John Servati wants to see Tupelo High School’s boys swim team make a statement Saturday at the state meet in Biloxi.
“We want to dominate,” said the Golden Wave senior, who won the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke at last week’s North state meet in Jackson. “I think if we could win by 150 points that would say something.”
Tupelo enters the meet as the favorite to win its fourth consecutive state championship. The Wave defeated Oxford by 74 points last season to capture state.
“Our boys can win state, but they have to swim what they’re seeded or better,” THS coach Lucas Smith said. “They can’t fall back. If they do, they’ll open the door.”
The Golden Wave boys won the North meet by 146.5 points over Madison Central and a 20-team field. Biloxi won the South state meet in boys and girls.
Oxford, Madison Central and Tupelo were the top three finishers in the girls North competition. The Lady Chargers scored 328 points to MC’s 255 and Tupelo’s 254.
“Biloxi’s always good, but I think the girls teams to beat are from the North,” Smith said. “Oxford and Madison Central are the top two.
“As for us, we’ve got some really fast girls, but we will need some help from some South teams.”
Servati will swim the 200 free and the 100 back in the state meet. His main competition in the 200 will be teammate Mihailo Nikolic, who won the North state title. Nikolic, a Serbian exchange student, will also swim the 500 free, which he won last week.
“John and Mihailo will go after it in the 200,” Smith said. “They will push each other.”
Servati and Nikolic will also be assigned to two of the team’s three relay units. Those positions do not have to be finalized until race day.
Lacy Russell, a double winner in the 100 and 200 free last week at North state, will swim the same events this week for Tupelo. Her goal is to beat former teammate Hannah Wilson’s state record time of 52.88 seconds set last year.
Russell swam a 54.40 to win North state.
“That’s a monster record, but that’s what you want her to shoot for,” Smith said. “I like that.”
– Joining THS and Oxford at the state meet will be swimmers from Amory, Ripley, Starkville, Tupelo Christian Prep and West Point.
– Ripley’s lone swimmer, freshman Rachel Dees, won the 200 individual medley at the North meet. She finished second last year at state in the 100 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke.
– Other North state champions competing are: 50 free – Bailey Scott, Tupelo; Matthew Nichols, Oxford; 100 butterfly – Cris Roberts, Tupelo; Nichols, Oxford; 500 free – Dora Chen, Oxford; 100 breast – Laken Vickers, Starkville; Rick Deaton, Tupelo.
– Tupelo’s girls won state last year, ending Oxford’s two-year reign. The THS girls have won eight state titles and the boys three.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal