It wasn’t necessarily about having the best time of their lives for the young swimmers from Amarillo at Friday’s District 3-5A meet at the Amarillo Town Club.
For Amarillo High in particular, it was about making sure better times in the water were down the road.
AHS swept the boys and girls team titles with little problem, finishing well ahead of second place Tascosa in both instances. While not all the times were among the personal bests, that wasn’t the goal for the district meet with the Region I-5A meet in Lubbock still to come.
“We swam this meet tired so I was really happy with how we did,” AHS coach Ron Lee said. “We ultimately won 18 of the 22 events so I was very pleased with how we swam tired. The times were right on with what we needed to have them in preparation for regionals.”
With returning experience from last year, Amarillo High’s boys came into the meet more than familiar with the routine. AHS won all 11 individual meets, including all three relays, good for 256 points with Tascosa finishing a distant second with 20 points.
The least surprising element of the meet was the performance of Amarillo High sophomore Alec Purdy, who is coming off a freshman year in which he qualified for two events at the state meet. Purdy didn’t have his best times at district but was nonetheless dominant.
He seemed to be coasting in the 100-yard butterfly, in which he won his first individual gold medal of the day with a time of 56.56 seconds, over 5 and a half seconds off his seed time. Purdy had to fight harder to win the 100 backstroke, which he won in 59.24, less than a second ahead of AHS teammate Lance Dykhouse in the lane next to him.
“I’m pretty satisfied with how I did today because it just sets me up for regionals,” Purdy said. “All I wanted to do was just take it as a practice, get warm and use my muscles well. It was a good day to get back into motion. I didn’t care that much about my times today.”
Purdy entered the 100 fly with over seconds of a seed time advantage, and looked as if he was just warming up before kicking it in over the last 25 yards to beat teammate Wyatt Wilburn by over three seconds. The 100 back was another story, as Purdy and Dykhouse were neck and neck for most of the race before Purdy took a narrow lead over the last 25 and held on for the win.
That was closer to what Purdy can expect at regionals if he wants to get back to state.
“With both of those races I try not to use too much energy because it’s only district,” Purdy said. “In the first race I intentionally went slower on the first 50. On my 100 back, I told Lance he should just pace off me and just see who got first.”
Dykhouse, a junior who also went to state last year, just missed his second win of the day, as he won the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.17, winning by more than a second. Even though Purdy got two wins, Dykhouse was named the boys athlete of the meet, as he and Purdy were also part of two winning relays.
The other Amarillo High swimmer to win two events was senior Andres Cebrero, who won the 200 free (2:00.08) and 100 free (53.84).
While Amarillo High won the girls team title with 212 points, 81 points ahead of Tascosa, the best individual day belonged to Tascosa sophomore Maggie Marhefka, who was the lone girls swimmer to win two events. Marhefka won the 200 free (2:13.24) and 100 fly (1:07.51) and was named the girls athlete of the meet.
“I thought I (could win top girls’ swimmer) because I did it last year, but this year I was a little more nervous.” Marhefka said. “I did break my leg and had surgery on it so I was out for a little bit. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I got pretty close to what I wanted to, but they weren’t PRs (personal best times).”