County swimmers, divers seeking state crowns
By: Mike Jones
The Woodlands girls 200 freestyle relay team is set to compete at state Friday and Saturday. The relay team is, from left, Ashley McClelland, Amanda McClelland, Kelly Flynn and Kalyn Amundsen. (Staff photo by JERRY BAKER)
Montgomery County swimming and diving athletes will be going for the gold this weekend at the UIL State Championships in Austin.
The Woodlands High School girls enter state as regional champs, with Gabrielle Maddalena, Rebekah Bleyl and Ashley McClelland leading the way as double-qualifiers in the 5A competition. Others county athletes who will be competing at two events at state include Oak Ridge's Meredith McCarthy and Conroe's Sean LeNeave in 5A and New Caney's
Brad Safarik in 4A.
Montgomery will have nine athletes competing in the 4A competition at state, including sophomore diver J.J. Kinzbach, who is expected to break the state points record in 4A.
"He'll definitely break that record," said Montgomery head coach Bob Lieber. "He'll qualify for All-American and so will (senior diver) Melanie Cabassol."
Montgomery swimming competitors include freshmen Kristen Gropp and Kelsey Polovina, as well as Graham Mullings, with each having qualified for state in two events. Also, Travis Hubbs and Eric Phelps will be competing in individual events, with the girls and boys also going for medals in relay events.
"The kids have been training hard the past couple of weeks to get ready for this," said Lieber. "I think as a team the boys can finish in the top six. The girls should finish in the top fifteen. That's real good for a team that's only a few years old. The kids are progressing well."
The Montgomery boys had their heads shaved for the competition at a pep rally at the school Wednesday.
"That was pretty unique, with the whole student body watching," said Lieber.
Preliminaries at state in swimming and diving are on Friday, with the finals set for Saturday.
What: UIL State Swimming and Diving Championships
Who: Includes competitors from TWHS, ORHS, Montgomery, Conroe and New Caney
Where: Texas Swimming Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin