North titles set stage for swim battle

Tupelo’s Lady Wave and Golden Wave swim teams hoisted the MHSAA’s North Mississippi championship trophies last Saturday in Jackson.
However, THS coach Lucas Smith says a repeat performance this Saturday in Biloxi at the state meet is not guaranteed.
“Nobody’s a heavy favorite,” he said, prior to Monday’s practice session at Rob Leake City Park pool. “You’ve got to be able to get in there and do it.
“It will be a battle. There will be a lot teams competing and points all over the place.”
In the North Mississippi meet, Tupelo’s Lady Wave edged two-time defending state champion Oxford by two points while the two-time defending state champion Golden Wave boys captured a 123-point win over the Chargers.
Smith expects Oxford and South champion Oak Grove to be in the running for the state title in boys and girls.
“Oxford’s got great teams,” he said. “They’re pretty deep. They will have a different lineup (for state). They’re always tough and always get it done.”
In the North meet, Tupelo’s girls needed a second-place finish in the final event, 200-yard medley relay, to edge Oxford.
“It was too close,” said Lady Wave senior Hannah Wilson, who competed in the medley relay. “Our team’s strong, but so is Oxford’s. It’s going to be very competitive.”
Wilson, who is expected to swim in four events at state, has won 14 individual state titles during her career.
“I usually have faster times at state because I have a different mentality,” she said.
Wilson won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races in the North state meet and was a member of the winning medley and 200-yard freestyle relay units.
The Lady Wave’s last state title, the program’s seventh, came in 2006.
On the boys side, John Servati headed up the winning 400-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay units and captured the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke North titles.
Despite Tupelo’s lopsided victory, he doesn’t feel secure about the Wave’s chances for a third straight state title win.
“Anything can happen at the state meet,” he said. “People on other teams can step up. We’ve got to bring our game, own everything we swim.”

Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@djournal.com

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal