Leader Blues

Friday, July 18, 2008

SPORTS>> Sharks, Piranhas, Sharkrockets in Meet of Champs

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Another season of the Central Arkansas Swim League will come to a conclusion today with the annual Meet of Champs at UALR.

The Sherwood Sharks recently wrapped up their fifth consecutive CASL title by going undefeated in five meets, and the Cabot Piranhas qualified 75 of 97 swimmers for the annual crown-jewel event after finishing the year with four meet wins.

Cabot coach Debbie Skidmore says her kids should be ready today, and that her younger swimmers are stronger than ever.

“We’ve doubled up on our practices,” Skidmore said. “The kids have really been working hard — we had a scrimmage at Harding the other day against their kids. We had a lot more gold swimmers this year, especially with our younger kids.”

Tyce Wright, Colin Owens and Alex Layman are four 6-under swimmers that Skidmore expects to do well at the meet, along with 7-8 year-old swimmer Elaine Helpenstill. Frances McFadden is a gold-level 11-12 swimmer that has also had a strong season to qualify for the MOC.

In the upper age brackets, the Santiago brothers, Jared, James and John, are perennial contenders at the Meet of Champs, as are 15-18 swimmers Josh Ellis and Ken Harness. Faith Blair and Sara Pavich are gold and silver level swimmers respectively in the butterfly for the oldest age group, with 13-14 swimmers Megan Owens, Ashley Weaver and Emma Fulham all reaching gold level in the backstroke.

Sherwood Sharks’ parent rep Mary Jo Heye said expectations are high as always for Sharks swimmers heading into today’s event. She says that while the younger swimmers are especially good, there is no particular age group that dominates over another, but rather gender.

“Our 6-under kids are absolutely outstanding,” Heye said. “It’s all due to the excellent coaching we have. We fill out the categories really well, but our boys are stronger than the girls, competition-wise.”

The Sharks have won every Meet of Champs since 2004, and hope to make it five in a row this year. More than 50 Sharks qualified for the Meet of Champs, including 6-under standout Anna Jaworski. Jaworski has won every event she has participated in this season, and has set two Harmon Pool records. Joseph Potts is another 6-under swimmer that will be trying to break three Meet of Champs records after breaking as many records at Harmon.

Thomas Heye and Christopher Heye are qualified for multiple events at the Meet of Champs, as is Delaney Haralson and breaststroke ace Sheridan Arnold.