St. Joseph’s Academy and Catholic High have combined to win five Division I state swimming titles over the past three years.
It’s the kind of success that can guarantee future success. The Bears and Redatickers enter Friday’s final portion of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Swim meet knowing that one last competition is the lone guarantee.
“I feel like we’re ready physically and mentally,” St. Joseph’s coach Becca Barber said. “The girls have been excited all week. We’ve got 20 girls entered in individual events and it looks like they all have the chance to come back for finals. But the key to that is swimming fast on Friday. They need to maintain the positions they have and move up if possible.”
Preliminary heats for Division I begin at 4 p.m. Friday. The day of action at Sulphur’s SPAR Aquatic Center starts at 10 a.m. with prelims for Division II. Finals for both divisions conclude the annual four-day meet Saturday.
Barber’s SJA squad has won the past three Division I girls titles. The Redstickers senior class has the rare chance to claim titles for four straight years. Barber stresses that her team must take advantage of the opportunities in each event.
Catholic has won two of the past three boys Division I titles and coach Doug Logsdon said the basic challenge doesn’t change. The Bears have won three state titles since 2005; Jesuit has won 37 titles.
“There are things you can count on (and) Jesuit is one of them,” Logsdon said. “They’ve won 37 out of 40 titles and they expect to win.
“How you swim in prelims is so important in any meet like, but especially this one. I say it a lot but it’s true — we have to swim fast in prelims in then come out and swim even faster in finals.”
The Outstanding Swimmer award winners from a year ago, Mandeville distance specialist Megan Loop and Catholic’s versatile Colin Bone, return.
Loop is seeded second to SJA’s Clayton Black in the 200-yard freestyle, but has the top entry mark in the 500 freestyle. Black is the second seed in the 500 freestyle.
Bone is seeded eight seconds ahead of the No. 2 swimmer in the boys 200 freestyle. Last year Bone also won the 500 freestyle, but this time around his second event is the 100 freestyle. And yes, he’s seeded first.
Barber said she believes Mandeville is stronger than a year ago. The Skippers were the Division I runner-up to SJA in 2013.
“Mandeville’s younger swimmers are a year older and they’re better,” Barber said. “You can also see that Mount Carmel is rebuilding and they’ll be a factor. And you can never over look Northshore.”
St. Joseph’s Amy Miller is the top seed in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. Bone is the lone top seed for Catholic. Jesuit has two top seeds, which makes depth and relays even more important for both teams.
In Division II, St. Scholastica seeks its fifth straight girls title. Ruston edged Holy Cross by a half a point last year to win the boys title. Central’s Matthew Arnold, who is seeded second in both the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle, is the local swimmer in Division II.