Blaise Vera Shines, Nine State Records Fall at Mississippi High School Championships


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By Alec Scott, Swimming World College Intern

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Nine state records fell at Saturday night’s Mississippi high school swimming championships in Tupelo. In addition to the record breaking swims the meet was highlighted by some dominant performances in the team race.

Class 2 (5-6A) Recap

Girl’s Meet

The class two girls meet started off with a record breaking swim in the 200 Medley relay by the Madison Central high school team of Mallory Dickey on backstroke, Jessica Blanchard on breaststroke, Chandler Carter on butterfly, and Maddie Howell on the freestyle. They established a new mark of 1:49.32 breaking the old record of 1:49.90 set in 2014 by Madison Central. Tupelo high school and Northwest Rankin high school rounded out the top three.

Madison central teammates Howell and Dickey had busy evenings picking up individual wins in two events as well as swimming key legs on two state-record breaking relays. Howell won the 50 freestyle in 24.03 and the 100 butterfly in 59.38 while Dickey won the 200 Individual medley in 2:11.13 and the 100 backstroke in 58.82.

It was a Madison Central sweep in the 50 freestyle as Paige Kessler took second and her teammate Lillie Entrekin finished third behind Howell. In the 100 butterfly Howell was followed by teammate Carter and St. Martin high school’s Katie White.

In the 200 individual medley Dickey won a close race against Madison Central teammate Blanchard. Desoto Central high school’s Abbie Kilpatrick finished third. Dickey was followed in the 100 backstroke by Ocean Springs high school’s Gabrielle Ivey and Northwest Rankin high school’s Rachel Berry.

Paige Kessler followed up her second place finish in the 50 freestyle with a win in the 100 freestyle in 54.17. It was another dominant event for Madison Central as Chandler Carter finished second Desoto Central’s Rachel Winningham finished third.

The 200 freestyle relay saw another state record fall at the hands of Madison Central. The team of Howell, Blanchard, Entrekin, and Kessler finished in a 1:39.98 to dip under the old record of 1:40.07 set by Madison Central in 2014. Northwest Rankin took second and Oxford high school took third.

Madison Central’s Blanchard got the individual win that eluded her earlier in the meet by picking up a win in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:07.37. Tupelo’s Marissa Michael took second place and Natalie Cox from Germantown high school took third.

In the 400 freestyle relay the Madison Central girls took down their third relay record of the night with a time of 3:40.61. The team of Dickey, Carter, Olivia Smith, and Kessler took down the old record of 3:41.43 set by St. Andrews in 2013. Tupelo and Ocean Springs rounded out the top three in the final girls event of the evening.

The class two a girl’s championship was a near clean sweep for Madison Central. Only Ocean Springs’ Gabrielle Ivey in the 200 freestyle and Tupelo’s Mattie Hughes represented other schools on top of the podium.

Ivey won the 200 freestyle in 1:58.25 followed by Hughes and Northwest Rankin’s Addison Russell.

Hughes won the 500 freestyle in 5:14.47, Russell and Tupelo’s West finished second and third, respectively.

Madison Central capped a dominant meet by winning their third consecutive state championship with 159 points. Tupelo finished second with 84 points and Northwest Rankin took third with 61 points.

Boy’s Meet

The Tupelo high school boys kicked the class two meet off with a state record 1:37.49 in the 200 medley relay taking down a six-year-old record also held by Tupelo. The relay featured Drew Sullivan on the backstroke leg, Hayden Henderson on the breaststroke, Harrison Whitaker on the butterfly, and Donovan Crossen on the freestyle. Oak Grove high school and Clinton high school finished second and third.

University of Pittsburgh commit Blaise Vera from Clinton showed why he was a sought after division one prospect by lowering his own state records in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Vera just snuck under his state record in the 50 freestyle of 20.77 by swimming a 20.68 in Saturday night’s finals. Finishing behind Vera were Kameron Orman and Elliot Watt.

However, the swim of the night came in Vera’s 100 freestyle where he blasted a 44.74 to crush his own state record of 45.84 set at last year’s championships. He was followed by Crossen and Watt.

Oak Grove high school sophomore Alex Miller lowered his own state record in the 100 butterfly by a full second to a 50.43. Finishing second and third in the 100 butterfly were Whitaker and Evan Guichard, respectively. With a 50.51 in the morning’s prelims Brandon high school’s Khameron Glass broke a six year old state record in the 100 backstroke held by former Alabama standout John Servati. Glass picked up the win tonight in a slightly slower 50.85 over Biloxi school’s Stephen Jones and Tupelo high school’s Sullivan.

