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Durant set to make run at state title

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000


DURANT -- Repeating a third-place team finish at the Class 3A state tournament might be complicated for Durant's girls swimming and diving team.

Talented freshmen have replaced the point-scoring graduates, but stiff opposition awaits the Cougars. Two-time state champion Carrie Ellis is back, hoping to bring home gold in the the 50 and 100 freestyle. Cougar coach Kathie Menendez said Ellis is stronger and faster than last year.

Katie Bowden, Chelsie Krieg and Jessica Jordan also are back and capable of scoring points.

Points are awarded to the top 16 in each event, and each one is important at a state meet.

Ellis, Bowden and Krieg could potentially score big, Menendez said. Bowden will swim the 200 and 500 freestyle while Krieg is a distance swimmer. Jordan is a diver and has been doing well.

The team also has talented newcomers in Alana Shawa, Brittney Fabry and Lindsey Overman.

"We have three freshmen who could very easily make it to the finals in an individual event or a relay," Menendez said.

Overman is a breaststroke and butterfly specialist. Her 1-minute, 10-second 100 breaststroke is only three seconds off from making her a serious state challenger while her 1:00 in the 100 butterfly is less than two seconds away from being a challenger for the final eight.

Fabry could place in the final 16 in the 100 backstroke while Shawa is versatile in all strokes.

All three will be valuable in the relays, which award double team points. The top three from the district meet plus 10 wild cards advance to the state meet.

"We still have a tough district ahead with 16 very good teams in it," Menendez said. "Because of the speed in our district, we expect to go deeper than the top three. Our relays are very competitive, especially the 200 medley. That is because our freshmen add so much with their versatility."

The Cougar boys, led by senior Richard McGrath, are undefeated. They have depth and enthusiasm but are minus the state champion contenders the girls team has.

"Our boys are just exciting to watch this season," Menendez said. "(McGrath) and Alex (Hammel) are the only club swimmers we have on the team.

"The others just came out to swim and are doing great. They may not be a challenge for the state team title like the girls, but they will win some races and do well at both districts and state."

McGrath, a senior captain, has qualified for the state meet the past two years. His best events are the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley. Emory Hendrix, also a senior and the other captain, is a breaststroke specialist, too.

Chris Mook-Sang and J.W. Collins, both seniors and returning state qualifiers, swim freestyle events.

Like his sister, sophomore David Ellis is a sprinter who could win a state title before graduating.

Seniors Justin Surrency and Jeff Hayes are divers with the potential to qualify for state. "Our boys have no superstars, but they have heart and never give up," Menendez said.

"They should do well in both districts and state."

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