One extra kick. That’s what motivated Guyer senior Tristen Parish this season in his pursuit of reaching the state swim meet at Texas’ Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center today and Saturday in Austin.
Last season’s Class 4A regional in Mansfield was the spark of Parish’s fire that has him poised to medal at this year’s state meet. He won the 100-yard breaststroke but was disqualified for a downward butterfly kick, or dolphin kick, that kept him from advancing to state.
“It was really sad,” Parish said. “I hit the wall and looked up at the time. I saw the official standing over the pool. He said I was DQ’d because of a double dolphin kick off of the wall. I had no idea I did it. I really wanted to go to state, so this year it gave me drive.”
Denton school district aquatics coach Chris Cullen was on the side of the pool watching and didn’t notice the additional stroke Parish had taken as he was streamlining off the wall after a turn.
Parish’s time of 58.67 seconds at this season’s regional meet has him seeded third with a possibility of medaling, something he has had running through his mind all season.
“He was focused on it because he was so disappointed last year,” Cullen said. “He had to overcome that. He could have gotten mad and blamed somebody, but it speaks to his character that he worked even harder this year. He improved significantly. Last year he went a 1:00 and this year he’s at a :58, so to drop that much at that level is not easy.”
Denton senior DJ Lang, an Alabama pledge who broke school records with his fourth- and fifth-place finishes at last year’s state meet, has a solid chance to medal in both of his events, the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle. He is seeded fifth in each event after winning the 100 at regionals with a time of 46.79 and the 200 with a 1:42.80.
“I’m pretty confident going into it,” Lang said. “I’ve done the work and I’ve got the right mindset going into it. My goal times are really much faster compared to last year. In practice, I’ve just been going 110 percent. Without completely tapering, I was still able to hit my goal times in regionals. The goal was to be within a half second better. I was within .2 of my best in the 100, and in the 200 my best is a 142.2 and I went a 1:42.8.”
As the state meet neared, Lang was in the process of tapering, which is a slow transition to less-stringent workouts so that muscles are repaired and rested.
Cullen said Lang is trying to accomplish something that hasn’t been seen at Denton in more than a decade.
“We haven’t had a medalist from Denton High since 1999,” Cullen said. “He’s very driven.”
In the first event of the meet, the girls 200 medley relay will have senior Bri Broussard, junior Rachael Crews, sophomore Elise Page and senior Kayla McGill representing Denton for the second straight year, after the same group took 12th at state with a time of 1:54.81.
At this year’s regionals, the Broncos fended off rival Trophy Club Nelson, which finished less than half a second behind Denton’s time of 1:53.79.
“We were afraid that we might not be able to beat them,” Broussard said of the Bobcat relay team. “We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders. Last year, it was our first time being in that pool. This year we’ll know what to expect.”
Crews, the relay’s breaststroker, said last year’s experience has given the team confidence that it’ll be able to hang with the elevated talent at state.
“When we won at regionals, it was amazing,” Crews said. “Last year at state, we did all right, but now we know what we’re up against. We think we have a good shot at making it in the top eight. I think we can shave a half-second off each person’s time.”
Guyer senior Brandi Ruvang is the district’s lone diving representative and is seeded 14th after claiming the regional title with a score of 266.
“She has good form in the dive she does, and she has good lines entering the water,” Cullen said. “The top two divers from each region make it, and they don’t have any wild cards make it. She finished in the top five last year, and this year she was able to take the next step.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.