NEW ORLEANS — With the state championships looming in the back of their minds, roughly 400 athletes from across the New Orleans area will gather Friday and Saturday at the University of New Orleans’ Lakefront Arena Aquatic Center for the All State Sugar Bowl Metro Championship swimming meet, which, for many of the prep swimmers, provides the last chance to qualify for the upcoming state meets.
However, said Janice Roth, director of the UNO aquatic center, the metro event brings together at one meet area swimmers from all size divisions for the first and only time of the season.
“This is the only time everyone from the area in all the divisions can compete together,” Roth said, adding that while many of the teams on this weekend’s slate face each other in dual meets or other contests during the regular season, the All State Sugar Bowl Meet Championships allow squads to get a good look at one another in advance of states.
This weekend’s metro meet is free to the public. The UNO Lakefront Arena Aquatic Center is located at 6801 Franklin Ave. on the university campus. The meet preliminaries are 2- 6 p.m. Friday, with the finals coming noon-5 p.m. Saturday.
Most of the swimmers in this weekend’s festivities have already qualified for the state championships, but for those who have yet to meet those standards, the metro gathering gives them one last opportunity. That’s the first goal this weekend for the Jesuit High School squad, said Blue Jays coach Bret Hanemann.
“Our goal going into the (metro) meet is to qualify everyone on the team for states,” said Hanemann, whose team took first at the District 5A title meet on Oct. 24. “We want to make sure we have four people in every event qualified for states.”
Hanemann said that while capturing a team metro title this weekend would be a nice achievement, the state championships, slated for Nov. 16-17 in Sulphur, are what the Jays are really looking at.
“(The metro meet) is important to us, but we’re all putting our sights on the ultimate goal, to recapture the state championship,” said Hanemann, whose squad won the 5A state crown in 2011 but placed second last season. “The guys are coming together to support one another. Right now we’re focused on preparing for states.”
Roth said about 30 teams from the Northshore, Southshore and river parishes will descend on UNO for this weekend’s event, for which the 400 or so athletes had qualify in advance. She said the university has been hosting the metro meet for nearly 20 years, and the competition usually draws several people who pack the 300-seat arena.
Several competitors have multiple top marks. Girls competitors with two top marks are Mandeville’s Megan Loop (200-yard freestyle, 1 minute, 57.26 seconds; 500 freestyle, 5:10.22), Fontainebleau’s Kara Kopcso (200 individual medley, 2:10.58; 100 butterfly, 59.31) and Mandeville’s Jonna Frantz (50 freestyle, 23.75; 100 freestyle, 52.06).
Rummel’s Eric Klein (200 IM, 1:53.04; 100 butterfly, 49.95) is the boys competitor with two top entry marks.