NORMAN — For the Norman swimming teams, the stretch run of the season begins today.
The Mid-State Conference meet begins today at 1 p.m. at Oklahoma City Community College, the final large meet for the squads before the state meet in Jenks in two weeks.
And while the Norman North boys, who have put up exemplary results all year, may dominate the headlines there are a number of Norman swimmers who are expected to do well this weekend.
North’s boys’ team, led by Tomas Elder and Justin Wu, is the favorite to win the meet and compete for a state title in two weeks. The NHS boys’ squad, led by a group of six seniors, aren’t expected to finish as highly, though they do have one particular goal in mind for the meet.
“They’ll probably land behind Edmond Memorial, but they’re trying really hard to beat them,” coach Kent Nicholson said. “If they do well, they have a shot to beat them.”
The girls’ side is led by Shelby Brown, a senior at NHS who will swim in the 500 freestyle and the 100 backstroke at the conference meet and will likely place in those same events at state, Nicholson said. For North, Dovie Rayburn and freshman Madie Sarantakos are expected to lead the T-Wolves.
While all four Norman teams want to place highly at the conference meet, what’s more important is just that they swim well before getting ready for state.
“We have a few kids who aren’t qualified for state yet, but for the most part we don’t have to worry about that,” Nicholson said. “We’re just trying to get a little faster and swim well this weekend because that means you’re in good shape for state.”
Ahearn makes halftime appearance: Norman High senior Patrick Ahearn has been steadily recovering since the grisly boating accident in August that cost him part of his leg. Since then, the cross country captain has served as an inspiration and teammate to his friends on the squad, and he has progressed from a wheelchair to crutches.
He took another step on Tuesday, showing off his new prosthetic to the crowd when he shot a half-court shot at halftime of the boys’ game against Southmoore. Ahearn lightheartedly described it as a shot “for glory and fame.” The senior received a standing ovation from those watching after the shot bounced off the backboard.
NHS streaking, but tough schedule looms: Norman High, with Tuesday’s 53-48 victory over Southmoore, further established itself as a dangerous squad that is improving down the stretch.
Returning Jay Finley to the lineup will only serve to help the Tigers take another step. Unfortunately for NHS, winners of three of four, the schedule isn’t getting any easier.
After tonight’s game with top-ranked Midwest City, the Tigers travel to second-ranked Edmond Memorial on Tuesday.
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