Leader Blues

Friday, July 17, 2009

SPORTS >> Area swimmers eye records at MOC today

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Sherwood Sharks will try to continue their dynasty today when the sixth annual Meet of Champs gets under way at UALR.

The Sharks concluded a sixth straight unbeaten season and sixth consecutive Central Arkansas Swim League title, and will be looking to break several individual records today.

Other area teams with swimmers qualified in the event are the Cabot Piranhas and Lonoke Sharkrockets.

“You never really know what’s going to happen at the Meet of Champs,” said Sharks parent representative Mary Jo Heye, whose son Thomas Heye has dominated in the 9-10 boys age division this summer. “You can have kids come out of nowhere and break records. The kids keep improving over the summer, and you never know how well a newer swimmer will do there.”

Thomas Heye and 11-12 girls swimmer Conner McNulty have the best chances to break MOC records, Mary Jo Heye said. Heye is unbeaten this summer, and McNulty has achieved gold status in all of her categories.

But it’s the 7-8 year-olds that make up the heart of the dominant Sharks team. Katie Henderson, Anna Jaworski and Brianna Hanley have all had outstanding summers on the girls side, while Joseph Potts, Tristen Bowen and Vincent Jaworski have helped the Sharks boys dominate every opponent this summer.
Heye said to also watch for 9-10 girls swimmer Delaney Haralson and 14-year-old Sam Scott on the boys side.

For the second straight year, the Cabot Piranhas qualified nearly three-fourths of their swimmers for the Meet of Champs. Of nearly 100 swimmers on the roster, 70 swimmers qualified.

“We have had a good summer,” said Cabot coach Debbie Skidmore, now in her 11th season as head Piranha. “We have a lot of outstanding gold swimmers, and I expect our relay teams to also do well. The kids have been doubling up on practices and working out. I’m excited. We have a lot of kids qualified, and we hope they’re going to do some damage.”

Of those qualified, Skidmore said Megan Owens, Michael Rawocski, Riley Young and John Santiago have the best chances at shattering records today. And the 18-under girls relay team of Owens, Emily Grigsby, Jenni Anne Vaughan and Katie Burchfield will be going for its third-straight MOC victory after breaking their own record from 2007 at last year’s meet.

There have also been several swimmers reach all-gold status for the Piranhas this summer, including Alyssa Pritchard-Farren in the girls 6-under division, Alex Layman in the boys 7-8, Ashley Gore in the girls 9-10 and Brent Brockel and Payton Jones in the 11-12 boys division.

The Sharks began their sixth straight year of CASL domination on the first weekend of June with a win at Bryant. A number of swimmers quickly reached gold status in their new age divisions, as Sherwood easily took the win with a team score of 701, while the Barracudas finished with 435 points.

The Sharks hosted Otter Creek and YMCA at their own Harmon Pool the following weekend, and the result was another runaway victory. It was the second-highest point total in a single meet for the Sharks in 2009, as they took 873.5 points to the Otters’ 269.5 and 94 points for the Stingrays.

They improved to 3-0 on the season with a meet win at Lakewood, and closed out the month of June by hosting Maumelle and Lonoke at Harmon Pool. The Marlins racked up more points against the Sharks than any other competitor this summer with 473 team points, but Sherwood’s 826.5 was more than enough to secure the win.

They wrapped up their sixth title and closed out the season with a 925-460 win at Cabot on July 11.

The Piranhas opened their 2009 summer season with a win at Otter Creek against the Otters and the YMCA Stingrays. Cabot finished with 510 team points, while second-place Otter Creek had 332 points. The Piranhas then won two straight meets at home before suffering their first setback of the season in a narrow 75-point loss at Maumelle.

The Meet of Champs will begin today at 8 a.m. at the UALR Donaghey Student Center Aquatic Center.