Mississippi High School State Championships

By Lauren Sampl, Swimming World intern

BILOXI, Mississippi, October 25. SEVEN new state records were established over the weekend as Mississippi's best high school swimmers gathered for the annual state championships, held at Biloxi Natatorium in Biloxi. Tupelo High School claimed the state championship for the fourth year in a row on the boys' side, while Oxford High School took home the girls' crown.

The Tupelo boys amassed 401 points to easily outdistance the second and third place teams from Madison Central (247 points) and Biloxi (192.5 points).

Meanwhile, the Oxford girls tallied 290.5 points en route to the title, while Tupelo (218 points) and Madison Central (213 points) rounded out the top three.

Tupelo's Bailey Scott, Lacy Russell, Cris Roberts, and Rachel Wilson kicked off the meet in impressive fashion, winning the opening 200 medley relay by more than 2 seconds, in a time of 1:55.44. Madison Central's relay took home second place in 1:57.67, while Oxford grabbed third in 1:58.14.

The boys of Tupelo quickly followed suit, with the quartet of John Servanti, Rick Deaton, Colton Fremont, and Jackson Nabors obliterating their own state record of 1:40.78 from 2009, winning by more than 5 seconds in 1:38.60. In a tight race for second place, Biloxi anchor Ashton Robertson got his hand on the wall just ahead of Parker King of Madison Central, 1:44.13 to 1:44.41.

Fresh off her swim in the 200 medley relay, Russell cruised to victory in the 200 free, posting a time of 1:54.39. She was the only swimmer in the field under the 2:00 barrier. Servanti kept the train rolling for Tupelo, racing to a win in the 200 free. He crushed Timothy Dasinger's state record of 1:43.72, set in 2008, with a quick swim of 1:41.95. Mihailo Nikolic completed the 1-2 punch for Tupelo, finishing second in 1:45.11.

Paige Baisden of Biloxi finally ended Tupelo's parade to the podium, posting a 2:13.64 en route to a victory in the 200 IM. In the boys' individual medley, Ben Vaughan of Clinton High scorched the state record, posting a 1:57.88, well under Derek Mize's effort of 2:00.10 from 1998. Colton Fremont of Tupelo garnered second place honors, just missing the old state record with a 2:00.94.

In the 50 free, Bailey Scott of Tupelo raced to a win in 24.83, while MariMac Collins of St. Joseph Catholic (25.52) and Courtney Goff of Clinton (25.58) duked it out for second and third place. Clark Garner of Mize just clipped the state record by .01 with a 21.58 in the 50, winning by nearly eight tenths of a second over Rick Deaton of Tupelo.

Baisden scored her second individual title of the meet with a clocking of 1:00.95 in the 100 fly. Less than half a second separated the top three finishers, as Alyx Wszolek of Madison Central snared second in 1:01.04, and Rachel Dees of Ripley raced to third in 1:01.40. On the boys' side, Kelly Edwards of St. Patrick's earned top honors with a winning time of 51.97. Andrew Mullen of Oxford and Colton Fremont of Tupelo finished just two one-hundredths apart, swimming times of 54.29 and 54.31, respectively.

Russell followed up her win in the 200 free with a convincing victory in the 100, racing to a time of 53.67. MariMac Collins finished nearly two seconds behind her at 55.63. In what turned out to be a three-man race, Matt Nichols of Oxford took home the boy's sprint crown with an impressive time of 47.27. Nichols, Clark Garner (47.36), and Kelly Edwards (47.90) were the only three swimmers under the 50-second barrier in the event.

The 500 free, the longest event on the high school schedule, saw two new winners emerge, as Laura Smith (Brandon High) won the girls' title in 5:17.27, and Mihailo Nikolic (Tupelo) was victorious in 4:41.27.

In one of the closest races of the meet, the foursome of Alma Burwell, Nicole Robinson, Haven Harris, and Dora Chen of Oxford won a nail-biter in the 200 free relay, just out-touching the squad from St. Joseph Catholic, 1:44.49 to 1:44.59. The boy's race was not nearly as close, as Rick Deaton, Mihailo Nikolic, Jackson Nabors, and John Servanti put their stamp on the event, winning by six seconds and crushing their own school record with a sizzling time of 1:28.89. The previous record stood at 1:32.58, set in 2007.

Natalie Tatum of Madison Central came back after anchoring her team to a third place finish in the 200 free relay to win the 100 back with a time of 1:01.27. Alyx Wszolek finished second in 1:02.32, while Bailey Scott of Tupelo cracked the podium with a third place effort of 1:02.63. Servanti, also just out of the relay, showed no sign of fatigue as he dominated the 100 back, winning by more than four seconds and establishing a new state record of 51.48 in the process. It was Servanti's second individual win of the meet, and his second state record.

In the 100 breast, Laken Vickers of Starkville swam to a win in 1:09.59, the only swimmer under 1:10 in the event. Oxford's Matthew Nichols shattered the state record of 1:00.75 set in 2001 by J.T. Jones with an outstanding swim of 58.12. Nichols also won the 50 free crown earlier in the meet. Rick Deaton picked up more points for Tupelo with his second place finish of 1:01.79.

Tupelo closed out the state meet with impressive wins in both the girls' and boys' 400 free relays. Lacy Russell, Cris Roberts, Rachel Wilson, and Bailey Scott , the same four that won the opening medley relay, claimed victory in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:46.29. Mihailo Nikolic, Colton Fremont, Michael Ray, and Eli Jones closed out the meet in exciting fashion, posting a solid effort of 3:24.27 to win the boys' relay by just half a second over Biloxi.