Texas runs its high school state championships this week in Austin at the University of Texas. We’ll briefly preview the teams & swimmers to watch in both divisions.
The top two finishers at each of Texas’s 8 regional meets qualify for state ‘automatically.’ They’re listed in the “automatic qualifiers” document below. The next 8 swimmers or relays in each event make the state meet as “call ups,” listed in those documents below.
5A (Small Schools)
Ana Herceg, Pflugerville Weiss
A sophomore last year, Herceg finished second behind standout Kaitlynn Sims in the 500 free, but actually upset Sims for the 200 free title in a 5A state record 1:46.39. This year, Herceg comes in as the top seed in both distance freestyles, and has a chance to take over Sims’ mantle – and perhaps chase her 500 free record.
Ava Longi, Lyndon Baines Johnson / JoJo Daspit, Montgomery
A pair of seniors should battle for the sprint titles on the girls side. Longi was second in the 50 last year (23.38) behind senior Amelia Liu. Meanwhile Daspit won the 100 (50.41) over Liu and Longi (51.00). This year, Longi carries in top seeds in both (23.38/50.83).
Kaitlyn Owens, A&M Consolidated
Junior Owens could put herself in the mix with Longi and Daspit in the 50 free, but her big event is going to be the 100 back, where she’s the top seed by 2.4 seconds. Her career-best of 53.72 would beat the current 5A state record of 54.13 set in 2015. With a drop, she could eventually challenge Lucie Nordmann’s overall state record of 52.48.
Corby Furrer, Georgetown
Georgetown dominated last year, winning the meet by 82 points and sweeping the free relays. But Furrer is the only returner who was on both of those relays last year. He had two thrillers individually: then a sophomore, Furrer won the 500 free by 0.15 seconds and was second in the 200 free by 0.01 seconds. He has a shot to sweep both this season, but the field looks equally tough. Furrer had an excellent Winter Juniors, though, and his new career-bests (1:37.85/4:26.42) could challenge 5A state records (1:37.19/4:25.71).
Elijah Sohn, Aledo
Sohn held off Furrer at the end of the 200 free last year, going 1:38.83 for the win. He went 1:37.65 back in December, and should challenge the state record there along with Furrer. Sohn is also a real factor in the 100 free, where he was third last year (46.22) behind two seniors. Sohn went 45.03 at Winter Juniors in December.
Jed Michael Jones, Lucas Lovejoy
Last year’s 200 IM champ (1:49.89), Jones comes in seeded just third, but that isn’t to be taken too seriously – he cut about two seconds at state last year. Maybe more intriguing is Jones’ shot at a double. He was 3rd in the 500 free last year in 4:34.36, and returns as one of the chief threats to Furrer in that event, provided he has another big state meet drop.
Max Hardt, Friendswood
Last year’s state runner-up in the 100 breast in 56.77, Hardt went 55.70 back in December at Winter Juniors. That time would challenge the 5A state record of 55.67 set in 2017. That record is under assault from all angles, though, as returning A finalists Mark Eberhard (56.18 this year) and Alex Lynch (56.24 this year) have both been fast this high school season.
6A (Big Schools)
Emma Sticklen, Taylor
A two-event champ last year as a junior, Sticklen has a shot at two state records in her senior campaign. Sticklen was 51.88 in the 100 fly last year to break the 6A and overall state records, besting Lillie Nordmann by two tenths. Both return for another showdown this week. Sticklen was also 53.01 to win the 100 back by a second and a half last year, coming within six tenths of a Lucie Nordmann state 6A and overall record.
Lillie Nordmann, The Woodlands
The younger Nordmann, who is a senior, is the returning champ in the 200 free, where she’s chasing a state record that has stood since the super-suit era of 2009. Samantha Tucker was 1:44.64 that year; Nordmann was 1:45.55 at this meet a year ago. She comes in as the top seed by two seconds. Nordmann should also battle Sticklen for the 100 fly title and record – Nordmann was 52.08 for runner-up honors last year.
Kit Kat Zenick, Southlake Carroll
Last year, the junior Zenick swam the 50 free and 100 fly, but this year, she’ll avoid the Sticklen-Nordmann logjam in the fly by taking on the 100 free. Zenick has a shot at a sprint sweep as well as state records. She was 22.81 last year for second in the 50 free, behind 6A record-setter Emma Stephenson. Zenick went 22.40 in December, so watch for her to challenge both that record and the Texas overall record of 22.32 from Julia Cook. Zenick is also the top seed in the 100 free, and her lifetime-best 48.81 would rattle the state 6A (48.53) and overall (48.44) records.
Dalton Lowe, Spring
Lowe won the 100 fly last year (48.18), but he’s got his sights on much bigger targets this year. First, he has a real shot to break the 6A and overall state records in that event – they’re set at 47.07, but Lowe went 47.09 at Winter Juniors in December. Lowe could also add a second title. He’s the fastest returner in the 50 free after going 20.20 last year.
Seth Reno, Clear Falls
Lowe’s biggest challenger in the 50 is probably Reno, the Clear Falls junior who doesn’t appear on last year’s state results. Reno went lifetime-bests of 20.38 and 45.07 in the sprints this high school season, making big drops in both, including from 47.7 in the 100 as of last fall. Though Jimmy Feigen’s state records (19.4/43.0) are a tough sell in those events, Reno could be looking at an out-of-nowhere sprint sweep.
Matthew Tannenberger, Conroe The Woodlands
The senior Tannenberger has swapped the 200 IM (where he was 10th last year) for the 200 free, and could threaten to sweep the distance races. He was 4:27.64 for third in the 500 last year, finishing behind two seniors. At 4:24.56 this year, he’s the top incoming seed by two and a half seconds. Meanwhile his new 200 free entry is the meet’s fastest by half a second (1:37.53) and better than last year’s runner-up and top returner Victor Tremblay‘s 1:38.01.
Vincent Ribeiro, Round Rock
Round Rock senior Ribeiro is the defending champ in the 200 IM after going 1:47.98 last year. He was 1:47.01 at Winter Juniors. Meanwhile Ribeiro was the runner-up in the 100 breast last year (55.76) behind a graduated senior, and his new career-best 55.66 should put him in the hunt there. Keep an eye out, though, for Mitchell Mason (54.78 at Winter Juniors), Jaden Luo (55.40 this high school season) and Alex Sanchez (54.83 at Winter Juniors), all returning A finalists who have been quicker this year.