Flashes pile up second-place finishes at MAIS swim meet
Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2021
FLOWOOD — St. Aloysius’ swim team was at its best when it mattered the most.
Unfortunately, so were a few other teams.
St. Al posted a number of personal-best times and had eight second-place finishes in 22 events at the MAIS Overall Swim Meet, but did not score an individual championship and had its two-year reign as team champs come to an end as well.
The Flashes finished fourth out of 13 teams, with 151 points. Madison-Ridgeland Academy won its first swimming state championship with 221 points, Jackson Prep was second with 217 and Madison-St. Joseph third with 175.
St. Al won the team title in 2019, and there was no state meet in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a bunch of kids who had been out of the pool for a year. I’m so proud of the effort they made today. To even be in the same breath with schools like Prep, and St. Joe, and MRA, after all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through is incredible,” St. Al coach Wilson Carroll said.
Although it was fourth in the team standings, St. Al seemed to be perpetually in second place in the pool.
The girls’ and boys’ 200 medley relay teams both finished second in the first two events of the meet, and then a string of individual runner-up performances followed.
Sophomore Jon Daniel Busby placed second in the boys’ 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke, and was on both the medley relay team and the 200 freestyle relay team that finished second.
“Second and third consistently is good, but there are so many fast kids from club teams (on other teams),” Busby said. “We have a few swimmers from the club team, but MRA and Prep have a lot of the really fast kids. It’s less that we did good, and it’s more they did better. It’s not that we’re slow. It’s that they have more quantity and quality.”
Layne Sparks and Spencer Carroll joined Busby on both the medley and freestyle relays. Matthew Busby was the fourth member for the 200 freestyle relay, and Luke Larson filled that role for the medley relay.
Busby posted a time of 1:03.34 in the 100 breaststroke that was two seconds faster than his seed time, but two seconds behind the winning mark of Jackson Prep’s Bennett Carter.
“That’s a really good time for this point in the season,” Busby said. “When we shave and taper for state to really get in the zone, it usually drops around four seconds off of my time. So I’m right where I need to be to go the time I want in February for Short Course State.”
Spencer Carroll and Emily Cook turned in runner-up efforts in the boys’ and girls’ 50-yard freestyle, and Leah Larson was second in the girls’ 100-yard butterfly.
Both Cook and Leah Larson were on the 200 medley relay as well, along with sophomore Katelyn Clark and seventh-grader Hendrix Eldridge. Cook is a junior and Larson is a senior.
“Leah has been a leader on this team her entire career. We’re going to hate to see her go. How do you replace a Leah? You just don’t,” Wilson Carroll said.
Carroll will have to try next season, however, with a talented corps of young swimmers and returning upperclassmen.
Cook was undefeated in the 50 and 100 freestyle events until the state meet — she finished fourth in the 100 — and underclassmen Eldridge, Connor and Taylor Johnston, Luke Larson, Campbell McCoy, Katelyn Clark, and Jon Daniel and Matthew Busby were all in the championship heats in various events.
Another junior, Bree Butler, qualified for the championship heat in the 100 breaststroke but could not compete because of a concussion she suffered last week while playing soccer.
“Every child on this team cut time, and that’s all I can ask as a coach,” Wilson Carroll said. “We’re losing some important seniors like Leah Larson and Spencer (Carroll), but boy do we have a stable of young talent on this team. They all seem excited, and I think the future looks bright for this program.”