For the fourth year in a row, the Byron Nelson boys and girls swimming and diving teams swam away with the team titles at the 4A Region II meet at Mansfield ISD Natatorium on Saturday.
Nelson qualified 11 events for the state meet, which will be held Feb. 21-22 in Austin.
Bobcats also came away with individual honors at the regional meet.
Diver Stephen Gilliland was named the Diver of the Meet, his third such honor, while sophomore Adam Koster was named Male Swimmer of the Meet.
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Due to weather, the meet was condensed, requiring both preliminary rounds and the finals to be conducted the same day.
The Nelson girls took the title with 453 points with the nearest competitor, Mansfield Legacy, only scoring 241.
The boys were champions by a definitive margin, 469 to Legacy’s 395.
Even with the short turnaround on events in a single day, the Bobcats performed well, said Nelson head coach Steve Melbourn. “The kids did an outstanding job responding to less-than-best racing conditions by dropping lots of time in the finals,” he said.
Indeed, the girls team smashed every Nelson team record, while the boys set six new team bests.
Making his return to the regional meet was Koster, improving upon his freshman year finishes.
Koster took first in every event he swam, including the 50m and 100m Freestyle and the three relays – 200m and 400m Freestyle and the 200m Medley.
Last year’s experience should pay dividends for Koster and his teammates.
“Having experienced the energy of the state competition and knowing mentally what to expect should really help this year,” Koster said.
Being named Male Swimmer of the Meet was also an unexpected honor for Koster.
“Going into the meet I wasn’t expecting the times that I got, but I impressed myself with the times,” he said.
The difference this year, said Koster, was his ability to handle the adversity of short preparation time between the qualifying and finals rounds. Koster said he also was not as “queasy” with the additional year of experience.
“I felt a little more composed,” he said.
Along with Koster and Gilliland, other state qualifiers include diver Cecilia Weaver and Molly Henson, who finished third in the 100m Butterfly. Henson is the first girl to qualify in an individual event for Nelson. The 200m and 400m Freestyle relays also both qualified, with those relays consisting of Henson, Madeline Wilson, Hannah Reckmeyer and Eva Koster.
The other qualifier on the boys side was Justin Frederick, who picked up third place in the 100m Free. The three relays all took first place for the boys. The 200m Medley includes Daniel Sampognaro, Adrian Maher, Trent Schmidt and Frederick. The 200m Free relay has Sampognaro, Koster, Frederick and Trey Stenger, while the 400m Free quartet is comprised of Koster, Maher, Seth Winstead and Frederick.
Even with the youth of swimmers such as Koster, Melbourn praised his seniors, who have been consistent in setting their legacy for the young program.
“We are blessed to have a special group of seniors that have provided excellent leadership and continually demand top performances from themselves and their teammates, which has resulted in four consecutive district and region titles for both boys and girls,” Melbourn said.
Koster said the team was confident going into the regional meet. “As a team, we all believe in ourselves and in what we can produce,” he said.
Melbourn said he expects the Bobcats to have their best-ever state showing. Last year’s finish had the girls in 31st and the boys 39th overall.
“Having the boys finish in the top 10 is one of our goals,” Melbourn said, adding the girls are capable of a top 20 finish. “We do have the firepower to do better,” he said, explaining that the relays count for double the points in the tournament standings.