Piranhas ready to chomp up state championships

Published 3:19 pm Monday, February 22, 2010

The Piranhas swim team will travel to Laurel on February 19, 20, and 21 to compete in the Short Course Championship Swim Meet. This year, 42 kids will be competing compared to 31 in 2009 where they placed eighth overall as a team.

The meet is set to run in the Championship format — the kids had to make qualifying times in order to be able to enter the meet. The swimmers will compete in preliminaries in the morning in hopes to qualify for the top 16 in the finals that night.

Last year, the Piranhas qualified to swim in 102 events at state. This year they have qualified in 164 events.  “I am looking forward to see how well these kids do. I know they have trained for it,” said Coach Ray. “Now we just have to see who can set their nerves aside and race. I am excited.”

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Last year was somewhat of a rebuilding year with the exceptions of veterans like Blake Rutherford, Emily Spieghts, Makenzie Griffing and a few others. This year they look forward to the younger Piranhas stepping up and helping out like, Jaycee Morrison, Alex Moon, Emily Arthur, Connor Ruffin, Delora Denney, Kamryn Clymer, and Abby Tate.

“This meet is a little bitter sweet for me because it is the last Short Course meet for Blake Rutherford who has been with me for 11 years. He is the most decorated Piranha with 10 past individual State Champions, three Zone teams, and three age group sectional teams. He will be missed when he is gone. But there is a great, maybe even more talented group, falling right in his shoes,” said Coach Ray. “It is going to be fun to watch.”

The Piranhas are going into the meet seeded seventh place as a team but have been challenged to get to fifth place. When they move up to the top five as a team, they will win a Mississippi State Championship Banner.

There will be a total of 15 teams competing compiling of approximately 500 kids from all over the state at the meet and the Piranhas are one of the smallest teams in the state to compete.

“I want to see us do well. We don’t have to win a banner, but it would be nice. I just want the kids to swim their best times, have fun, and see how many team records we can break. I am going to rely a lot on my senior kids to rally the troops and keep everyone pumped up to finish strong,” said Coach Ray.