Deer Park swimmers to compete in 4 events at state championship meet
Deer Park High School’s swim program has had its share of athletes reach the pinnacle of their sport by competing at the state championship meet, but it’s always sweeter when a lull comes to an end.
For the first time in two years, the maroon and gold will be represented at the Class 6A state championship when a total of five swimmers compete against the state’s best at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin this weekend.
“We should have a good chance to get to some of the finals,” said head coach Chris Moralez.
With two girls relay teams qualifying for state, the Deer are believed to be sailing in uncharted waters.
“From what I understand, after backtracking and contacting a few people, this is the first time ever that a girls relay from Deer Park is going to state so it’s historical,” Moralez said.
Seniors Sierra Moralez and Emily Pope will be joined by juniors Sara Boone and Caitlyn Bracher for the historic weekend excursion to the pool.
The 200-yard medley relay team is seeded ninth with the time of 1:47.61 and the 200-yard freestyle relay squad is seeded 18th with a season-best 1:38.67.
The 200-yard medley relay team is one of seven schools that qualified for state with a time of 1:47, a telltale sign of just how tight the competition will be this weekend.
Since November, following a big meet and a handsome time, Moralez felt his medley relay team had an above-average shot at state.
Also owning a 1:47 time are the schools of Allen, Round Rock Westwood, Rockwall, Katy Tompkins, Round Rock and Houston Stratford.
The Woodlands team has the bullseye on their collective backs because their 200-yard medley relay team will be taking the fastest time of 1:43.07 to the pool.
Klein, Southlake Carroll, Katy Taylor, Lewisville Flower Mound, Kingwood and Austin Bowie will be the other schools seeded in front of Deer Park.
The freestyle relay team has a taller mountain to climb if they’re to earn a berth in the 16-team finals.
But like the 200-yard medley team, Deer Park’s freestylers are lumped in with plenty of schools with the 1:38 time.
Austin Vandergrift, Katy Taylor, Fort Bend Ridge Point, Atascocita, Stratford, Clements, Mansfield Lake Ridge and Keller all earned state berths with a 1:38 time.
Kingwood is ranked first with a 1:35.80 time, followed closely by Klein (1:35.86) and The Woodlands (1:35.99).
Individually, Deer Park will be represented at state by sophomore diver Levi Ward and by Moralez in the 100-yard backstroke.
Ward has earned a Top-5 berth with his breakout season. But within a dozen miles of the Deer Park campus, swim fans will also find Clear Lake’s Gabriel Hartman and La Porte High School’s Allen Bottego seeded second, vying for a state title.
Seeded fifth with his best points total of 487.56, Ward and the others will be chasing Skip Donald of The Woodlands, the top-ranked diver and his 557.25 points total.
Diving competition is typically judged by seven panelists who give a score from zero to 10. The top two scores and the bottom two scores are discarded while the remaining three scores are added together and multiplied by the dive’s difficult rating, known as the degree of difficulty.
“Levi’s been working really hard. It wasn’t a surprise until a week prior to the diving competition when he began trying more difficult dives. That helped him out in the scoring,” Moralez said.
Sierra Moralez is also seeded fifth when she steps on the block for the 100-yard breaststroke competition, but her time of 1:04.54 is so close to the top.
A state competitor her sophomore year, Moralez was hounded by injuries her junior year, first by a hip flexer and then by an ankle injury she incurred coming down some steps.
“She had a goal in mind and it was to win regionals,” said Chris Moralez.
Flower Mound High School’s Jenna Watson leads the way with a 1:03.35, followed by Klein’s Charlotte Longbottom (1:03.37), Flower Mound’s Julia Wozniak (1:04.52) and San Antonio Reagan’s Morgan Bartley (1:04.52).
“I think they’re excited. They’re going to give their best. They were very focused, very goal oriented,” Moralez said.