of which came from Stratford senior Emma Stephenson in the 50 free. She swam a 22.67 to beat the aforementioned Zenick (22.81) in the final. That time also snuck .01 seconds under the old 6A State Record of 22.68 that was set by current Stanford freshman Lucie Nordmann in 2017 when she swam at the Woodlands.

Julia Cook from Bryan High still holds the overall State Record of 22.32 that was set at the 2017 5A meet.

Coming out of the dive break, in the very next swimming event, another State Record went down. This time, the record-setting swim belonged to Katy-Taylor junior Emma Sticklen, who swam 51.88 in the 100 fly final. The Woodlands’ Lillie Nordmann also undercut the old State Record in 2nd with a 52.08, but Sticklen beat her to the wall for the 2nd straight year. Last season, the two finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, behind Dakota Luther’s 6A and Texas State Record time of 52.16 to win.

Sticklen later added a 53.01 in the 100 back for a 2nd individual state title as part of her team’s 4th-place effort overall. She won the 100 back by over a second-and-a-half.

Nordmann, meanwhile, shifted her first event of the meet from the 200 IM, where she was 3rd last year (but was the top non-graduating swimmer), to the 200 free this year. She won the race in 1:45.55, continuing the family affair in this race: her older sister Lucie won the event last year.

Other Event Winners:

  • The Woodlands squeezed past Southlake Carroll in a 2-team race in the girls’ 200 medley relay final. The Woodlands won that race in 1:42.56, while Carroll took 2nd in 1:42.78. Carroll had a huge lead of over a second at the final exchange, but a furious finish from Woodlands anchor Valerie Anne Staffeldt (22.99) that was 8-tenths better than her individual final set up a thrilling finish.
  • Ella Collins, a senior from Austin Anderson, won the girls’ 50 free in 49.53, beating out Austin Westlake senior Emma Wheal (50.22). Wheal beat Collins at the district level, but Collins won at both Regionals and State, dropping her time in each round while Wheal’s results stayed about the same. Wheal is headed to Stanford next year while Collins is committed to Virginia.
  • Cy Creek freshman Hayden Miller won the girls’ 500 free in 4:50.33. For Cy Creek, a school best known for its water polo program but that has turned out some top-tier swimmers, this is their first girls’ swimming state title since 2009.
  • Klein, who was DQed in prelims of thee 200 medley relay, won the 200 free relay in 1:34.46. The team of Charlotte Longbottom (23.84), Halli Williams (24.01), Madeline Vindiola (23.68), and Jordan Hennig (22.93) combined to clear runners-up Flower Mound by more than a second. The fastest split of the field was a 22.44 anchor from sophomore KyAnh Truong of Westwood High, which finished 6th as a team overall in the race.
  • Longbottom, 2 races after leading off the winning free relay, won the girls’ 100 breaststroke in 1:02.68. The swimmer expected to be her biggest competition, last year’s 3rd-place finisher Alaya Smith from Heath, didn’t swim the high school season this year. Smith is attending an online school this year, but plans to be back at Heath for her senior year.

Boys’ Meet Recap

Top 5 Team Scores:

  1. Southlake Carroll – 246.5
  2. Conroe The Woodlands – 216
  3. Kingwood – 188
  4. Seven Lakes – 150
  5. Smithson Valley – 147

Every state title season is a little different, even when you’ve won 9 straight. This year’s Southlake Carroll win was noteworthy in that the Dragons didn’t win a single event in the boys’ meet after the graduation of their star senior Jack LeVant. Unphased, the team still was able to win the meet by 30.5 points – smaller than the 41-point margin from last year, and the 101 point margin from the year before, but by no-means a nail-biter of a finish.

The Smithson Valley boys made an impact with wins in the 200 medley and 200 free relays, leading to a program-best 5th-place finish.

In the opening 200 medley relay, they finished 1st in 1:30.73. That broke a 20-year old State Record in the event of 1:31.25 set by The Woodlands in 1999. The winning relay included Joe Hunt (22.59), Carter Hill (26.13), Konnar Klinksiek (21.37), and Amechi Nwaeze (20.74).

Race Video, courtesy KSAT:

Smithson Valley then won again in the boys’ 200 free relay, with the team of Shaun Besch (22.11), Joe Hunt (20.53), Amechi Nwaeze (20.80), and Konnar Klinksiek (19.82) combining to win in 1:23.26. Those are 3 of the 4 same swimmers as on the 200 medley relay.

Smithson Valley, in spite of a couple of big swims, didn’t quite have the depth t0 keep up with teams like Carroll and The Woodlands. That was highlighted in the 400 free relay, where in spite of using Nwaeze and Hunt on 3rd relays (46.24 and 46.30, respectively), they only finished 12th.

Smithson Valley is one of the smallest public non-magnet, non-charter schools in 6A in Texas with an enrollment of 2,768. By comparison, the state’s biggest high school, Allen High, has an enrollment of 6,664, while The Woodlands has 4,435 students. Carroll only has 2,775 students, though, and so their swimming depth bucks the enrollment trend.

Other Event Winners:

  • Keller Central’s Donald Scott had a huge meet, droppig more than a second from his best time in the 200 free to win in 1:36.54, and later adding a win in the 100 breaststroke in 55.19. Scott will fit well into the Michigan program he’s joining in the fall: Mike Bottom has had a lot of success with swimmers that don’t fit into traditional molds, which applies to Scott as a breaststroke and middle-distance freestyle duo. Those swims mark Keller Central’s first-ever state titles in boys’ swimming (the girls got a 100 breaststroke title from Michelle Martinez at the 4A meet in 2006: just 3 years after the school opened). Scott was just 14th in both of his events (200 IM, 100 breast) at last year’s state meet.
  • Round Rock junior Vincent Ribeiro won the boys’ 200 IM in 1:47.98, which knocks about a tenth from his lifetime best at Winter Juniors West in December.
  • Klein’s Caleb Duncan won the boys’ 50 free in 20.09. He was just 5th in the event at lasst year’s state meet. Spring High School’s Dalton Lowe took 2nd in 20.20: his 2nd-straight silver medal.
  • One (swimming) event later, Lowe won the title in the boys’ 100 fly in 48.18. That jumped him from 5th last year (where three seniors all were sub-48).
  • Briggs Shiller of Bellaire High School won the boys’ 500 free in 4:22.72. That’s a 4-second lifetime best for a swimmer who we haven’t found any public college commitment for yet. That win is Bellaire’s first state title in boys’ swimming since 1975.
  • Woodlands sophomore Tyler Hulet won the boys’ 100 back in 48.82 (after a 48.51 in prelims). His best time timing into high school championship season was a 50.04 from Winter Juniors. This continues the trend of big-time sophomore backstrokers nationally this weekend (see here, with more to come).
  • The Woodlands finished the meet with a win in the boys’ 400 free relay in 3:02.73 with the team of Nathaniel Hickman-Chow (46.28), Luke Jorris (46.47), Hulet (45.51), and Matthew Tannerger (44.47). All of those but the leadoff Hickman-Chow are underclassmen. Carroll finished 2nd in 3:03.56 (a relay with 4 seniors), which was more-than-enough to secure the title.

Welcoming-home party for Southlake:

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Dragon

Gold in the 200 IM and Silver in 100 Breast. Well done Vincent!

Joyful and Grateful Mom

Coach Murphy has built a strong, sustainable program at Southlake Carroll. He cares about the whole person and knows what it takes to develop students into swimmers and into young men and women, able to compete both in the pool and importantly in life.

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