SULPHUR — St. Scholastica senior Madeleine Rawls beamed after her team won the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division II state swimming championship Saturday.
Rawls clutched her Swimmer of the Meet award close to her chest and said she was capable of breaking down at any moment.
And why not?
Rawls won two events (the 50-yard freestyle in 24.53 seconds and the 100-yard free in 53.28) at the Sulphur Parks and Recreation Aquatics Center. The effort helped clinch the Doves’ fourth consecutive state title and ensured Rawls would never know the taste of defeat in a state final since she before her freshman year at SSA.
“The first title is indescribable, but this one is so special, too,” she said. “They all have their own little twists to them. This year, it’s very sentimental. There will definitely be tears in the very near future.”
The Doves handily won the team title with 400 points. They won three individual events, two of three relays, and cruised to the eighth state championship in coach Chris Prator’s 17-year tenure. Alexandria placed second with 260 points, and Sacred Heart was third with 224.
SSA sophomore Lindsay Parkins won the other individual event for the Doves — the 200-yard IM in 2:18.49. The Doves also won the 200-medley relay and the 400-free relay.
“At SSA, it’s kind of a legacy,” Parkins said. “Girl after girl, we swim well. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this team.”
Prator said each squad carries its own identity. He said he won’t soon forget this squad, though, as it followed 2013’s senior-laden team and had to carve its own mark into the SSA record books.
“We didn’t have as much depth as last year, but we wanted every girl on the team to score,” he said. “That was our first goal. We came close to that. We put four girls in the 100 fly finals. That was exciting. But equally exciting to me was the girls who were seeded 19th or 20th, who swam well enough to crack the top 16 and earn points for this team. That’s what I’ll remember as special about this team.”
While St. Scholastica was swimming away with the girls title, Ruston and Holy Cross were battling for the boys crown. Ruston wound up victorious, beating Holy Cross 395-392. The narrow win came on the heels of Ruston’s half-point victory last year. It was their third straight Division II title.
Ruston senior Morgan Meyer set a state record in the boys 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.17, more than 5 seconds faster than his nearest competitor. Meyer also won the 200-yard free event in 1:42.40 and was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Swimmer in boys competition.
Other two-event champions in boys competition included Thomas Jefferson’s Owen Martin (500-yard free, 4:56.85; 200-yard IM, 1:58.63); and Ruston’s Jackson Boersma with wins in the 50-yard free (22.65) and 100-yard backstroke (55.89).
“We have no reason to hang our heads,” Holy Cross coach Dale Turner said. “We won a relay today, and everyone to a person swam their best times.”