By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Timberwolves are heading to Jenks with a single goal in mind: winning a state championship.
That’s the mindset at Norman North, where the boys head to the state meet Friday and Saturday as one of the favorites to win a state title.
And they do it with depth. The T-Wolves have a loaded roster, with both upperclassmen as well as freshmen and sophomores contributing to a dominating regular season of meets. At the Mid-State conference meet two weeks ago, North won 13 events, with sophomore Justin Wu setting a conference record in the 200 freestyle and freshman Maddie Sarantakos, who swam a full second faster than the runner-up in the 50 freestyle.
Things won’t be nearly as easy at the state meet as they were at the conference meet, where North won both team titles going away. In Jenks, the T-Wolves will face plenty of competition, especially from the hometown Trojans.
Not that the Timberwolves are worried about the pressure.
“We know it’s going to be tough, but we’re optimistic,” senior Alex Zhu said. “We’re not expecting anything, but we’re going to fight for it.”
The group has been prepping for this meet since last season, when they realized they had a legitimate chance at a title this year.
“For some of us, this is our last meet,” senior Kendon McGehee said. “And we know how close we are. I’m going to pour my heart out and leave it all in the pool.”
All four Norman teams are close, practicing alongside one another twice a day every day. That has created a sense of camaraderie for the T-Wolves as the boys build toward a possible state title.
“I feel like I’m an honorary member,” said North senior Dovie Rayburn, who besides rooting for her teammates is looking to finish as high as second place in the 100 freestyle. “Over the last year I’ve really grown up and learned a sense of team. I’m really excited for them and for this last meet.”
But the North boys aren’t the only Norman team to enter the state meet with high aspirations. The Tigers, third-place finishers on both the boys and girls side at the conference meet, are looking to better their performances at the highest level.
One of those is NHS senior Shelby Brown, who said she is feeling more confident than ever before about the 500 freestyle after winning the event at the conference meet.
“I’ve been looking good with my times, and I’m excited for the meet,” she said. “This is my last-ever high school meet. I’ve been working toward this since I was eight, and it’s the last chance I’m going to have to get it done.”
For the NHS boys, who finished third at the conference meet just behind Edmond Memorial, the goal is to beat the Bulldogs and improve their times in the year’s final meet.
“We got second in the 200 and 400 relays at conference behind North, and we’re really close to them,” senior captain Justus Gibson said. “To get second at state would be a great accomplishment. We’ve come a long way this year and it’s gone by really fast. We want to make this the best state experience possible.”
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