St. Al second again at state swim meet

Published 11:23 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

St. Aloysius had quality. What it lacked was quantity.

Tommy Martin, Connor Clark and Adam Eckstein each won an individual state championship, and Clark was part of two winning relay teams, but St. Al couldn’t overcome a huge disadvantage in depth and finished second at the MAIS State Swimming Championship for the second consecutive year.

The Flashes totaled 206 points to finish comfortably in second place in the team standings. Jackson Prep won its 43rd consecutive MAIS championship with 291.5 points, while Hartfield Academy and Jackson Academy tied for third with 186 points.

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Jackson Prep had 72 swimmers competing in the meet, while St. Al had 21.

“We swam great. Jackson Prep just had a lot of horsepower,” St. Al coach Bruce Ebersole said. “They ended up with 291, which is a ton of points. We scored a lot of first, seconds and thirds. They just picked up the sixth, seventh and eighth and had a lot of good swimmers.”

St. Al won three individual state championships, to go along with six second-place finishes and two thirds.
Martin won the 50-yard breaststroke in the Grades 7-9 division, and was second in the 100 freestyle. Eckstein and Clark both won gold medals in the 50-yard backstroke — Eckstein in the Grades 7-9 division, and Clark in the Grades 10-12 division.

Swimmers in the meet were divided by grades for individual competition, but the points they earned were totaled into each school’s team score. The girls’ and boys’ scores were also combined.

Clark also joined Jacob Waisner, Charlie Martin and Andrew Ulmer on the winning 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams.

“Their swims were so good. Tommy swam a 29.1 (seconds) in the 50 breast and that was like a two-second drop for him. And then he went 51 (seconds) in the 100 free and got second,” Ebersole said. “We had lots of swimmers like that.”

In the girls’ meet, Adrienne Eckstein posted second-place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle and the 50 backstroke in the Grades 10-12 division. She clocked a time of 26.31 seconds in the freestyle and 29.65 seconds in the backstroke.

Leah Larson was second in the Grades 7-9 division 50-yard butterfly, and third in the 100 freestyle.

In its second year in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, St. Al finished as the state runner-up for the second time. The gap this year was bigger than in 2015, when a false start on a relay in the middle of the meet negated a state championship swim and wound up costing the Flashes the team title.

Team championships are based largely on depth, as teams like Jackson Prep have enough swimmers to earn points in almost every event and thinner teams like St. Al have a hard time keeping up.

Considering that, Ebersole was elated with his team’s performance on Wednesday. He didn’t rule out being able to compete for a team championship next year, as long as the math works out a little better.

“You never know. Some years the relays work better for us. We just need more depth. We certainly have the quality. It’s just going to be hard for us to score 290 points,” Ebersole said. “But we’re swimming great. We’re at the (Madison) St. Joe Invitational on Saturday and we’re going to give a run to Madison Central and Clinton and those (MHSAA) teams.”