ENID, Okla. — Enid's swimmers, who didn't qualify an individual for last year's state championships, go into Friday's and Saturday's regionals at Jenks with high expectations.
Both teams are coming off championships at last month's Oklahoma Big 8 Conference meet in Edmond.
Individual qualifying begins Friday with the top eight in each event making Saturday's championship finals and the next eight reaching the consolation finals.
Relay qualifying and finals are Saturday.
The top 24 overall individual finishers (from the Jenks and Edmond regionals) will make the state field in two weeks. The top 16 overall relays also qualify.
Enid will be joined by Bartlesville, Bixby, Tulsa Washington, Broken Arrow, Choctaw, Claremore, Tulsa Edison Prep, Jenks, Muskogee, Owasso, Ponca City, Shawnee, Stillwater and Union.
"The competition at Jenks tends to be a little faster,'' said Enid coach Lyndsay Watts. "It will be the best against the best. If you're in the top 12, you're making it (to state). If you're in the top 16, you know you're going to be close.''
Enid qualified in only two events last year — the girls 200 and 400 free relays — but Watts sees better things in 2020. The numbers for both the Plainsmen and Pacers are both up meaning, unlike last season, EHS won't be taking its entire roster. The intrasquad competition to make regionals has strengthened the competitive spirit.
"We have gotten so much faster than we have been before," Watts said. "We have trained longer and harder. We have done some dry land drills which have been successful for all the kiddos.''
Daniella Sanchez, Alyssa Arambula and Lizzy Ostermaier are back from the 200 free relay team while Arambula, Ostermaier and Sydney Rogers qualified in the 400 free a year ago.
Freshman Elsa Stewart, who won the 200 and 500 frees at conference, will team with Arambula, Ostermaier and Sanchez in the 200 and 400 free relays. Rogers will join Victoria Lewis, Kelsey Martin and Jordan Pierce on the 200 medley relay. EHS won the 400 free and 200 medley at conference.
Sanchez and Arambula took individual golds in the 50 free and 100 butterfly at conference.
Stewart will be going in the 50 and 100 frees at regionals. Sanchez should contend in the 200 IM and 100 fly. Arambula (100 free), Martin (100 butterfly) and Ostermaier (100 back) are all given good chances to qualify as individuals by Watts.
"That grouping (200 and 400 frees) has the best chance among the girls to make state,'' Watts said. "Elsa will be one to definitely watch along with the senior girls because they are all at their peak right now. Elsa is a phenom. She is a hard worker which is why she is so great.''
Enid is ranked No. 13 in the region in the 200 medley, sixth in the 200 free relay and 10th in the 400 free relay.
Watts is hopeful about all three boys relays qualifying — 200 medley (Josue Espinal, Cody Higbee, Noah Johnson and Jayden Hines), the 200 and 400 frees (Statton Mantz, Luke Denney, Jaziel Estrada and Brian Higbee.
"We have so much talent on the boys side,'' Watts said. "We have been trying to figure out the best combination all year.''
Enid is seeded No. 10 in the 200 medley relay, eighth in the 200 free and 10th in the 400 free relay.
Watts said the Plainsmen best individual hopes to qualify should be Mantz, 200 free and 50 free; Denney, 50 free and 100 free; Jaziel Estrada,100 free and 100 breast; Brian Higbee, 100 free and 100 breast; Cody Higbee, 500 free. Cody Higbee (500 free) and Estrada (100 free) were Enid's individual conference champs.
"Jaziel Estrada has just come alive this year,'' Watts said. "He has a ton of potential. He is such a hard worker has been a great teammate. He has the whole package. It's been exciting to see improve and develop as a swimmer.''
Watts said coaches will try to follow the Edmond regional to have an idea what to shoot for.
"The times are vastly different one year to the next,'' she said. "We're going for a top 24 time. PRs (personal records) are definitely a secondary goal. Of you get that, you should be in the top 24.''