Prep Swimming and Diving: Winter Haven's Simon Sets Goal on Reaching State
Fri. November 04, 2011 at 12:00 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Last year, Winter Haven sophomore IV Simons fell two spots shy of making the cut for the Class 2A state swim meet in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.
But that didn't bug him too much.
"I got beat out by two seniors so it was better for them to go," said Simons.
His feelings aren't the same this year. And he's got a strong shot at qualifying for state, specifically in the 100 breast, an event he is seeded first in for regionals with a time of 1:03.27.
"It would mean quite a bit because if you're a sophomore at states people take notice," Simons said.
The Class 2A, Region 3 swim meet takes place this Saturday in St. Petersburg, and Winter Haven is taking 13 swimmers, including girls, for individual events. The Blue Devils are also taking four relay teams: girls' 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley and boys' 200 medley.
Senior David Lambert should also be a sure lock for states. He's seeded first in the 50 free (21.95) and third in the 100 free (48.88). The first place swimmer in each event of each regional meet automatically advances to the state meet. There are four meets in each classification.
The remaining top 20 swimmers who advance to the state meet are selected based on top times around the state, but those picks most likely won't be released until Sunday.
Lakeland is also well represented in 2A, Region 3, with senior Alexander Sparbel seeded the highest of all the Dreadnaughts — he's sitting in the third spot in the 100 butterfly (55.77). Alejandro Contreras is seeded fourth in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:04.07.
Lake Region, Auburndale, Bartow and Haines City also have swimmers competing in Saturday's meet.
George Jenkins, which moved up a classification this year, swims today in the Class 3A, Region 2 meet in St. Petersburg.
Sophomore Kyleigh Firman, who won county titles in the 50 free and 100 butterfly, is seeded 12th and seventh, respectively, in both events for regionals.
Senior Meghan Mack is one spot behind her in the 50 free.
"I think that's going to be a super fast race as well as Alex [Carson] in the 100 free and even the medley relays," George Jenkins coach Jenn Gosline said.
"I think they will swim well."
Jenkins also has four relay teams entered: 200 free and 200 medlay for the girls and the boys.
Gosline has 11 swimmers at regionals. Last year, she had 24.
Oasis Christian, Frostproof, All Saints, Lakeland Christian and Santa Fe Catholic also have swimmers competing Saturday. Those teams swim in the Class 1A, Region 2 meet at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando.
Top seeds in that meet from Polk County include All Saints' Aaron Henricks in the 50 free (second) and David Wong in the 500 free (fifth) and Oasis Christian's Rebekah Howard in the 200 IM (sixth) and 100 breaststroke (third).
Last year, all three swimmers qualified for states.
The All Saints boys' 400 free relay team also has a shot to get in — they're seeded fifth. If they do qualify, it would be the first time in school history.
"Our 400 freestyle relay really wants to go," Henricks said. "Hopefully we can get it done."
Kerst on Bubble For State Meet
George Jenkins diver Zak Kerst will have to wait until Sunday to find out whether he's made it to states.
The sophomore finished in eighth place at the Class 3A, Region 2 meet in St. Petersburg on Thursday after posting 360 points on his 11 dive rotation.
The top two divers automatically qualify for states from each region meet, a total of 24 from around the state, There are three additional regional meets in Class 2A.
"I find it nerve wrecking a little because I have never been to states before and it would mean a lot to me being a sophomore and going especially because its only my second year diving," Kerst said.
Kerst, who finished fourth (369.85) at the 3A-4 district meet last week, said he wasn't completely satisfied with his performance on Thursday. He stuck to the same rotation he completed at the district meet because he was confident in his dives and he didn't want to be nervous before he stepped onto the board.
"He wasn't as pleased but he still felt like he did a good job," George Jenkins coach Jenn Gosline said.