Mansfield Legacy’s Haley Yelle has medaled six times at previous UIL state swim meets and seeks to add two more to that collection this weekend in Austin.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment for four years,” Yelle said.
The state meet is Friday and Saturday at the Texas Swim Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and several local athletes are likely to reach the podium.
Yelle, a Texas A&M signee, has medaled in the UIL state meet every year, with five silver and one gold.
“I’ve placed second for most of my high school career, and I’m nervous, yet excited for my last chance to change that,” Yelle said. “My coaches and I have put countless amounts of hours into training for this moment, and I think when it comes down to it, I’ll be ready.”
Yelle is competing in the girls 200- and 500-yard freestyle events in the Class 5A division, and holds the two fastest times in the state at 1:47.82 and 4:47.54, respectively.
She won the 200 free her freshman year, while finishing second in the 500. She added 200 and 500 free silver medals in 2015 and last year, too.
Yelle was an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle races last summer, and she has earned seven medals at the U.S. Junior Nationals from 2014-16.
“Over the past four years, I’ve progressed steadily in terms of my times,” Yelle said. “But I have very high expectations this year, and I’m planning on taking home gold medals in both events.”
Lucky number 7?
In the 6A division, the Southlake Carroll boys team is going for a seventh consecutive state championship, and with a dominating performance at the recent Region II meet, the Dragons appear poised to achieve that.
The Dragons boys have qualified 12 swimmers and two divers for state, and all three relays advanced to the competition.
Carroll boys scored 674 points at regionals, and coach Kevin Murphy said the goal is one more title.
“We are pursuing All-American standards in relays and individual events, along with some team records and even one or two very fast national public school records in the boy’s relays,” Murphy said.
Alex Zettle enters the meet with the state’s top time in the 200 freestyle, 1:38.17, and the second seed in the 500 free with a time of 4:25.20.
Also keep an eye on Jack LeVant, who has the second seed in both the 50 freestyle (20.52) and the 100 butterfly (48.24).
“Our boy’s team goal is to repeat as the Texas 6A team champions for the seventh year in a row,” Murphy said.
Competitors to Watch
Mansfield Lake Ridge, junior
Event: 1-Meter Dive
Jaynes is looking to make it back-to-back state championships, after beating out Lubbock High’s Isaac Lovell last year with a total of 473.50 point.
Jaynes’ regional score this year was 532.65, more than 32 points higher than any other diver.
Events: 200 IM and 100 backstroke
Hallaron earned a silver and a bronze at state last year and has qualified in both events again to take another shot at a state championship.
The Grapevine junior’s times are faster in both events from last season, swimming a 1:53.77 in the 200 IM at region compared to his time of 1:55.76 from state last year, and a 50.93 in the 100 back versus a 51.94 last year.
“David Hallaron and Parker Schultz were state medalists last year and looking to return to the podium,” coach Daniel Jau said.
Schultz is competing in the 50 free and 100 butterfly events.
Fort Worth Arlington Heights, senior
Events: 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 50 freestyle and 200 medley relay
Baron qualified for state in four events, but his best chance at bringing home a medal comes in the 500 free, where he finished second at regionals and is currently the third seed in state.
Baron qualified for state in the 200 free last year as well, and Heights coach Walliss Vick said that her objectives for the state competition for him have not changed.
“The goals for state are the same as any meet — swim hard, do your best, and drop time,” Vick said. “Whenever a swimmer drops time and swims a personal best, he is a winner.”
Mansfield Lake Ridge, junior
Events: 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay
The Lake Ridge girls finished second at their regional meet, and Boseman was a big part of the reason why.
She helped three relays qualify for the state meet and overcame a major hurdle to get there.
“She tore her ACL last May,” Lake Ridge coach Blake Kahla said. “She did not complete in her first meet until December. She had incredible swims at the region meet after such a quick recovery. It was great seeing her in the water again and doing what she loves. Rhiannan helped carry all three relays to qualify for the state meet.”
Keller Fossil Ridge, senior
Events: 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle
Pitzer finished third at state her freshman year in the 500 free and the 50 freestyle events and the state meet has become old hat for her.
The Stanford commit is the third seed in both events coming into state.
Southlake Carroll, senior
Event: 1-Meter Dive
Crown is a true story of perseverance.
Murphy and Dragons diving coach Carolyn Hryorchuk had high hopes for Crown when she entered high school, but recurring injuries kept her from competing at the district meet for three years.
“She never gave up, nor did coach Hryorchuk, and Katie kept coming back to the pool,” Murphy said. “This year, healthy by Christmas, she made our district team, finished third at regionals, and advanced to her very first Texas state high school diving championships. A great study in courage and persistence by Katie Crown, her parents and her high school diving coach.”
The only issue for Crown (455.07 points) is that she will be competing against freshman phenoms and teammates Bridget O’Neill (499.15) and Allison Ward (466.05), who are seeded first and fourth respectively at the state meet.