Regional redux: Plano boys, Allen girls swimmers capture 3-5A titles
ROCKWALL -- In many ways, the Region III-5A Swimming and Diving Championships mirrored the District 9-5A Meet two weeks ago.
That was apparent everywhere from the cast of 9-5A swimmers who punched their tickets to state to the manner in which the Plano Senior boys and Allen girls captured their respective regional championships Saturday at the Rockwall ISD Aquatic Center.
"I can't express how proud I am of those girls," said Brent Mitchell, Allen head coach. "Their goal has been state all year, to get as many relays and individuals as they could to state and finish as a top-five team. They've put themselves in that position and now we have to finish it off in two weeks."
Much like they did at the district meet, the Lady Eagles looked to be in fast forward compared to the rest of the field. Overall, Allen recorded a meet-best seven automatic qualifiers for state, with six coming from the girls team.
Junior Jennifer Brennecke led the pack with a pair of individual regional titles.
Brennecke took first in the 200-yard individual medley (2:08.90) and the 100 breaststroke (1:06.29). She also served as a leg on the Lady Eagles' first-place 200 medley relay (1:49.50) alongside freshman Sofie Underdahl, junior Sarah Vinezeano and senior Alyssa Stubblefield.
That group was one of three Allen girls relays that took first Saturday, with the 200 and 400 relays of Vinezeano, senior Madison Doty, Stubblefield and sophomore Gillian Wagner following suit with respective times of 1:39.41 and 3:36.46. Vinezeano also automatically advanced to state in the 100 butterfly (57.40) while sophomore Thomas Kim -- named the TISCA Boys Athlete of the Year -- added first in the 200 IM (1:54.90).
The Lady Eagles totaled 433.50 points en route to their first regional title, more than doubling up second-place Plano West (207). Plano followed in third (203).
On the boys end, the Wildcats overcame a slow start and ratcheted things up a notch midway through to add a regional title to their torrid postseason. Plano secured six automatic spots in the state meet, including four by junior Kyle Whieldon in the 200 freestyle (1:41.88), 100 free (46.66) and as a leg in the 200 and 400 free relays.
"[Whieldon] did great," said Philip Wiggins, Plano head coach. "Goal-wise and time-wise, that's what we were shooting for. He's a little rested and will be fully tapered for state."
Senior Jay Friestad, freshman Duncan Lee and junior Carter Constien also chipped in on the aforementioned relays while Plano swept the 1-meter diving field behind first-place showings from junior Kendra Keiser (452.10) and sophomore Axl Osborne (427.85). As a team, the Wildcats posted 221 points to nip Belton (213) and Jesuit (193). East placed fourth (183), followed by West in fifth (165) and Allen in sixth (142).
The Panthers earned a pair of automatic spots as well, with senior Nicolas Bergstein returning to state after not only taking first in the 100 breaststroke but doing so with an automatic All-American qualifying time (57.02).
"It means a lot," Bergstein said. "It's not all me though, because my coaches and my team helped me throughout it all."
Similar dominance was exhibited by McKinney sophomore Sammie Hashbarger, whose Class 5A regional debut amounted to first-place swims in the 200 (1:52.83) and 100 free (52.19).
"I'm not feeling too good, so I actually wasn't up to par today," Hashbarger said. "I hope I can do much better at state and make my team proud."
Plano West senior Brian Waggoner rounded out the district's automatic qualifying field by earning his first trip to state after placing first in the 50 free (21.39).
"This has been four years in the making for me," Waggoner said. "I started on JV trying to work my way up to the best. This is pretty much the best moment of my life right now."
Qualifying swimmers and divers will continue to prep before making the trip to Austin for the Class 5A Swimming and Diving Championships, which are Feb. 22-23 at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center.
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