Taylor High School, Mustangs, Seven Lakes High School, Spartans, Tompkins High School, Falcons, Katy ISD, swimming, diving

MAKING WAVES

Taylor, Seven Lakes stand out at 19-6A swim championships

By STEPHEN GREENWELL, Times Correspondent
Posted 1/18/20

Taylor senior Emma Sticklen made it a four-peat for Swimmer of the Meet as she led her Mustangs girls team to a 75-point victory at the District 19-6A swimming championships on Saturday, Jan. 18, while the Seven Lakes boys’ team held off Taylor by 2.5 points for its third straight team title.

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Taylor High School, Mustangs, Seven Lakes High School, Spartans, Tompkins High School, Falcons, Katy ISD, swimming, diving

MAKING WAVES

Taylor, Seven Lakes stand out at 19-6A swim championships

Posted

Taylor senior Emma Sticklen made it a four-peat for Swimmer of the Meet as she led her Mustangs girls team to a 75-point victory at the District 19-6A swimming championships on Saturday, Jan. 18, while the Seven Lakes boys’ team held off Taylor by 2.5 points for its third straight team title.

Sticklen, who will swim for the University of Texas in the fall, won the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke, and also swam a leg of the 200 medley relay. She was the 2019 state champion in each of those individual events.

“Coming out here and winning again with my girls’ team is so special to me, and I feel like I still have something left in the tank for state,” she said. “I definitely have room to improve. I’m just trying to make it past regionals without a (disqualification), so I’ve been super safe on all of my underwaters and my starts. I definitely have a lot more in the tank.”

It’s been an uneven season for Sticklen as she got the flu shortly before the junior nationals in December, resulting in a pair of second-place finishes. Since then, she’s been focused on refining her skills.

“I know every kick I take and the amount of strokes I need to take to go as fast as I can,” she said.

Sticklen was part of a dominant team effort as the Mustangs girls won nine of the meet’s 11 events. They notched another four second-place finishes as well, and coach Matt Apple said they had 15 different swimmers score points.

“It’s one of those things where the stars align, and we happen to have all of these girls that are really good,” he said. “All the girls, they all work hard. They’re driven and focused, and each of them wants to do well. They care about how they do individually, but they care about the team and they understand why this person is here and this person is here, to get the most amount of points.”

Apple was named Coach of the Meet. Taylor senior Tyler Kopp was named Swimmer of the Meet for the boys’ side.

“Ever since my freshman year, it’s been something I’ve been striving for, so a chance to win it my senior year is such a great feeling,” Kopp said. “Seeing all the people I looked up to my freshman through junior year winning the award, it’s a great honor.”

Kopp described the Mustangs’ practice regimen as “pretty intense.”

“We’re practicing close to 11 times a week, and we’re in the water at 6 a.m., going to school after, and then to practice for two-and-a-half hours,” he said. “We’re going to continue putting in some hard work and getting prepared going into regionals and, hopefully, state. I think we have a chance to place highly and do better than we have in a long, long time, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Apple described his two star swimmers as being on opposite ends of the spectrum at the start of their high school careers.

“Tyler came in and he was a real small, slight, short kind of guy his freshman year. You could tell he was going to be a good swimmer, but his body hadn’t developed like it is now,” he said. “Emma is a little bit different, because she walked in and she was a stud from day one. It’s interesting how their paths are different, but they’ve ended up at the same spot. I’m really lucky to have both of them.”

For Seven Lakes, the depth of the Spartans’ boys propelled them to a first-place team finish.

“Last year, we graduated three guys that are swimming (NCAA Division I) right now, so we had a lot of JV kids move up,” Seven Lakes coach Jordan Beck said. “These guys that helped us win this third straight (boys title), they were on JV last year. So, they went from JV to varsity to help us get that third title in a row.”

Beck said he knew it was close heading into the final race, the 400 freestyle relay, and, based on incorrect information provided from the stands, he thought they were tied after the race. While Taylor won that relay, Seven Lakes finished in second. Taylor needed the Spartans to finish fourth or worse to swing the meet.

“I knew it was going to be close, because Taylor has a really, really good boys’ team, and last year it was close with us also and we graduated a bunch, so we knew it was going to be a battle,” Beck said.

The Spartans secured the title thanks to their depth and because of a strong effort from Tompkins that kept Taylor from securing more points.

The Spartans and Mustangs tied with four first-place finishes each, and Taylor actually had more second- and third- place finishes—seven in total, as compared to four for Seven Lakes.

However, Tompkins took third place at the meet with 113 points and racked up five third-place finishes. The Spartans also consistently tallied points from the fourth and fifth positions to overcome higher individual placements by the Mustangs.

Beyond the team finishes, Mustangs junior Taylor Schababerle had a strong meet, setting a Katy ISD record in the girls 200 freestyle. As a condition of covering the meet, Katy ISD officials asked media to not report times from the meet. Sticklen also broke her own 2018 record in the 100 butterfly.

In District 19-6A girls diving, Seven Lakes’ Summer Taylor won gold for first place, followed by Katy High’s Brianna Cannon in second and Seven Lakes’ Kailey Koval in third. All advanced to the regional meet.

In 19-6A boys diving, Tompkins starred. Daniel Barrientos won gold and teammate Matthew Aigner won second to advance to regionals.

The Region V-Class 6A swimming and diving championships will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at the Cy-Fair ISD Natatorium in Cypress.

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