Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulldogs Point toward the Future after Low Finish in State Tourney

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulldogs Point toward the Future after Low Finish in State Tourney

Article excerpt

The Fort Zumwalt South High swimming team is in no position to contend for the state title. Yet.

"We're not there, but hopefully, one of these days we'll be able to contend with the Lafayettes and the Parkways," South coach Mike O'Brien said. "With the programs at the Rec-Plex going strong, we're going to see more swimmers with more experience coming into our program during the the next few years. And as that happens, we're going to be able to close the gap between us and the state's top-level programs."

The Bulldogs finished 29th at the state swimming and diving championships Friday and Saturday at the Columbia Hickman High Pool. South had just six team points.

"We finished about where I expected us to finish," O'Brien said. "I thought we could've done a little better in the preliminaries Friday, but I'm not disappointed. The competition at state was extremely tough; there were state records being set in nearly every event.

"It was one of the most competitive meets I've ever seen."

Lafayette successfully defended its title, finishing with 229 points, outlasting Parkway Central (189.83) and Parkway West (156).

"Lafayette only had about 10 kids qualify, but the guys who made it for them are some of the best swimmers in the state," O'Brien said. "But that's what state swimming is all about. You look for your top guys to score big in their events and hope that the other teams' top guys don't outscore your top guys."

South, which advanced three relay teams and individuals in five events, had just one swimmer reach Saturday's finals. Junior Steve Mansker was ninth in the 100-yard backstroke and 11th in the 100-yard butterfly.

Mansker had earned all-state honors in each of the previous two seasons, with back-to-back sixth-place finishes in the backstroke. But this year, the competition was especially strong in that event.

"In the prelims, Steve had a time of 54.9 seconds - by far the best time he's ever had - but it was only the seventh-best qualifying time, so he missed on the finals," O'Brien said. "I know Steve was disappointed, but I don't know what else he could've done. In certain events this year, the competition was incredibly tough. And the backstroke was one of those events."

O'Brien continued: "We were really pleased with Steve's performance in the butterfly. I think making the top 12 there gave him some added confidence heading into the backstroke."

Because of his top-12 finishes, Mansker was honorable mention all-state in both the backstroke and butterfly.

South also qualified teams in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. …

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