By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
For Woodrow swimmers, the four months of sweat, tears and chlorine are finally being rewarded. The prize? A chance to prove they're among West Virginia’s best.
The Flying Eagles will send eight qualifiers and one alternate to this week’s state swim meet in Morgantown. Five of the eight qualified in individual events.
It’s been a long season for the team, who started the season in the middle of October. The swim team started with over twenty swimmers but as the season progressed, the team fell to just ten.
“Swimming is a grueling sport,” Woodrow coach Carolyn Turner said. “You have to train and you have to be competitive and be dedicated.”
The dedication is paying off for the young but experienced Beckley team, which is made up of five juniors, three sophomores and a freshman.
“We have no seniors on our team,” Turner said. “We have no senior leadership. Our captain, Lauren Shelton, is a junior and has done really well. She’ll get to practice before anyone else, get the lane lines in and have everyone in the water.”
Shelton, who will be seeded sixth in the 200 freestyle individual medley, 16th in the 100 backstroke and part of the 13th seeded 200 medley relay, said the teams showing in the regionals were good signs for the team.
“It’s cool that we all get to go,” Shelton said of states. “Nobody got left out. Everyone performed well at regionals. Even our alternate (Shannon Underwood) dropped 12 seconds off of her total.”
Shelton will be joined by Isabella Bailey, Haley Cales, and Alexis Simpson in the 200 medley relay.
“The season has been good. Everyone has done well,” Bailey said. “It’s my first year so it’s pretty exciting to make states as a freshman.”
Bailey is seeded 17th in the 200 individual medley and will swim breaststroke in the relay.
“We haven’t had a lot of meets, but it’s been fun. We’ve all gotten better as it’s been going on,” Simpson said. The two-time qualifier will be seeded sixth in the 200 individual medley, 12th in the 50 freestyle and will also swim butterfly in the 200 medley relay.
Haley Cales, also a 2nd year qualifier, will swim the freestyle leg of the 200 medley.
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The Flying Eagles have had to show a lot of toughness and determination in the boys division — there are only four boys on the team.
“They’re only allowed to swim in two relays and two individual sports, so having them all qualify is big,” Turner said.
The boys are led by 3-time state qualifier Miguel Carunungan, who will be swimming in the 200 individual medley, the 100 freestyle and will swim the anchor leg of the 200 free medley. He isn’t letting the pressure of states hamper his mindset, however.
“It’s another swim meet,” Carunungan said with a determined smile.
He’ll be joined in the relay by a pair of second year qualifiers in Trevor Skoretz and Dylan Smith and newcomer Justin Conte.
“This is my first year swimming competitively,” Contee said. “It’s been really great over all. I get to share the experience with these great guys and I have a chance to move forward with my swimming career.”
Skoretz will also be swimming in the 200 individual medley.
The preliminary round will begin Thursday in Morgantown at the West Virginia University Natatorium with the finals on Saturday.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.