The Mena Barracuda swim team capped off their summer season with a very successful effort at the Southern Arkansas Swim Championships. It was just a small team judged by numbers, but their talent towered above the competition in the small team division. With only 17 swimmers in the summer only division and one in the Year Round, the Barracudsa harvested 19 individual medals (5 gold, 6 silver, and 5 bronze), while all six relay teams earned medals.
Leading the way for the Barracudas were “Top Point” winners Abigail Nance (31 points) and Ryan Jiang (29 points). It’s the first time two Mena swimmers earned “Top Point” trophies in the same year in a long time; at least twelve years. Nance topped the always deep 12 and Under girls division with gold medals in the 50 yard Backstroke and the 50 yard Breaststroke, a silver in the 100 yard Individual Medley, and bronze in the 50 yard butterfly. Jiang got his trophy by winning gold in the 25 yard Breaststroke, 25 yard Freestyle in 18.96 seconds, a bronze in the 25 Butterfly, and a 4th place finish in the 25 yard Backstroke.
Barracuda prowess did not stope with the top point earners. Lilly Garrett scored 25 individual points in the Senior Girls Summer Only Division, winning two silver medals, a bronze, and a fourth place in the process. Taylor Heifner scored 24 points in the Senior Girls Year Round class with a silver, two bronze, and a fourth placed effort. Cierra Metcalf scored 2 points with a 7th place finish in the 50 yard freestyle. Youngsters Allison Bates (backstroke) and Ranessa Ricker (freestyle), moved up to help Garrett (butterfly) and Metcalf (breaststroke) win the silver medal in the 200 Medley relay.
The senior boys relay teams made up of Brad Bates, Caleb Bowers, Ian Garrett, and Matthew Nance turned in what may be the fastest relays in team history. The medley relay was timed in 2:19.09, and the 200 freestyle team turned in a 1:58.84. This balanced quadrant also contributed heavily to the team point and medal totals. Brad and Ian each totaled 18 individual points, with Bates earning two bronze medals in the 100 butterfly and the 100 Breaststroke. Garrett scored his points by surrounding his 100 Breaststroke silver medal with two fourth place finishes in the 500 yard Freestyle and 50 yard Freestyle, plus an 8th placement in the 100 Freestyle. Matthew Nance (13 points) scored Mena’s first medal on Friday night, winning a silver in the 200 yard individual medley. He added points on Saturday with a 7th place finish in the Backstroke and 5th in the 100 yard Breaststroke. Caleb Bowers contributed to the tally with a 6th place in the 100 Backstroke and 7th in the 50 yard Freestyle.
Allison Bates was the sole Barracuda in the 14 and Under Division. She scored in each of her individual events. Bates scored 16 points while winning a silver medal in the 50 yard Butterfly, 5th in the Breaststroke, 6th in the Backstroke, and 7th in the 100 yard Freestyle.
Brendan Ricker won the gold medal in the 12 and Under Breaststroke and contributed points in the 100 IM and 50 yard Butterfly for a total of 14 points. He also led the 10 and Under Boys relay teams to a gold medal freestyle performance and a silver in the 100 Medley Relay.
Eight year old Auden Larson, 10 year old Brandon Dong, and 12 year old Jordan McBroom narrowly missed adding to the individual medal count. Auden scored 4th in the 25 yard freestyle, Brandon 4th in the 50 Breaststroke, and Jordan got 4th in the 12 and Under 50 yard Freestyle. Each added points in two more individual races in their respective age groups. Auden added an 8th place finish in the 25 yard Backstroke and 6th in the 25 yard Breaststroke. Brandon added two 6th place finishes in the 50 yard freestyle and the 100 yard IM. Jordan added 6th place finishes in the 50 yard Butterfly and the 100 yard IM.
Other swimmers contributing individual points was 12 year old Ranessa Ricker who placed 5th in the 50 yard Breaststroke and 6th in the 50 yard Freestyle. Seven year old Ayden Dong contributed a 7th place effort in the 25 yard Freestyle for two points, and 6 year old Larson Woods added a point by placing 8th in the 6 and Under 25 yard Freestyle.
Tabitha Levering figured prominently for Mena in the 14 and Under Girls Division throught the year, but was unable to compete in the month of July due to health concerns. She was sorely missed and we wish her the best in recovering for next year. Cierra Metcalf finished her career as a Barracuda and we wish her well in future endeavors.
The meet brought to a close a very busy and exciting summer for the Barracudas. This year saw the swimmers travel to three River Valley conference meets in Alma, Clarksville, and Paris, along with four SASA meets in Texarkana, DeQueen, Hope, and Magnolia. Brendan and Ranessa Ricker qualified in these events and will attend the Junior Olympics in Rochester, MI. Ryan Jiang and Ayden Dong qualified in Texarkana, but will not make the trip. Lilly Garrett and Taylor Heifner qualified by swimming below automatic qualifying, but neither will be making the trip.
If you are interested in learning the competitive swim strokes or developing a skill you can use the rest of your life, accept the challenge of competitive swimming. Watch for fliers in the schools for sign-ups next spring. You can also find us on Facebook at the Official Mena Swim Team Group. The Barracudas wish to thank the residents of Mena and Polk County for their support.