Enid’s swimmers, after being delayed by snow and cold temperatures last week, will get a second shot at the Class 6A state swim meet Wednesday and Thursday.
The preliminaries — the boys at 10 a.m. and the girls at 4 p.m. — will be Wednesday at Jenks High School. The top eight qualifiers will advance to Thursday’s finals with the next eight going to the consolation finals.
“Being out of the pool might have been a blessing because it gave us some more time to be physically prepared,’’ said Enid coach Lyndsay Watts. “We were already mentally prepared.’’
The layoff might have been good news for junior Dane Griffin, who had to withdraw from the 500 free at the regionals because of back pain. He is seeded sixth in the 200 IM (2:04.36) and is slated to be in both the 200 and 400 free relays.
“Right now, he’s going,” Watts said. “He’s been doing OK, but we’re going to sub him out in the relays in the preliminaries. Thursday, he will go in all of the events.’’
The Plainsmen are seeded fourth in the 200 (1:34.32) and eighth in the 400 free (3:34.39). Cade Couchman, Jaziel Estrada and Luke Denney are scheduled to join him in the 200 free while Denney, Statton Mantz and Couchman will complete the 400 lineup. Mantz will be in the 200 free and Weston Stewart would go in the 400 free for the prelims.
Griffin, a move-in from Georga, has been credited with Couchman, a transfer from Chisholm, from transforming the boys from having a novice mentality to a contender.
The Plainsmen — for the first time since regional qualifying was initiated a few years ago — have qualified at least one entrant in every event. The EHS boys had only one individual qualifier (Luke Denney) last year.
The Pacers’ Elsa Stewart has qualified in both the 50 free and 100 free and is teaming with Jordan Pierce, Daniella Sanchez and Gabby Mendoza-Lara in both the 200 and 400 free relays.
“It’s huge for the boys to have qualified in every event,” Watts said.
Couchman, a Chisholm transfer, broke Matt Berry’s 30-year school record in the 50 free with a 21.83 at regionals. He is the No. 4 seed in that event. He is the No. 6 seed in the 100 butterfly (54.93).
Couchman, a junior, has swum competitively just over two years.
“He’s gone from being a novice and playing with friends in the pool to being a potential Division I swimmer,’’ Watts said. “Nothing about him has surprised me. He is in the gym as much or more than any kid we have. He is in the pool as much or more than any kid we have. He works just as hard, if not harder, than any kid on the team. What he has accomplished is not by chance. It was fun to watch him break the record last week. He’s going to go after it again.’’
Denney is seeded No. 14 in the 50 free (23.37) and No. 17 in the 100 free (52.35).
Other individuals competing (and their seeds) are Mantz, 200 free, 15th, 1:59.10; Stewart, 21st, 500 free, 5:31.26); Luke Rogers, 19th, 100 back, 1:04.09; Estrada, 17th, 100 breast, 1:08.53 and Weston Johnson, 21st, 100 breast, 1:10.11. The 200 free relay of Rogers, Estrada, Stewart and Brian Higbee are seeded 14th (1:53.47)
“The kids who will be swimming their first state meet have swam big meets with ACE,’’ Watts said. “State (high school) is just a different big meet. They will handle the pressure of a big meet just fine.’’
Stewart, a sophomore, will be swimming in her second state meet. She is seeded 22nd in the 50 free (26.92) and 20th in the 100 free. Stewart, Pierce, Sanchez and Mendoza-Lara are seeded 10th in the 200 free relay (1:51.47) and 15th in the 400 (4:10.97).
Stewart and Sanchez were part of a 200 and 400 free relay which were both ninth at state last year.
“Elsa has been a great motivator for the other girls,’’ Watts said. “When they are nervous, Elsa can get in touch with them. She tells them she is nervous too, but ‘we can do this ... she lads other people to be great as well ... things like that will make her a great employee or employer. She understands what she can get out of swimming.’’
Watts said her goals are to reach the championship or consolation finals in every event entered or have their fastest times of the season.