By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
EDMOND – One point made all the difference Saturday at the Class 5A swimming state championships.
Carl Albert’s boys claimed the state runner-up trophy after finishing just a point behind Bishop Kelley in the 5A race.
Coach Josh Norman said the boys poured their hearts out all season. The team overcame challenges in finding pool time all year and nearly won their first state title.
“I can’t be disappointed. It hurts. Defeat hurts when you’ve poured in and relied on soul power more than weight room power or pool power,” Norman said. “We’re going to make it. We’re going to graduate some incredible talent on the college rosters this year. And we’re going to be okay.”
The Titans had a nine-point advantage heading into the final event – the 400-yard freestyle relay. Bishop Kelley, which was seeded second, upset Shawnee to win the event, while Carl Albert placed fourth. That gave the Comets just enough clearance as they edged Carl Albert 300-299 for the title.
Senior Kaleb Vaughn showed out in his final high school meet, winning two events and finishing second in two others. Vaughn won the 100 butterfly in 51.98 seconds and took second in the 100 backstroke (55.94). He also helped the Titans win the 200 freestyle relay and swim second in the 200 medley relay.
Vaughn dedicated his performance to his grandmother who passed shortly before his senior year. After accepting a gold medal for the 100 butterfly, Vaughn smiled and held a photo of him and his grandmother.
“She was my biggest supporter, and it meant a lot to have her with me on the podium,” Vaughn said. “She cheered for me every meet no matter how I did.”
Carl Albert got off to a hot start as they placed second in the 200 medley and later won the 200 freestyle relay.
Brian Lam, Jackson Bales, Vaughn and Eli Steele took gold in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:33.27. The 200 medley relay team of Dylan Garcia, Lam, Vaughn and Bales nearly won as they finished in 1:42.17 – just .09 of a second behind Bishop Kelley.
Garcia, Owen Ramirez, Shane McClung and Eli Steele took fourth in the 400 freestyle relay.
Steele, Garcia and Lam each won a pair of individual medals. Garcia finished fifth in the 100 backstroke (59.86) and eighth in the 200 freestyle (1:57.90). Steele shined with a sixth-place finish in the 100 freestyle (51.96) and was eighth in the 50 freestyle. And Lam came in sixth in the 100 breaststroke and eighth in the 200 individual medley.
Corey Mason was next with a sixth-place medal in the 100 backstroke, while Evans (100 breaststroke) placed eighth.
The Titans earned points in the B finals from Ben Sutterfield, Bales, McClung, Maddox Bartlett, Everett Ryan, Braxton Dozier, Ridge Thornton, Wilcox, Michael Gilliam, Jackson Lorenz.
The top eight placers in Friday’s preliminaries qualified for the finals on Saturday. The next eight placers qualified for the B finals.
Norman said they had hoped for a better overall showing in the individual events.
“We didn’t quite perform in the individual events like we needed to,” he said. “But we took half of the season out of the water, we swam half as much as everybody in this building and we came away with a runner-up and that wasn’t close to anyone.”
The Titans’ runner-up finish was their best showing since taking second in 2021.