Jones picked up a win of his own in the 200 individual medley in one of the closest races of the night. Jones finished less than a second off the state record in 1:54.93, Center Hill high school freshman Taylor Williams finished second in 1:54.97, and Glass finished third.

Tupelo high school’s Crossen impressively won the 200 freestyle in a 1:43.68 immediately after swimming the freestyle leg of the 200 medley relay. Oak Grove’s Miller and Madison Central freshman Blake Peeples rounded out the top three.

In the 500 freestyle, West Jones high school’s Triston Little picked up the victory in a 4:40.36. Madison Central’s Peeples finished second and Tupelo’s Sullivan followed.

In the 200 freestyle relay Tupelo picked up the victory in 1:30.11, West Jones was second and Hernando high school placed third.

After coming within four-one-hundredths of winning the 200 individual medley Center Hill’s Williams picked up the win in the 100 breaststroke with a 58.46. Tupelo’s Henderson finished second and Biloxi’s LaNasa touched third.

In the final event of the evening, the Oak Grove boys broke the state record in the 400 freestyle relay with a 3:14.89. Capping an impressive individual evening, Miller led off in a 47.23. He was followed by Lane Evans, Oakley Camille and Watt who anchored in 47.12. They were followed by Clinton, which got a 44.44 split from stud sprinter Vera. Tupelo rounded out the top three.

At the end of the night the Tupelo boys collected their unprecedented 10th consecutive state championship with 128 points, Oak Grove finished second with 75 points and Clinton finished third with 54 points.

Class 1 (1-4A) Recap

Girl’s Meet

St. Joseph Catholic won the girl’s class one state championship in dominant fashion with 140 points. St. Andrews Episcopal school placed second with 81 points and Vancleave high school finished third with 57 points.

On the way to their team title St. Joseph Catholic swept all three relays.

Vancleave’s Cait Chandler won both the 200 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. In the 200 freestyle St. Joseph’s Anna Chris Nicholas took second and Amory high school’s Emily Pierce took third. While Chandler was followed by St. Joseph’s Emma Adkins and St. Patrick Catholic’s Jeanne Torp in the 100 freestyle.

Madison McLean from the Mississippi School for Math and Science was the only other double event winner as she won both the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke. In the 200 individual medley Alex Smith from Cleveland high school and Arilyn Thomas from St. Joseph’s Catholic finished second and third, respectively.

Other Winners:

  • Cameron Tubb, Amory, 50 freestyle
  • Ginny Ray Clevenger, Itawambe, 100 butterfly
  • Elizabeth Weisenberger, St. Joseph Catholic, 500 freestyle
  • Anna Chris Nicholas, Joseph Catholic, 100 backstroke

Boy’s Meet

In a closely contested team race the St. Stanislaus boys came away with the class one state title with 105 points. St. Andrews Episcopal school took second with 92 points and Cleveland high school took third with 89 points.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal’s Jack Smithson was the star of the class one meet picking up wins in the 100 butterfly in 51.82 and 100 backstroke in 53.46. He was the only swimmer to win multiple events in the class one meet and his 100 butterfly was a new class one record.

Other Winners:

  • Stanislaus, 200 Medley Relay
  • Will Baugh, Cleveland high school, 200 freestyle
  • Christian McKee, St. Patrick Catholic, 200 individual medley
  • Trace Steadman, Cleveland high school, 50 freestyle
  • Cooper Clevenger, Itawambe, 100 freestyle
  • Kenny Thomas, St. Joseph Catholic, 500 freestyle
  • Cleveland high school, 200 freestyle relay
  • Boyd Housey, St. Stanislaus, 100 breaststroke
  • Andrews Episcopal, 400 freestyle relay

Full meet results can be found on meet mobile

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7 years ago

Very well written. Thanks for the coverage!

7 years ago

Would appreciate just as much coverage for the Class 1… we had relays as well…

Terry C.
Terry C.
7 years ago

With the victory St. Joseph’s Girls have won back-to-back Mississippi Class 1 titles and are the odds-on favorite to three-peat in 2017.

7 years ago
Reply to  Terry C.

But yo also have to understand that Class 1 is extreeemmmlllllyyy slower than Class 2. I believe it really isn’t worth covering it as a separate section. It should just be joined to class 2. Its really a false sense of victory for the kids also because the kid who won the 50 free wouldn’t have even made it to the final for class 2 for example.

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