SULPHUR — It isn’t often that you can finish second and ultimately win it all.
That’s the story now attached to Lusher’s first state title in swimming.
Coach Katherine Archer and the her team were counting each lap until the Lions’ 400-yard boys freestyle relay team concluded the meet with a second-place finish.
E.D. White Catholic beat Lusher by 9 seconds in the final event. But the points the Lions earned were enough to garner a six-point win over the Cardinals in Division III at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Louisiana High School Athletic Association state swim meet Thursday at the SPAR Aquatic Center.
“After we finished third last year, we knew this was possible,” Archer said. “We had a lot of seniors moving up and realized this was the year for us to possibly win it.
“The relays were vital. We had a couple of disqualifications on relay takeoffs in the past. Our motto was ‘Fast but safe.’ We knew E.D. White has some excellent relays and we thought it might come down to the last relay, and it did. We figured we could finish fourth and still win, but we got second.”
An emotional Archer wiped away tears as the final point totals were announced. Lusher finished with 326 points, and Thibodaux’s EDW had 320. Lutcher was third at 218 on a day that saw team excellence and some individual superlatives.
E.D. White scored 331 points to win the Division III girls title ahead of Vandebilt Catholic at 274 and University High 221.
Baton Rouge-based Episcopal swept the Division IV titles in Thursday’s first session. Newman placed second in the girls division and third in the boys division.
Though the Greenies didn’t claim a team title, they did garner one of the day’s top individual highlights, thanks to senior Jared Williams.
The Georgia Tech signee broke his own Division IV record in the 100 butterfly, winning in 49.79 seconds. Williams just missed the composite record for all divisions, but he said it didn’t matter.
“I finally got under 50 (seconds),” Williams said. “That’s something I’ve been working on for about a year, and it finally happened today. I’m so happy with that. I do wish the team had finished higher.”
Williams’ 100 butterfly time was one of two All-America consideration times posted on the day. He was voted the Outstanding Boys Swimmer in Division IV for the second straight year. The Dunham School’s double winner Olivia Huffman (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke) was the Outstanding Girls Swimmer in Division IV.
Notre Dame’s Erin Trahan won the 100 butterfly in the Division III meet in 55.28, an All-America consideration time that also was good enough to set division and composite records. Trahan was the Outstanding Girls Performer in Division III.
Williams also won his other individual event, the 100 breaststroke in 59.92. Episcopal won the boys team title with 231.5 points, just ahead of Baton Rouge rival Dunham at 224. Newman was third at 214.5 and was likely a disqualification away from another title. The Greenies had the top entry mark in the 200 freestyle relay but were disqualified during Wednesday’s prelims after a swimmer not listed as an alternate for that relay swam on it.
Newman placed second in the Division IV girls competition with 294 points. Episcopal won with 390. Annie Laura Cherbonnier was second in the 200 individual medley and third in the 100 breaststroke to help lead the Newman girls. Northlake Christian’s Michael Foley won the Division IV boys 200 free in 1:55.21.
Haynes Academy’s Jessica Ding won the Division III 100 freestyle in 54.09 seconds. E.D. White did it with depth, winning just one event on the girls side: the 200 freestyle relay. The Cardinals had two double winners on the boys side: Nicolas Rathle (200 IM, 100 backsroke) and Jay Danos (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly). Danos was voted Outstanding Boys Swimmer in Division III. Danos won his 50 freestyle in 21.79 and 100 fly in 51.84
Dean Rhodies, who won the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.35, was Lusher’s lone individual winner.
“I started the swim team in 2007, and we’ve crept up and gotten better every year,” Archer said. “We’re fortunate to be able to practice at Tulane and to have the support of our administration. I’m so proud.”