All underclassmen, the Angleton Wildcats head to the Class 5A UIL Swimming & Diving Meet with room for growth and a lot of confidence.
Angleton advanced five swimmers to state in seven events, with the preliminaries today at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at the University of Texas.
Of the 16 finalists in each event, the top eight times from the preliminary round will advance to the finals, with the next eight to consolations. Today’s preliminaries start at 10 a.m. and finals begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Making state for the second consecutive season are junior captain Fynn Andrews along with sophomores, Abel Black, Aaron Black and Ryan Fojtik. Junior Cameron Derleth is making his first appearance at the state meet.
One of the better races for the Wildcats during this season has been the 200 medley relay with the foursome of Abel Black, Fojtik, Derleth and Aaron Black. This relay goes in seeded second overall with a time of 1 minute, 35.92 seconds, trailing only Alamo Heights,’ time of 1:32.71.
“Alamo Heights beat us at region, and all we can do is try to sneak up to them and pass them,” Aaron Black said. “Three of our four legs are neck and neck, but their butterfly is better than ours. But I know Cameron (Derleth) can swim much faster, so if we can just drop more time, we could actually catch them.”
Abel Black will start the race with the backstroke, followed by Fojtik’s breaststroke, Derleth’s butterfly and Aaron Black’s freestyle.
“It’s important for me to do good in this race because I start it, so it sets the tone for us,” Abel Black said. “I need to get us a good lead right away.”
Derleth has been working hard all season to make up some time.
“Those other three guys are fast and it sets some high standards to live up to,” Derleth said. “At times it can be hard on me as well. I am getting faster, but they are getting faster much quicker than I am sometimes — even faster. But it gives me a drive to have someone in front of me to go after. I think that’s been big for my improvement.”
Going up against a couple of seniors and a junior will be Aaron Black and Andrews in the 200 free. Tho top three seeds are a junior from Georgetown High School, 1:40.03; senior from Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1:40.32; and another senior from Aledo, 1:40.54. Aaron sits fourth overall at 1:43.14 with Andrews in 10th position, 1:45.20.
Though seeded a bit low, Andrews goes in with a lot of optimism.
“Over the past year, I’ve done a lot of distance work like lengthening my stroke out, working on little technique details and done a lot of aerobic training,” Andrews said. “Just a lot of hard work in the pool has just helped me get faster.”
Aaron Black is also seeded fifth in the 100 backstroke, 50.68, along with his brother, who is eighth going in, 51.63. Both were callups after the regional.
Last year, Abel Black went in seeded 16th in this same event but finished sixth in preliminaries and advanced to the championships.
“Nerves actually helped that race last year, but I have more competition, including Aaron in there this year,” Abel Black said. “He is my brother, but of course I want to beat him and he is seeded ahead of me. Backstroke is my stroke, so I need to take that away from him.”
Aaron Black also worked hard since last year, and his biggest improvement came in the backstroke.
“I definitely improved my underwaters with the backstroke because part of that swim is underwater and because of the dolphin kicking that I do during that race; that is the part that I’ve improved the most,” Aaron said. “That is what wins the race because three-fourths of the race is dolphin kicking.”
The 400 freestyle relay with Abel Black, Andrews, Fojtik and Aaron Black, 3:13.55, goes into the preliminaries seeded sixth. Kingwood Park is seeded first overall in the race, 3:08.66.
“We’ve managed to take off some time in the past few months; last year we were at 3:17, but this year we are down to 3:13,” Andrews said. “We are looking to bring that down farther in the next two days.”
Fojtik enters the 500 freestyle race seeded eighth overall, 4:48.30.
“I’ve felt stronger this year, and that has made a big difference for me,” Fojtik said. “I did several things differently in my training, including just eating better. I’d like to drop four seconds if possible; that would be awesome and I could maybe make it to finals.”
Seeded ninth in the 200 IM is Abel Black, who wants to trim some time off his 1:57.13.
“I’ve grown into the 200 IM because I’ve grown in the freestyle more,” Abel said. “I’ve gotten stronger and taller, and I just feel like I am in a better position going into it. I do feel more confident in the freestyle this year than last year.”
The eighth spot is within reach for Abel to get into the championship round as he is just four-thousandths of a second behind that seed.