Robert E. Lee swimming boasts three collegiate signees and many more seniors with regional experience.
But those are not who coach Matt Franks is thinking about as the team competes in today’s District 11-5A meet.
“We know the seniors are pretty well established,” Franks said. “They will be first or second in their events pretty consistently. I think the next part you have to look at are the (underclassmen).
“You always have higher expectations, but knowing that 85 percent of our team are freshmen and sophomores; they are getting faster from week to week, making better decisions during races and we are a much stronger group now than we were at the start of the year.”
The action is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Rockwall ISD Natatorium.
The Lee boys are aiming for a seventh-straight district title. The team is led by Sam Lewis (University of Texas) and Michael Quam (Incarnate Word), who both competed in the Speedo Junior National Championships this past summer.
Lewis enters today’s meet as the top seed in 200-yard freestyle (1:40.04) and 500-yard freestyle (4:25.45) as well as being a part of REL’s top-seeded 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
Quam is also on those two relay teams as well as being seeded first in the 100-yard freestyle (47.20) and 100-yard breaststroke (59.94). Senior Stephan Umierski is also a top seed in his individual event, 50-yard freestyle, as well as being part of REL’s freestyle relay teams.
“I think the next part you have to look at are the sophomore boys because they are really the future of the guys team,” Franks said. “They are a deep group and have really had the opportunity to shine. Guys like Jack Oliver, Tanner Anderson and Seth Oldham will play a big role in whether Lee can challenge for a regional championship.”
Oliver, in particular, enters as top seed in the boys 200-yard individual medley as well as being the fourth member of Lee’s freestyle relay teams with the seniors.
The Lee girls are aiming for a sixth-straight district championship and are led by senior Meredith Oliver (Texas A&M), who qualified for the Olympic Trials in two events this summer. She enters as the top seed in 200-yard freestyle (1:48.80) and 100-yard freestyle (50.51) as well as swimming on REL’s top-seeded freestyle relay teams.
Seniors Lexi LaMott and Samantha Michaelsen are seeded first in their respective events as well while the three make up three of the four legs on Lee’s freestyle relay team, along with freshman Lauren Lewis.
Franks said Lewis and sophomore Emily Stanford make the group of underclassmen ones to watch.
“The sophomore girls have gone from being very inexperienced last year to now a very important role,” Franks said. “We’ve taken our lumps during the dual-meet season, but it was all in preparation for (now).
“Emily Stanford is really leading the girls out in the sophomore class and she’s been joined by a freshman, Laura Lewis, who has really come up, and in a rebuilding year made people take notice.”
The top three finishers and teams advance to the Class 5A Region III meet scheduled for Feb. 10-11 at Mansfield ISD Natatorium.