By Blake Long | Special to the Journal
CLEVELAND – Tupelo coach Lucas Smith admitted his team was only going for one state record at the MHSAA state swimming championships Saturday.
The Golden Wave broke that record, and also added two more to their resume in claiming the 2011 Class II girls and boys state swimming titles at the Delta State Aquatic Center.
It’s the fifth straight championship for the Tupelo boys, while the Lady Wave avenged their loss to Oxford in last year’s championships. Tupelo’s girls last won a state title in 2009.
The two state championships were also historic for Tupelo High School, as they are the 100th and 101st state titles in school history.
Tupelo’s Bailey Scott came up just over two-tenths of a second short of setting a state record in the 50-yard freestyle at last year’s state meet in Biloxi. This year, she left no doubts.
Scott broke the previous record of 24.59 by recording a 23.97 mark in successfully defending her state title.
“I felt great and the pool swam really fast,” Scott said. “I was hoping, but I didn’t know for sure if I could break it.”
In the meet’s first event, the unit of Scott, Chelsie Gray, Cris Roberts and Lauren Bean eclipsed the state record in the 200 medley relay by nearly a second, finishing at 1:52.69.
Tupelo’s boys would close the meet by doing something they hadn’t done all season. The Golden Wave crew of Colton Fremont, Michael Ray, Eli Jones and Connor Chase defeated Madison Central by nearly three seconds in the 400 freestyle relay for the first time this season.
The relay win was in record-breaking fashion for Tupelo, beating the old state record of 3:22.36 set in 2004 at 3:21.79.
“Bailey was trying to break that state record, but that’s the only one we knew we were trying to get,” a soaking-wet Smith said after his team pushed him into the pool. “The two relay records, man, we just let ’em go.”
Tupelo would win eight individual championships and all six relay events to down runner-ups Oxford (girls) and Madison Central (boys).
“I’m glad its over,” Smith said. “I’m happy now. I knew we had a chance. It’s a long meet and if we hadn’t kept the intensity up, we’d have gotten beat.”
Andrew Mullen (Oxford) and Laken Vickers (Starkville) claimed individual championships for their schools.
Though St. Andrews girls and St. Aloysius boys claimed the Class I team championships, Ripley’s Rachel Dees left Delta State with medals of her own. Dees claimed state titles in the 100 breaststroke and the 100 butterfly.
She posted a 1:09.78 time in the breaststroke and finished the butterfly in 1:01.57 seconds.