They didn’t officially win the meet, but head coach Brad Schmied said the Owensboro girls’ swim team owned the day Saturday in the Region 2 tournament. Over and over again, he stressed how dominant their performance was, and the results backed him up.
Five girls — Samantha Phillips, Julia Smith, Paige Neal, Abby Warren and Addison Callis —made the All-Region team, which consists of nine swimmers. Owensboro also had four individuals qualify across six events to go along with a clean sweep of first place in the three team relays.
“We completely dominated this meet,” said Schmied, who was named the region’s Outstanding Coach for a female team. “We had a plan today to try to win all three relays. We took six girls and tried to spread them out the best we could. We took on the four top swimmers of each team and we took them down. It was a great day today.”
They started off the meet with a come-from-behind win in the 200 Medley Relay (Smith, Callis, Phillips and Warren), setting a new region record at 1:49.83 in the process. Schmied said he was initially nervous after their qualifying time was a little low, but he trusted his team.
“I started breaking down the numbers and I knew what I did was going to work,” Schmied said. “I knew these girls and what they could do. They pulled it off huge. I did not expect a regional record in a medley relay that I thought was going to be our toughest test. To start off like that set the stage.”
Owensboro also won the 200 Freestyle Relay (Warren, Callis, Kara Bane Luckett and Neal) and closed out the day with a victory in the 400 Freestyle Relay (Neal, Phillips, Luckett and Smith).
Individuals automatically qualifying for state were Julia Smith (200 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle), Paige Neal (50 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle), Samantha Phillips (100 Butterfly, 500 Freestyle) and Addison Callis (100 Breastroke). Phillips set a new region record in the 500 Freestyle at 5:07.96.
Another local team with a successful day was Owensboro Catholic, who ended the meet with four top-two individual finishes. They boys’ 400 Freestyle Relay team (Jude Neal, Samuel Clements, Joseph Hayden and Cort Hobelmann) also pulled out a narrow win after trailing for most of the heat.
“We knew it was going to be close the entire time, and the boys knew as well,” said coach Erica Crabtree. “They had their own way of how they wanted to do it, and it worked out for them.”
Individually, Neal finished first in the 50 Freestyle and second in the 100 Freestyle. He and Hobelmann made the All-Region team.
Catholic’s Katie Hampel, who made the All-Region girls’ team, finished first in the 100 Backstroke and second in the 200 Individual Medley.
Owensboro and Catholic will likely have several other individuals advance to the state meet with at-large bids once all the region results are finalized. Daviess County and Apollo also have swimmers who should be in contention to advance.
With smaller rosters, both OHS and OCHS can’t match the overall scoring of some of the bigger teams, but they still finished near the top of the field with swimmers placing in the top four in most events.
The Owensboro girls finished third and the boys took fifth, and they finished fourth in combined scoring. The Catholic girls took seventh in and the boys third to finish fifth overall.
Daviess County’s girls earned sixth place and the boys took 11th to finish seventh overall. Apollo’s girls placed 14th and the boys took sixth for a ninth-place combined result.
Bowling Green easily swept the top spot in terms of total points, but Schmied said the scores can be deceiving.
“We absolutely dominated that meet,” he said. “The score won’t reflect it because you score the top four. It’s a function of numbers and program strength. But when you look at the results, you’re going to see Owensboro at the top for the girls. We absolutely crushed it today.”
The Catholic team will try to make the most of their state appearance, as they lose nine swimmers to graduation this year. Crabtree said she saw enough improvement from the underclassmen that she’s confident going forward.
“We had a lot of great kids that really stepped up,” she said. “A second doesn’t seem like a lot, but in a close meet like this it really makes a difference. We have some young swimmers that are coming up in the ranks. Now that they’re starting to cut a lot of time, they have the itch to win. That’s what you need.”
For Owensboro, Schmied won’t lose a single swimmer. While he’s already making some long-term plans for this year, he’s excited about what may still be in store this season.
“It’s setting the stage for a top 3 finish, and that’s what we’re shooting for next year,” he said. “I’m really impressed and a little surprised by some of these times that we had in these relays, so I’m really looking forward to state to see where we actually finish this year. Top three is not out of the scope.”
The top two swimmers in each event from each of the nine regional qualifying meets advance to state. The next 22 fastest overall swimmers at the regionals also qualify as at-large selections.
The 2019 State Swimming & Diving Championships will be held Feb. 21-23 at the Ralph Wright Natatorium in Louisville.
Only local swimmers who finished in the top two of an event are listed. Full results of swimmers advancing with at-large bids will be updated later.
Girls 200 Medley Relay
1 – Owensboro, 1:49.83 (Julia Smith, Addison Callis, Samantha Phillips, Abby Warren)
Girls 200 Freestyle
1- Julia Smith, 1:56.61 (OHS)
Girls 200 Individual Medley
2 – Katie Hampel, 2:06.48 (OCHS)
Girls 200 Freestyle
1 – Paige Neal, 24.69 (OHS)
Boys 50 Freestyle
1 – Jude Neal, 22.34 (OCHS)
Girls 100 Butterfly
2 – Samantha Phillips, 57.92 (OHS)
Girls 100 Freestyle
1 – Julia Smith, 52.78 (OHS)
2 – Paige Neal, 53.54 (OHS)
Boys 100 Freestyle
2 – Jude Neal, 49.94 (OCHS)
Girls 500 Freestyle
1 – Samantha Phillips, 5:07.96 (OHS)
Girls 200 Freestyle Relay
1 – Owensboro, 1:40.56 (Abby Warren, Addison Callis, Kara Bane Luckett, Paige Neal)
Boys 200 Freestyle Relay
1 – Owensboro Catholic, 1:32.12 (Jude Neal, Samuel Clements, Joseph Hayden, Cort Hobelmann)
Girls 100 Backstroke
1 – Katie Hampel, 57.35 (OCHS)
Girls 100 Breaststroke
2 – Addison Callis, 1:08.44 (OHS)
Girls 400 Freestyle Relay
1 – Owensboro, 3:38.81 (Paige Neal, Samantha Phillips, Kara Bane Luckett, Julia Smith)