Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Sharks defeat Piranhas in a gigantic meet

Leader sports editor

The Sherwood Sharks kept their Central Arkansas Swim League winning streak alive at Cabot’s Veterans Park Community Center on Saturday, but it was one of the most competitive meets the Sharks have had in a while. Sherwood won the tri-match that also included Conway with an impressive 908 points. That was 294 points better than Cabot’s 614 and Conway was a distant third with 254.

A 294-point win may not seem very close, but considering the Sharks’ 929 to 254 win against Otter Creek, and their 1,207 to 228 win over Bryant in two previous meets this summer, the Cabot meet was a figurative doddybrook.

Cabot scored a large chunk of its points in the older girls’ division, where Sherwood is unusually shallow with swimmers.

“I have a very strong group of older girls, and it’s the same way with my older boys,” said Cabot coach Brian Bowen. “Sherwood, though, they also have a strong group of those boys that have been with them. We still got some wins with Seth Fox and Payton Jones pulling out some wins for us. But with the girls, we have a really strong group and they dominated. That’s really likely to be the case in just about every meet.”

The meet was huge. This is Cabot’s biggest team ever with 168 swimmers. About 150 were present for Saturday’s meet, and Sherwood brought more than 250 swimmers. Conway has almost 100 swimmers, meaning almost 500 competitors were involved on Saturday.

“It may have been the largest meet ever in CASL history besides our meet of champs,” Bowen said. “We’re growing, too. We’ve had people coming to us all summer wanting to get involved, but we had to cut our registration off at some point. We’ll have more than 200 next year and might be approaching 250. This was the closest anyone has come to beating Sherwood in probably about eight years, so all I have to say is they better watch out for next year.”

The Sharks also enjoyed a few thoroughly dominant performances. Michael Potts won every individual stroke event in the boys’ 8-under division, and teammate Dillon Wood did the same in the 10-under boys. Thomas Heye, Jordan Woodson and Joseph Potts all won at least three events, including the IM.

Bowen singled out Jessie Baldwin and Grace Esteban as having “standout meets” for Cabot. Baldwin, 16, and already a platinum level swimmer in the 18-under individual medley, beat her previous best time by almost two seconds with a 1:04.70.

Esteban, an 8-year-old platinum level swimmer in every event, beat her best times in four of them, including the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley.

Tristen Bowen improved his platinum times in the boys 14-under backstroke, breaststroke and IM. Payton Jones did the same in the boys’ 18-under backstroke, butterly and IM, though he lost to Sherwood’s Thomas Heye in the backstroke, and finished third behind Heye and teammate Seth Fox in the IM.

Six-year old Piranha Annie Thomas moved from gold level to platinum level in the breaststroke by shaving a full 2.5 seconds off her previous best time, and finishing in 29.03 seconds.