NORMAN — The Norman North boys have received most of the attention and accolades in the last year — and with good reason, after their state title a year ago and another possibly on the horizon this weekend — but they are no longer the only contenders coming out of Norman.
The North girls began the season knowing they were good but with no idea exactly how good. That began to change in December at a swimming meet with all three Edmond schools, when the Timberwolves surprised more than just themselves by winning the dual. Pretty soon, state champion Madie Sarantakos and her teammates were thinking about joining their teammates on the podium, something that fueled them for the rest of the season.
That motivation culminated in a resounding victory at regionals last week, when the Timberwolves defeated their primary rivals Edmond North by 30 points. And as the T-Wolves head into the first day of the state swim meet today at the Edmond Aquatic Center, it’s something they believe will lead them to the first state title in program history.
“Beating them last week definitely gave us more confidence and unified us to take state as a team,” said Angela Yang, a member of North’s 400 freestyle relay that won the regional race by more than five seconds “We’re more sure of ourselves now, and we’re ready for state.”
Led by junior Justin Wu, who has his sights set on several state records this weekend, North’s boys could repeat as champions and give North and coach Kent Nicholson a clean sweep, something he’s hesitant to even consider.
“As long as we’ve worked to win even our first one, to win both would just be incredible,” he said. “The goal is always to win state, but there’s so many races and that’s not what we’re focusing on right now. We’re focused on the little things and trying not to gander at the big picture yet. But we got all the kids into state that we needed to to have a chance at that.”
It’s been a banner year for all of Norman’s swimming programs, coached by Nicholson. Norman High also excelled at the regional meet, qualifying more swimmers for the state meet than expected. Several, including Jesse Gibson, who will compete in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, are looking for top-three finishes this weekend.
It’s a weekend that could be a historic one for North if the Timberwolves have their way. While a state tournament is the immediate goal, they also have their eyes on something a little bigger.
“We want to show how great we can be and make swimming a bigger sport here,” freshman Tiffany Wu said. “We’re hoping that maybe we can even get a new pool built.”
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