NORMAN — A year ago, Kent Nicholson brought a change of clothes to the state swim meet in Jenks, just in case. It was a good idea, but the longtime Norman High and Norman North swim coach left them on the bus, a decision that didn’t work out very well when the boys won the state title and tossed him into the pool.
On Saturday, he made sure his wife had a change of clothes ready by the poolside.
And with good reason. The Timberwolves dominated from start to finish at the Class 6A state meet, and swept the championship, with the boys repeating at state champs and the girls winning the first title in program history.
“It was a rookie mistake, right?” Nicholson said of last year’s misstep that left him a cold walk back to the bus. “But really, I’m just so impressed with all of our teams this year.”
He wasn’t the only one. The T-Wolves won eight events at Saturday’s final, while junior Justin Wu broke the state records he set in the preliminaries of two events on Friday.
The North boys blew past the competition, defeating second-place Bartlesville by a score of 353-311, while the girls defeated their rivals Edmond North by an even greater margin than they did at the regional last weekend, winning 365-320. The NHS boys finished sixth and the NHS girls 12th.
It was a complete, team effort for North, and one that just a few months ago the Timberwolves didn’t expect to come seemingly so easily.
“We thought that we could do well, but we didn’t expect to be in this position,” said North sophomore Madie Sarantakos, who won the 100 butterfly and swam on several relays. “It was a rough season, but it was worth it. I was blessed with a great team this year.”
Wu’s star grew even brighter on Saturday. After setting state records as a sophomore this year, Wu moved to the 200 medley and 100 butterfly and excelled in those events as well. He set state records in the prelims on Friday and then broke those records with times of and 1:49.12 and 49.01, respectively.
It was a career-defining day for Wu, but the junior was more focused on the team title the T-Wolves repeated.
“It’s an added bonus when I get to beat my own record, but it’s not really about me,” he said. “It’s about our team, and all the guys working hard. We’re mostly juniors and underclassmen, and everyone is swimming well.”
For Nicholson, Saturday’s sweep was about more than just the talented swimmers or his time building the program. He credited the program from top to bottom, from assistant coach Jenny Crow to everyone involved with the middle school program in the Sooner Swim Club.
“Today we really get to enjoy the fruits of our labor,” he said. “It takes everyone in the program to make something like this happen.”
With both teams returning most of their swimmers next year, it’s something that may well happen again.
“There’s nothing left to do but come back next year and try to win by even more,” Wu said as he clutched the medal cementing North at the top of the swimming world.
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