Lake shines at state swim finals
     2016-03-04      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Jane White/Special for the Gering Citizen The Seacats McKay Lake competes in the 400-meter relay. He placed eighth in the 100-meter freestyle and 10th in the 50-meter freestyle. 
The Scottsbluff/Gering swimming and diving team didn’t finish where they wanted at the state championship in Lincoln on Feb. 27, but one of the younger Seacats turned in some outstanding performances.

McKay Lake finished his sophomore season by taking home an eighth place medal in the 100-yard freestyle event. Swimming in his first state final event, he posted a time of 49.16. He also posted a 22.35 time to take 10th placed in the 50-meter freestyle event.

“Those are maturity events where the bigger, stronger boys are the top finishers,” said Seacat Head Coach Mike Hayhurst. “McKay is a sophomore and not overly big, so those are really good finishes for him.”

Lake also swam the opening leg in both boys’ relay events, which included teammates Tito Garcia, John Stark and Ian Galindo. With a time of 1:30.82, the Seacats placed 12th in the 200-meter freestyle relay. In the 400-meter freestyle relay, their time was 3:20.66, good enough for 11th place.

Galindo was fighting off the lingering effects of an upper respiratory condition, but improved as the meet went on. Still, both boys’ relay teams had their best times in the finals and improved their times from the preliminary rounds.

Gering junior Avery Bailey, in his first year of diving, placed 15th. “That’s unheard of for a first time diver,” Hayhurst said. “For him to place at state is a phenomenal feat.”

With 46 team points, the Seacat boys finished in 16th place. The girls’ three relay teams failed to place in any of the events.
Still, Hayhurst said, nine of the 12 leg swimmers on relay teams posted the best times.

Sophomore Lia Selvey, who has been a member of the Seacats for the past two years, competed at the state finals in the Special Olympics 50-meter freestyle event. “Lia won the event easily by about 15 yards,” Hayhurst said. “She’s not just a kid who goes to that event, she’s on our team all the time. She takes part in all our practices, even mornings, goes to all our meets and participates in all our activities.”

Selvey won the 50-meter freestyle over eight competitors from across the state. She also won the event last year. This was Lia’s final season with the Seacats, as she will attend a new school next year.

Looking back on the season, Hayhurst was pleased. “Both teams were undefeated in the dual season and the girls haven’t lost a dual meet since 2001,” he said. “We don’t swim a lot of dual meets, but it’s still a great accomplishment go undefeated that long.”

At the conference meet just prior to the state finals, the Seacat boys finished with a strong second place and the girls were in third. Hayhurst also pointed out the team has 27 honor roll students and 11 of them have at a grade point average of 3.7 or better. Three of them carry a 4.0 average. The team has two High School Academic All-Americans – Jon Hastings from Gering and Megan Hayhurst from Scottsbluff. To qualify, they must have a four-year overall grade point average of 3.75 or better and be a letter winner. Over the past 15 years, the Seacats have produced 38 All-Americans.

The Seacats lose three boys and six girls to graduation this year. However, the girls will gain at least four quality club swimmers who will be freshmen next year.

“All our girl captains and one of the captains for the boys are graduating, so we have some leadership to build next year,” Hayhurst said. “We also have to get more kids swimming year round, but overall I think the team will be even better next year. It gives you a lot of experience when you take 17 to state.”

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