The first trip to a state competition can be daunting for any athlete, but Legacy's Haley Yelle embraced the opportunity this past weekend as she brought home a gold and a silver medal.
The freshman swimmer finished third in the 200-yard freestyle in the preliminaries on Friday with a time of 1:52.35 and looked to be in good shape for a spot on the podium on Saturday.
Most impressive of all, however, was that the Legacy swimmer finished nearly four seconds faster in the finals (1:48.79) and claimed the first-ever state championship in the sport of swimming for Legacy High School.
“It's surprising to me, because there have been some pretty fast swimmers before me,” Yelle said. “So I feel pretty special that I was the first one from my school to be a champion.”
Yelle, 14, decided that one medal was not enough for the competition, and jumped two spots to take the silver medal in the 500 freestyle event with a time of 4:53.38, more than five seconds faster than her preliminaries time (4:58.72).
“She's worked all year for this moment,” Legacy coach Tony Tullbane said. “She did a lifetime best in the 500 against the defending state champion. It was incredible. The best part is she's a swimmer that still has a long way to go before she reaches her full potential.”
Tullbane said he is excited to see where Yelle's career goes from here, having accomplished so much in her career so early on.
“As a freshman, she was a second off of the state record,” Tullbane said. “Long term goals for her are putting down the base over this next summer and continuing to get better on the mechanics. For a freshman to be that close to a 4A state record is impressive.”
• Mansfield's Mike Thibert finished fifth in the 100 and 200 freestyle events, and coach Matt Bold said it was a strong effort from his sophomore swimmer.
“He battled hard,” Bold said. “He was right on the edge of being in the top three. It was really, really close. He just barely got out-touched.”
Lauren Thompson finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke and seventh in the 200 IM for the Tigers swim team, and Sara McClendon was 10th in the 500 freestyle event.
“We had a great meet,” Bold said. “We had swam in five different events and finished in the top 10 in every event. I thought for two freshmen and a sophomore, with this being their first trip to state, this was a great meet for them.”