Keller swimmers ready to make another splash

Posted Monday, Oct. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Keller swim team may again have some of the district’s top swimmers, if the early meet results are any indication.

The girls team is strong and deep, having won the first two team places at a recent sprint meet with 11 teams. Coach Linda Shults said the championship group had a distance of a 200 point cushion.

The depth showed at the team sprint meet, with the Keller “A” team took first while the Keller “B” team was second.

Although the Keller boys are not as deep, Shults said the boys have made good showings.

Keller has also had a dual with Byron Nelson, one of the top area teams and will compete with the Mansfield ISD schools.

Headlining the Keller girls contingent is Laura Norman, the returning state champion in the 100m Back and 200m IM. The senior captain, Norman is joined by Ashley Ward, who is a returning state qualifier from last year.

Other solid performers for Keller are Kendal Hazleton and Andy Ritcher.

“Our girls have great strength and depth,” Shults said, adding that a talented freshman class has considerable pool experience. “The feeder programs do a good job of getting the kids ready,” she said. The Lakeside Aquatic Club and the North Texas Nadadores stock many of the area swim teams, she said.

On the boys side, Luke Mankus returns after qualifying for the state meet in three events last season as a sophomore.

Mankus competes primarily in the 50m and 100m Free and 100m Fly. He made the finals in 50 and 100 Free and the 100 Fly in the regional meet last year.

“I took a break over the summer,” Mankus said, “but I’ve come back and have been a lot more focused and ready to swim. I’m more motivated and I’m showing good progress. I’m a lot stronger and a lot faster.”

At this early juncture in the season, Mankus agreed that hitting close to personal bests isn’t likely to be seen.

“You don’t expect to see your fastest (times) this early in the season,” he said. “I have the potential to hit faster times this year, and my goal is to swim a lot faster this year. I have everything I need to get faster.”

Other juniors returning on the boys team are Josh Hein and Colin Duggan.

Together, the nucleus of boys may be able to join with some of the new team members to become a surprise to some in the district.

Mankus also commented on the strong freshman class and said the new swimmers will push everyone to hit faster times.

Shults said the Indians’ biggest district competition will likely be Southlake Carroll and Central. Central has been making substantial progress in the development of its program and will be a legitimate contender along with Keller as it tries to unseat Carroll from the district’s top spot.

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