By Gene Phelps
The Itawamba AHS swim team needed a van to attend last season’s North state meet.
This year, they needed a bus.
Coach Chris Johnson has seen his Indians team grow from eight swimmers in 2014 to 21 combined on the boys and girls squads.
“I did some recruiting at school and I let the kids do some recruiting,” Johnson said. “A lot of kids want to be a part of something. Our girls team is young and growing. We’re trying to find some younger boys to join the team.”
More numbers translates into more points. At last week’s MHSAA Class 1 North Swim Championships at Delta State, Itawamba’s boys finished fourth with 58 points while the girls were fourth with 57.
“We’re proud of those point totals,” Johnson said. “We worked hard for that. We’re trying to build a state championship program here at Itawamba.”
Freshman swimmer Cooper Clevenger won the North championship in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle in times of 51.67 seconds and 1:52.40. He was also on the 400-yard freestyle relay team that finished second. His teammates in the relay were Joe Douglas, J.T. Hillhouse and Harris Brown.
“It’s going to take a lot more practice to win state,” Clevenger said. “I’m going to have to go harder in practice. If everybody else, including me, hit our times, we can do well at state.”
The MHSAA Swim Championships are scheduled for Oct. 31 at the Tupelo Aquatic Center.
Tupelo’s boys team easily won the Class 2 North championship at DSU with 179 points, 89 points more than second-place Clinton.
The Lady Wave finished second with 114 points to winner Madison Central’s 176.
The Golden Wave boys have won nine of the last 10 state titles.
Tupelo’s 200 medley relay team of Drew Sullivan, Hayden Henderson, Harrison Whitaker and Luke Deaton won North state in 1:43.40.
The Wave also won the 200 free relay in 1:30.92 with Donovan Crossen, Patrick Hastings, Luke Deaton and Liam Manning. They won the 400 free relay in 3:17.82 with Crossen, Hastings, Drew Sullivan and Manning.
Crossen won the 100 butterfly in 52.84 and the 500 free in 4:52.90.
Mattie Hughes won the girls 500 free in 5:22.52.