Two Baton Rouge teams, Catholic High and St. Joseph’s Academy, claimed Division I titles at last year’s Louisiana High School Athletic Association Swimming Championships.
Can the Redstickers and Bears repeat those feats? That’s one of the key questions as the LHSAA’s four-day meet begins its final sequence Friday with preliminary heats for Division II and I at Sulphur’s SPAR Aquatics Center.
Action begins at 10 a.m. with prelims for Division II, with defending champions St. Scholastica-Covington (girls) and Alexandria Senior High (boys) expected to lead the way again.
Division I prelims are set for 4 p.m. and the competition should be intense. SJA and Catholic won their first titles since 2005 a year ago. Jesuit-New Orleans, winner of 28 of the last 30 titles, is rated as the favorite by Catholic coach Doug Logsdon. Northshore-Slidell, Archbishop Rummel and Mandeville will be other teams to watch.
Finals in both divisions are Saturday, with Division II set for 9:30 a.m. and Division I scheduled for 3 p.m.
“In the last 30 years Jesuit has won 28 titles, and we’ve won two,” Logsdon said. “So I think you have to consider them to be the favorite. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Jesuit and we go into this meet knowing there are only certain things we can control.
“Our focus for tomorrow is on swimming as fast as we possibly can in prelims. That is one of the things we can control and we’re going to concentrate on that. We have to swim fast in prelims in order to get into position to contend. That’s where it starts.”
A year ago, Catholic edged Jesuit by 21 points to win the title. The margin in the girls division was slimmer with SJA ousting Northshore by two and one-half points. The Redstickers of first-year coach Rebecca Barber, Northshore and Mandeville will be three teams to watch.
All the top teams have individuals to watch. On the girls side, Mandeville’s Jonna Frantz has the top times in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. The Skippers’ Megan Loop has the top marks in the 200 and 500 freestyles, but is followed closely by Dutchtown’s Alyssa Dilldine.
Fontainebleau’s Kara Kopcso has the top entry marks in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. Cameron Balkom, who tops the 100 breaststroke field, is the lone SJA swimmer with a top time. The Redstickers have several other swimmers seeded in the top four and have the top entry mark in two of the three relays.
East Ascension’s Mason Hutchinson (200 IM, 100 butterfly) and Catholic’s Colin Bone (200, 500 freestyles) are local competitors with top entry marks in two boys events. Jesuit has no top-seeded swimmers but has several competitors seeded in the top four.
While the Division II competition will feature SSA and ASH, Baton Rouge High’s Jerry Ye is a No. 2 seed in the boys 100 backstroke.