Shane Williams ‘19 collected valuable second and third-place individual finishes and anchored two dramatic relay victories including the title-clinching final event as Eagle Swimming seized the TAPPS Division I state swimming championship – the program’s first-ever state crown in the second season with head coach Donna Skorupinski.
St. Thomas set the tone for history early as Williams (school record 21.98) tag-teamed with Gabriel Lenz ‘19 (22.39) for a 2-4 result in the 50 yard freestyle and later paired with Sebastian Ortiz ‘20 (51.02) for 3-6 in 100 free.
In the first of two tight-tick relay wins, Williams contributed the anchor kick in the 200 free with Ortiz, Dylan Michaels ‘21 and Lenz (school record 1:29.31) to out-touch perennial powerhouse El Paso Cathedral at the wall by the slimmest of sub-second margins.
The championship deciding stage was then set for Williams who responded with the most clutch swim of his celebrated Eagle career. He stood on the starting block and experienced a percussive adrenaline surge, his mind absolutely hell-bent on the winner take all result.
Williams again followed Ortiz, Michaels and Lenz into the water and applied a Phelpsian will to claim the 400 free by less than two seconds in an Eagle record 3:17.07. He edged out a Cathedral competitor who had previously defeated him in an individual race.
For the victory.
And the team title.
“I had worked my swimming life for that moment,” Williams said in closing out his eighth straight winning relay without a miss. “I wasn’t the least bit nervous or anxious … just another race … instincts took over … and I was taking that leg and we were taking the championship.
“When I touched the wall and saw the number one next to St. Thomas, I started crying. It felt like a Disney movie. Whatever I could have imagined would not have been better than real life.”
Fueled by the scorching relay results the Eagles racked 291 points and denied Cathedral (283) the state crown for the first time since 1990. St. Thomas also outpaced Plano St. John XXIII (203), Awty International (181), The Village School (174), San Antonio Antonian College Preparatory (145) and Dallas Bishop Lynch Dallas Bishop Lynch (138).
The versatile Eagles leveraged superior depth throughout the competition at the Mansfield ISD Natatorium.
Hunter Nguyen ‘12 teamed with Josh McLean ‘22, Patrick Pham ‘21 and Carrick Brogan ‘22 to take fourth in the 200 medley relay.
Michaels swam fourth in the 500 yard free (5:06.24) and sixth (1:50.80) behind Ortiz’s third (1:50.08) in the 200 free. Lenz packed more points with a fifth in the 100 butterfly ( 54.96).
Other notable results include …
- McLean 11th (2:12.78) in the 200 individual medley
- Nguyen 10th (23.91) and Brogan 13th (24.29) in the 50 freestyle
- Nguyen 8th (1:05.57), Griffin Gregory 9th (1:05.86) and McLean 14th (1:08.15) in the 100 breaststroke
- Patrick 13 Greaney ‘21 13th (59.58) and Pham 14th (1:00.70) in the 100 butterfly
- Pham 14th (1:03.20) in the 100 backstroke
- Ethan Armenta ‘20 11th (5:31.56), Isaac Wolf ‘20 14th (5:42.54) and Aiden Brelinsky ‘20 15th (5:53.28) in the 500 freestyle
The 102nd state championship in the rich history of Eagle Athletics comes as Eagle Swimming continues its recent surge of success. In 2018 St. Thomas posted a convincing second-place finish at TAPPS State matching the program’s previous best-ever showing.
Eagle Fight Never Dies!