AUSTIN — District champions? Nope. Regional champions? Not this year. But state champions? Oh yeah, that will do just fine for the Montgomery Lady Bears.

Montgomery captured its first-ever state title at the UIL swimming and diving championships on Saturday evening at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center, putting the finishing touches on what has been a triumphant return to Class 5A.

The Lady Bears finished with a final score of 186, beating out Magnolia (159), Friendswood (150), Austin Johnson (149) and Frisco Reedy (131).

“We knew this time last year, moving down to 5A, that we would be in the mix,” Montgomery coach Dale Villemez said. “But all year, they were just focused on their races, and I’m really proud with how the executed. … They’re amazing, and I’ve never had a group like this. They’re like extra daughters to me, so it’s just really gratifying to watch them come out here and perform like I knew they could do.”

Montgomery began the day with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay, earning the gold with a time of 1 minute, 47.39 seconds. That team was comprised of Valerie Brilanti, Kaitlynn Sims, Kelli Curington and JoJo Daspit.

Sims captured the Lady Bears’ first individual medal, taking silver in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 47.10 seconds. She was outpaced only by Ana Herceg of Pflugerville Weiss, who set a new Class 5A record at 1:46.39.

“The relay was super fun,” Sims said. “It was my last [200] medley relay because I’m a senior, and the [200] free I think could have been better, but I was faster than I’ve ever been before, so I think it was good leading into my 500.”

Daspit narrowly missed the podium in the 50-yard freestyle, taking fourth place with a mark of 23.48 seconds. She found redemption in the 100-yard freestyle, however, earning the gold medal with a time of 50.41 seconds.

“It was really scary because I went out really slow,” Daspit said. “I was not expecting everyone to go out that fast, but I’ve never been the kind of swimmer to go out fast in the 100 anyways -- I really like to bring it home. But I definitely knew the last five yards that I was going to win. It was a crazy feeling, I was so overwhelmed, and I just knew that every moment would build up to the very end.”

Sims was dominant, as usual, in her signature 500-yard freestyle event. This time around she set a new state record with a swim of 4 minutes, 39.73 seconds to earn her third consecutive gold medal. The first two came in Class 6A.

“It means a lot,” said Sims, whose time would have placed fifth in the boys championship heat. “I’ve dropped [time] in this event this year, and I really wanted to get that state record. It’s a big deal for me, and I’m really happy with that win.”

Montgomery finished the meet in exciting fashion with a gold medal in the 400-yard freestyle relay. That team included Curington, Kaitlyn Weightman, Sims and Daspit, who touched the wall at 3 minutes, 29.57 seconds.

Magnolia girls finish as runners-up

Two years removed from their first-ever state title, the Magnolia girls were back in the mix on Saturday under second-year head coach Jared Kaminski.

“They just banded together and swam for each other,” said Kaminski, whose team finished 11th at state last season. “When you get everybody pulling together, working in the same direction, teamwork does a lot. … We’re so young, and getting them here this year is just a huge plus for next year. Next year is exciting, but that doesn’t mean anything. You still have to get in the pool and work hard, train hard and stay healthy.”

Magnolia took fourth place in the 200-yard medley relay to start the meet, narrowly missing the podium with a time of 1 minute, 49.39 seconds. That squad included Olivia Gonder, Presley Heitzmann, Kailey Turner and Noelle Marsh.

The Lady Bulldogs notched another fourth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay as the team of Marsh, Madi Kohlmeyer, Turner and Kiley Moriarty touched at 1:39.41.

Gonder won the only individual medal for her team, capturing gold in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, 5.01 seconds. It was her first podium finish in the event after taking fifth and seventh the past two years, respectively.

“I’m just so thrilled to be up there,” Gonder said, who also took fifth place in the 200-yard IM at 2:07.81 “It was a really good race, and I was really happy with how it went.”

Williams, Rodgers make history

Lake Creek junior Mason Williams became the first-ever state champion in the history of Lake Creek High School on Saturday, winning the boys 1-meter diving event.

Williams finished with a score of 480.75 and rose to the podium after taking fifth place in Class 6A last year for Montgomery.

“It’s awesome,” Williams said. “I love that it’s our first year and that I got to go represent my school and that people know who Lake Creek is now. … It was stressful toward the end because second place was gaining on me, but it was a lot of fun.”

Freshman diver Ryleigh Rodgers made Grand Oaks history, becoming the first-ever state medalist for the Grizzlies. She earned silver, finishing with a score of 422.75.

“I just knew I had to stay in the game and finish strong,” Rodgers said. “It feels good. I’m just proud to represent my school in the way that I could.”

Flores finishes strong

Magnolia West senior Alex Flores capped his high school career by competing in the championship finals of two races. Flores started the meet with a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, touching the wall at 1 minute, 40.03 seconds. He later took fifth place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.37 seconds.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY RESULTS

GIRLS 200 MEDLEY RELAY

1. Montgomery (Brilanti, Sims, Curington, Daspit) - 1:47.39.

4. Magnolia (Gonder, Heitzmann, Turner, Marsh) - 1:49.39

GIRLS 200 FREESTYLE

2. Kaitlynn Sims, Montgomery - 1:47.10

BOYS 200 FREESTYLE

4. Alex Flores, Magnolia West - 1:40.03

GIRLS 200 IM

5. Olivia Gonder, Magnolia - 2:07.81

GIRLS 50 FREESTYLE

4. JoJo Daspit, Montgomery - 23.48

8. Noelle Marsh, Magnolia - 23.97

GIRLS 1-METER DIVING

2. Ryleigh Rodgers, Grand Oaks - 422.75

GIRLS 100 FREESTYLE

1. JoJo Daspit, Montgomery - 50.41

2. Noelle Marsh, Magnolia - 51.92

BOYS 100 FREESTYLE

5. Alex Flores, Magnolia West - 46.37

GIRLS 500 FREESTYLE

1. Kaitlynn Sims, Montgomery - 4:39.73

BOYS 500 FREESTYLE

8. Gustavo Ott, Magnolia - 4:45.43

GIRLS 200 FREESTYLE RELAY

4. Magnolia (Marsh, Kohlmeyer, Turner, Moriarty) - 1:39.41

7. Montgomery (Curington, Nelson, Wilson, Weightman) - 1:40.01

GIRLS 100 BREASTSTROKE

3. Olivia Gonder, Magnolia - 1:05.01

7. Presley Heitzmann, Magnolia - 1:07.50

GIRLS 400 FREESTYLE RELAY

1. Montgomery (Curington, Weightman, Sims, Daspit) - 3:29.57

8. Magnolia (Gonder, Moriarty, Turner, Kohlmeyer) - 3:35.40

jpoorman@hcnonline.com

Original Article from: https://www.yourconroenews.com/neighborhood/moco/sports/article/SWIMMING-Montgomery-Lady-Bears-win-first-ever-13622830.php