SULPHUR — Depth perception allows a person to perceive the distance of objects in their field of vision. The St. Joseph’s Academy and Catholic High offered an alternative definition while winning Division I titles at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Swim meet Saturday.
A series of low-key finishes in the Friday preliminaries might have made it look like the two powers might have trouble claiming team titles on the final day of the annual four-day event at the SPAR Aquatic Center.
Only that wasn’t the case. Instead of relying on multiple individual wins to score points, the two teams used their depth to win again. SJA won its ninth straight title, while Catholic won for the first time in two years. The Bears have five Division I titles in the past seven years and six in the past 10 years.
Between the two teams there was just one individual champion, Catholic’s Mitchell Gillem, who won the 100 freestyle in 47.11 seconds. The Bears also won two of the three relays.
The top local individuals on this day were Lee High’s Riley Brown and Eric King of Zachary. Brown was selected as the Boys Swimmer of the Meet in the Division II session that started the day. King was a double-winner in Division I.
“We knew what we had to do,” first-year SJA coach George Newport said. “There is not a star swimmer on our team this year. What we do have is a lot of very good swimmers, and they were capable of scoring points in the lower half of the finals and consolation heats.
“We knew what events we could put people in to score more points, and that is how depth pays off.”
Catholic scored 489½ points to win the 22-team boys division ahead of two-time defending champion Jesuit (367) and St. Paul’s (181). St. Joseph’s scored 295 in a much closer girls race that also featured Mandeville (238) and Mount Carmel (233).
“This was a total team effort,” Catholic coach Doug Logsdon said. “I am very proud of how they competed. They swam fast times. We only won that one individual event, but we had guys who improved their times and moved up to score more points for us.
“You know, it had been a couple of years since we had won. When that happens, you wonder if you can win it again. It feels good to win. Again, just a great effort by our guys.”
Catholic extended its lead with a huge showing in the 500 freestyle. Boys Swimmer of the Meet Michael Bonson of Northshore won the race, but second-place finisher Mason Nyboer led a group of four Bears, who swept second through fifth place.
King won the 100 butterfly in 51.25 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 58.79. Meanwhile, Lee’s Brown was impressive in the Division II session, winning the 200 individual medley in 1:55.32 and the 100 backstroke in 52.31 seconds.
“No records today, but I’m fairly happy with the times,” Brown said. “Getting this (top swimmer award) is nice.”