As the swimming and diving season approaches the midway point, Sedona Red Rock High School’s team is making progress with hopes of getting as many swimmers qualified for the state meet as possible.
Some individuals took a big step at the Scorpions’ first qualifying meet, the Saturday Night Fever Invitational, on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Chandler Pool.
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“For some of the newbies it was an experience at a bigger meet under the lights, which makes it even cooler for them,” head coach A. Jay Bronson said. “About eight to 10 swimmers are going to state or are on the bubble for when we go to regionals.”
Freshman Andrew Tate and junior Zoe Porteous, who also swim with club teams in the offseason, were the two standouts at the meet with a host of teams from all three divisions of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
Tate took 10th overall in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:55.26 and sixth in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:11.79.
Porteous took 10th in the 200-yard individual medley [2:23.59] and tied for 11th in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:06.49.
Each was the highest placing swimmer from Division III in those events.
Freshman Zach Dana was 29th in the 100-yard breaststroke [1:15.22] and 23rd in the 200 individual medley [2:29.09]. One Division III swimmer beat him in the breaststroke and two in the IM.
On the girls side the 200-yard freestyle relay is already two seconds off of the school record, 1:49.66, which was set last year. On the other hand, Bronson looked for more from the 400-yard freestyle relay team.
“I think it was reality check with the girls 4 x 100 team,” Bronson said. “We hoped they would be faster by now. Maybe it has to do with the training or them having back-to-back swims, so they were tired. It’s something to improve upon moving forward.”
The boys 400 freestyle relay took 12th [3:54.63], as did the girls’ team [4:13.84]. The girls 200 freestyle relay team took eighth [1:51.15].
One individual swim that stood out for the girls was senior captain Brittany Medel’s 500 freestyle. Medel dropped nearly 30 seconds, finishing in 6:51.69, which Bronson estimates her at 22nd in the state rankings.
Rather than have set time standards for the state meet in Division III, the top 24 individuals from each event and the top 16 relay teams get the nod.
This leaves things relatively mysterious as the season progresses. It also means that the swimmers have to bring their best at each of the state-qualifying meets, of which the Scorpions have two remaining.
Five other Division III teams were present at the meet; only one team placed higher than the Red Rock girls [15th overall] and two were better than the boys [15th overall]. Nonetheless it is not time to think about the competition.
“Looking at the other teams, we placed well against them, but more than that we wanted individuals and relays to qualify,” Bronson said.
On Sept. 28, the previous Thursday, the Scorpions hosted Division III opponent Bourgade Catholic High School. Red Rock earned a big victory; the girls won 96-57 and the boys won 116-45 for a 212-102 combined victory.
“The dual meets are our bread and butter right now because we can with depth,” Bronson said. “So far all of our meets have been tri or quad meets so we don’t get to use that depth as much as we’d like to.”
That depth was the difference. Even if a Bourgade swimmer took first, the Scorpions would finish second, third and fourth.
The meet also allowed some of the more veteran swimmers a chance to swim off events to give them a break from their regular events. That did not change their competitive demeanor, however.
“More than anything because we swam within ourselves, even knowing we could beat them with depth. They kept racing even if they were behind or ahead,” Bronson said.
The newcomers turned in solid performances as well. At this point in the season, they have established themselves in the team.
Marked on the team’s calendars are three more big meets. First is the cross-valley rivalry with Mingus Union High School for the Mingus Cup, which the Scorpions have not won for two years.
After that are the Small Schools Championships and the regional meet, the last two chances to qualify for state. The swimmers have three to four weeks left to prepare.
The team next races at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at home against Scottsdale Christian Academy and Tempe Preparatory Academy.