Aquadawgs qualify for Regionals in 12 events with strong showing at 10-6A Swim meet

By TJ Maxwell
Cove Leader-Press

BELTON - Copperas Cove seniors Jacob Guerrero and Carson McVeigh showed their mettle Saturday as they led the AquaDawgs to three district championships, a silver medal and a bronze medal at Saturday’s District 10-6A swim meet finals at the Roy and Jen Potts Swim Center in Belton.
Guerrero shattered the school record in the 200-yard freestyle by nearly two seconds with a time of 1 minute, 47.15 seconds that earned him his first of three district championships.
He also just edged his teammate Carson for gold in the 50-yard freestyle (22.82) and anchored the 200-yard freestyle relay team to a third gold medal and district title with a time of 1:35.41.
“It feels pretty great,” said Guerrero. “I’ve been working all year to beat the 200-free record. It was at 1:49 and I went 1:47. I surprised myself with that time but I’ve been pushing the team to be better and I’m thankful to my parents for pushing me to come to practice every day because hard work pays off.”
McVeigh brought home some hardware of his own including the silver in the 50-free behind Guerrero with a time of 23.02 seconds and claimed the district title in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 49.95.
“I’m excited,” said McVeigh. “The competition was very stiff and there were some really good swimmers here. I’m beyond ecstatic, especially it being my senior year and winning first in the district in something is huge for me.”
McVeigh also led off the gold-winning 200-yard free relay with senior De’Vaunte Jackson swimming the second leg and sophomore Ryan Lippert swimming the third.
McVeigh, Lippert and Guerrero also earned a bronze medal and a regional bid in the 400-yard freestyle relay, along with senior Hunter Martinez, with a time of 3:32.27.
The foursome of Lippert, Martinez, Jackson and junior Abdiel Hernandez-Lopez also qualified for regionals with a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:56.39. 
McVeigh is proud of his teams’ competitiveness despite not having their own swim facility.
“It’s huge for us,” he said. “We don’t have our own facility but we still come out here and put on a good show and still come out on top.”
Guerrero’s also proud of the competition inside the program, especially between himself and McVeigh.
“It’s very competitive and I love the competition it brings,” he said. “There’s a lot in the sport of swimming and I just love it.”
Lippert and Martinez also qualified for regionals in individual events. Lippert finished fifth in the 10-yard backstroke with a time of 1:02.95 to punch his ticket. Martinez finished sixth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:21.71 to earn his spot. 
Hernandez-Lopez just missed a spot in the 100-yard butterfly. He finished with a time of 1:04.65.
The boys finished the day with 83 points to finish third overall behind district champions Midway (160) and host Belton (114). 
“The boys’ team has been doing well but they really excelled today,” said Copperas Cove head swim coach Trish Stoddard. “Carson and Jake are co-captains and they are excellent role models. They push each other. Jake pushes Carson and Carson pushes Jake. They not only push each other but the other boys are trying to keep up, too. The whole team has gotten faster because the competition is there.
“Ryan is stepping up. Last year, he was a freshman and he wasn’t competitive but this year, he qualified in the backstroke and all three relays. He’s moving up and I have a couple other boys that are moving up as well.”
The girls’ team also had a much-improved showing from last year, qualifying for regionals in all three relays and senior captain Grace Wolford also earned a regional bid with a sixth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 6:48.69.
Wolford, along with junior Dacie Judd, senior Shelby Birdwell and freshman Paola Rosario-Diaz just missed out on the podium with a fourth-place finish and time of 4:39.25 in the 400-yard freestyle relay. 
The foursome also finished fifth in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 2:02.52 and sixth in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2:27.93.
The girls finished sixth as a team with 27 points. Belton dominated their way to first with 204 points followed by Midway (147) and Ellison (58).
Stoddard was really impressed with the improvement from the girls.
“I think they exceeded expectations,” she said. “I’m really proud of my girls’ team. All three relays qualified and they’ve struggled in the past. Girls’ team captain Grace Wolford also qualified in the 500 free so I’m very proud of the girls.”
Stoddard knows the competition will be stiff at the regional level but she also knows it’s really just about competing with yourself.
“I just want them to do the best they can,” she said. “They are going to compete against their times and swim their fastest. Hopefully, they can set some school records.”
McVeigh hopes his team just represents Cove well when they compete at the next level.
“I want to see improvement from our team as a whole,” he said. “For any meet that’s really all you can ask for. Really, I just want to see some more personal best times.”
Guerrero wants his team to improve as well but he also has bid expectations.
“A successful trip for me would be to make it to the A-finals so I can go out there and try to win a trip to state.”
For all the seniors representing the AquaDawgs for possibly the last time just hope they leave a lasting legacy on the underclassmen.
“At this point, I want them to see where we are at as a program,” said McVeigh. “Jake and I are passing the torch on to them and I want them to see where we’re at and go for it. I want them to break our records, keep getting better and bring home more =medals for Copperas Cove.”
Guerrero agreed.
“I hope to leave a legacy behind for the freshmen, sophomores and juniors. I want to show them what it feels like to work hard and to have a good work ethic. I hope they’ve learned everything I taught them over the past two years and it will pay off for them.”
The Region III-6A meet will be held Feb 2-3 at the Rockwall ISD Aquatic Center in Rockwall.

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