Young Seacats look to gain state meet experience
     2015-02-26      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Scottsbluff/Gering certainly will not have the largest delegation at the Nebraska State Swimming and Diving and Championships this week in Lincoln, but the Seacats will still be well represented and looking to gain experience for future state meets.

Competition begins today (Thursday) and continues through Saturday at the University of Nebraska’s Bob Devaney Sports Center aquatic facility.

The Seacats qualified for 12 swims, two of which were automatic qualifying times while the other 12 were alternate-qualifying marks selected to fill out the state field.

“I told the kids that we’re going to a faster pool and a better environment, as far as being able to warm down, warm up, get a lot of rest, being able to focus on just a few thinks instead of a whole bunch of events,” said Mike Hayhurst, who is completing his 15th season as the Scottsbluff/Gering program coach.

“Our goal is to get all best times and see where it goes from there.”
For the Scottsbluff/Gering boys, sophomores John Stark and Ian Galindo will both be competing in two individual events and on two relays.

Stark is an automatic qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle and is the anchor for the automatic-qualifying 400-yard freestyle relay.
Stark, who also will swim in the 200 freestyle, will be joined in the 400 free relay by Galindo, sophomore Tito Garcia-Ortiz and freshman McKay Lake. Galindo will compete in the open 100 freestyle and 200 individual medley races.

Scottsbluff/Gering’s 200 freestyle relay features Lake, Garcia-Ortiz, senior James Maag and Stark. Maag also earned a secondary-qualifying berth in the 500 freestyle race.

The Seacats’ 200 medley quartet is Maag, junior Jon Hastings, Galindo and Lake.
Other individual qualifiers include Lake in the 50 freestyle and Hastings in the 100 breaststroke. Freshman Chase Osland is entered as the boys’ relay alternate.

“A lot of our boys have an opportunity to possibly place,” Hayhurst said. “So we’ve talked about trying to drop a lot of time and placing in the top 16 in some events and scoring points for the team.”
The Seacat girls qualified two secondary entries, both in relay events.

The 200-yard medley relay is composed of senior Cierra Weatherfield, junior Sarah Cloud, junior Hannah Holloway and sophomore Anna Yanke.
The 400 freestyle relay consists of Holloway, Weatherfield, junior Megan Hayhurst and Yanke.

Senior Makala Fogg and sophomore Hailey Sanderson are going as alternates.
“A few years back, we had four or five kids who got sick the week of state,” Hayhurst said. “They ended up all swimming, but at that time I didn’t take alternates so that made me really worried. So now I take alternates.”

In addition, Scottsbluff freshman Lia Selvey will be competing in an exhibition Special Olympics 50-yard freestyle race, for which eight competitors selected for each of the boys’ and girls’ races.
“And she’s the top seed, so that’s pretty cool,” Hayhurst said of Selvey. “She went through a selection process and actually she is the fastest in her category, by quite a little bit, so we’ll see how that goes. That’s pretty exciting for her.”

Hayhurst said the state meet It’s good experience for everybody, especially for the first-time qualifiers and alternates.
“Our team is pretty young and relatively inexperienced, so this will be a great situation for them,” Hayhurst said.

“The nice thing about taking the alternates is they get to go see what the state experience is all about, and when they make it down the road, it won be quite so scary and new for them.”
Editor’s note: See page B10 for a photo tribute to the Seacat state qualifiers.

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