Jan. 25—The Cleburne High School varsity swim team had several athletes post regional qualifying results at the District 8-5A championships last weekend in Mansfield.
Cleburne had one relay team and four individuals advance to the Class 5A Region II meet, set for this weekend at the Debbie Weems Natatorium in Mansfield.
"Compared to other teams in our area, we are one of the smallest teams, but we will excel, compete and challenge any team," Cleburne Coach Ciro Salazar said. "Our work ethic, the commitment and sheer will of this group of kiddos has demonstrated has made us believe in big things. We are happy to send 50% of our kiddos to regional competition."
Headlining Cleburne's district results is freshman Averi Coates, who qualified for regionals in two events, including a gold medal and first-place finish in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:26.02. She also placed second in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:14.27.
The Yellow Jackets' 200 relay medley team of Rylan Coates, Parker Pritchard, David Juarez and Dane McCoy (along with alternates Blayd Schawo, Broc Ballard and Benjamin Deangelo) advanced to regionals with a fifth-place finish.
Individually, Pritchard qualified for regionals in two events with a third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke and a fifth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle. Salazar said Pritchard has been key for the Jackets overall with his leadership.
"Parker Pritchard, our team captain, has been maintaining the leadership, the focus and the enthusiasm," Salazar said. "He pushes his teammates to challenge themselves more and more. He has been absent only two practices all season."
Rylan Coates qualified with fourth-place finishes in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley.
Joining Averi Coates at regionals for the Lady Jackets will be sophomore Elizabeth Hunt, who qualified in the 100 butterfly with a fourth-place finish.
Salazar said this year's varsity team is a mix of experienced veterans and young newcomers.
"We have a mixed group — our veterans are setting the bar for our intermediate and new team members," Salazar said. "And the 'bar' does not consist only of performances or results inside of the pool, they have been pushed to excel in their classes as well."
Salazar said he expects his regional qualifiers to simply give their best this weekend.
"Every coach wishes to win, but knowing that winning is just a part of success, my hope is those athletes enjoy their competition, give everything they have, challenge every competitor beside them and defeat their fears," he said.