[cleeng_content id="576415793" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]SHEPHERDSTOWN – Washington seniors Shawn Gee and Derek Carson have spent the better part of the past three months leaving the competition in their wake and dominating the regional swimming scene.
Now the stakes have grown considerably more challenging.
Fresh off stellar performances during the Region II championships last Saturday at Shepherd University, Gee and Carson carry the weight of the county on their shoulders as they likely represent the local area’s best chances to bring home a state title for a second consecutive year.
Last February, Jefferson’s Keegan Simmons became the first male swimmer from the Eastern Panhandle to win an individual state championship when he topped the two-day tournament in the 200 freestyle. While Simmons graduated, Gee and Carson returned for another year after placing in 2013 at the state meet in two events, though only Carson will try again in one of those same categories.
Gee, who placed sixth a year ago in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 100 backstroke, is scheduled to contest the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly this week in Morgantown. His seed time of 22.87 seconds in the 50 freestyle ranks fourth of 24 entered participants, according to an unofficial heat sheet posted at the website swimwv.com. Gee’s seed time of 55.43 seconds in the 100 butterfly ranks second of 24.
Meanwhile, Carson’s seed time of 1:05.33 in the 100 breaststroke ranks second of 24 entered participants. Carson placed seventh in the event last year with a time of 1:07.13. His seed time of 2:12.68 in the 200 individual medley ranks sixth of 24.
“I think Carson and Gee might be a two-man wrecking machine for Washington at the state,” said Jefferson coach Glenn Edwards. “They could get enough points to get (Washington) 10, 11, or 12 as a team. In a big meet, a couple of athletes can get you a lot of points.
“The rest of our swimmers from this region are going to have to work really hard,” Edwards added. “You’ve got to be extremely fast when you get to that level of competition.”
Between the boys and girls programs, Jefferson will be sending 13 swimmers to the state meet, including qualified entrees in all six team relays.
Washington will be sending 10 swimmers to Morgantown, including relay entrees in both the boys and girls 200 medley and 400 freestyles.
“We’ve only got a couple days in the pool,” said Washington coach Brian Bauer. “Then we’ll hit the road on Wednesday out to Morgantown. But we’re going to get both the boys and girls in the water and just focus on those swimmers who made states today and really work those relays since we have several boys and girls relays qualify.”
Jefferson boys participants include: junior Bryan Wiercioch (10th seed, 200 freestyle; 18th, 500 freestyle); senior Bailey Pitcher (12th, 100 butterfly; 13th, 100 backstroke); senior Wes Goodell (12th, 100 backstroke); senior David Orr (24th, 200 IM); and freshman Nicholas Mazaleski (18th, 100 freestyle). Senior Justin Sharp and freshman Kyle Stuart are entered as part of relays.
Jefferson girls participants include: sophomore Mia Holland (14th, 200 free; 20th, 100 free); freshman Kaitlyn Orr (24th, 50 free); freshman Kaelyn Gardner (11th, 500 free; 7th, 100 backstroke); sophomore Destiny Hoffman (17th, 100 breaststroke); senior Kaley Hoffman (13th, 100 butterfly) and senior Emma Alquist (23rd, 100 backstroke).
“We qualified a few more individual swimmers than we normally do,” Edwards said. “And we qualified all six relays. If you’re going to have a chance of placing in the top-half of the state meet, you’ve got to have some relays.
“I think our swimmers will do a good job of representing the region at the state meet,” Edwards added.
Washington boys participants include: senior Shawn Gee (4th, 50 free; 2nd, 100 butterfly); senior Derek Carson (2nd, 100 breaststroke; 6th, 200 IM); freshman Daniel Carson (20th, 200 free; 22nd, 500 free); senior Ian Macleod (relays); and sophomore Jacob Mood (relays).
Washington girls participants include: freshman Cameron Payne (9th, 100 backstroke); sophomore Mikaela Payne (13th, 500 free; 17th, 200 free); sophomore Jill Goben (19th, 200 IM); senior Michaela Browning (relays); and junior Celina Miedtank (relays).
“The girls are super excited to be the first two relays from Washington to ever qualify for states for the girls team,” Bauer said. “I think they’ll be placed decently at states in terms of coming into the meet. Hopefully, they will have some good swims at the state meet, especially in the individual events.
“Cameron and Mikaela dropped time (at regionals),” Bauer added. “Hopefully they’ll drop more at the state meet. Mikaela Payne especially always performs her best at the state meet. We’re looking to them to carry the girls team through.”