IAHS swimming produces state champions, medals in year three

By SCOTTY NICHOLS
Sports Editor

The Itawamba AHS swim team is only in its third year of competition but it

Courtesy photo The IAHS swim team, in its third year of existance, made a huge splash in the north meet and followed it up with an impressive showing at the state competition. Front row kneeling, left to right, Noah Evans, Natalia Rodriguez, Cora Yielding, Sarah Craft, JennaClaire Johnson and Harris Brown. Back row, Tyler Patterson, Noah Locastro, assistant coach Steve Kerr, Jordan Chatham, Abigail Craft, Eliza Johnson, Cooper Clevenger, head coach Chris Johnson, Tori Suggs, Katherine Pate and Ginny Ray Clevenger.

Courtesy photo
The IAHS swim team, in its third year of existance, made a huge splash in the north meet and followed it up with an impressive showing at the state competition. Front row kneeling, left to right, Noah Evans, Natalia Rodriguez, Cora Yielding, Sarah Craft, JennaClaire Johnson and Harris Brown.
Back row, Tyler Patterson, Noah Locastro, assistant coach Steve Kerr, Jordan Chatham, Abigail Craft, Eliza Johnson, Cooper Clevenger, head coach Chris Johnson, Tori Suggs, Katherine Pate and Ginny Ray Clevenger.

is already reaping success from the hard work that the swimmers are putting in.

After a solid finish in the north state meet, the Indian swimmers followed up with another strong showing in the state meet, including the crowining of a pair of state champions – siblings, Ginny Ray and Cooper Clevenger.

Ginny Ray took the first-place finish in the girls’ 100-meter butterfly, while Cooper claimed the championship in the boys’ 100-meter freestyle.

“When I touched the wall and turned around to see the board with a No. 1 by my name, I knew then that all the training had paid off,” said Ginny Ray.

While Ginny Ray Clevenger took the gold in the 100-meter fly, another member of the IAHS squad took silver, as Eliza Johnson took the silver.

“Ginny Ray and Eliza train together every day and they really push each other,” said head coach Chris Johnson. “It has been fun watching those girls compete against each other in practice and then knowing that they’re the best two in the state in that event.”

“Cooper is going to be Cooper,” said coach Johnson, regarding the elder Clevenger’s state title. “He’s been a champion for us for three years and now he’ll be recognized as one for the rest of his life. He won the state title in the freestyle immediately after he finished silver in the 100-meter fly, which is a very physically draining event. It just shows the physical and mental strength of that young man.”

“I was glad to see all the practice pay off,” said Cooper. “It was great to accomplish my goal at the state level.”

To go along with the pair of individual state championships, the girls’ pulled off a bronze medal finish in the 200-meter medley relay.

“We had to have every girl swim at her absolute personal best, and they did,” said Johnson. “Eliza went 30 seconds on her back, Tori (Suggs) ripped a 35 in the breast stroke, Ginny Ray went 29 seconds in the fly and then Katherine (Pate) did exactly what we needed a senior to do – save her best for her last meet. It was the first relay medal for Itawamba in our three-year history.”

The girls’ team finished fourth overall, while the boys’ team finished eighth in the final standings.

The team has a ton of youth coming back, led by the state-champion Clevenger siblings and silver medalist Eliza Johnson, so the fast-track to success seems to be in the early stages as the future looks bright for Itawamba swimming.

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.

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