HARLINGEN— As the high school swimming season comes to an end, some members of the Harlingen South Hawks and Harlingen High Cardinals remain hopeful that they’ll be competing one last time in a couple of weeks at the UIL state meet in Austin.
However, if they hope to make it to state, they’ll first have to rule the pool this weekend at the Region VIII-6A meet. The event begins today and runs through Saturday at the Margaret Clark Aquatic Center in Brownsville.
For Harlingen South, 13 swimmers qualified for regionals in what has been a long, but successful campaign for the Hawks thus far.
“We’ve been working hard all season for this, but it’s not surprising having this many kids qualify for regionals,” said South head coach Hector Castaneda Jr. “All year round they’ve put in the time, put in the effort and, as long as they dedicate themselves to their craft, they can accomplish their goals.”
Castaneda believes two of his premiere athletes in Lola Garza and Aransas Haley have the best chance of reaching the state meet.
The top two finishers in each of the eight regional swimming meets and the next eight swimmers with the best regional final times overall advance to the state meet, which is set for Feb. 17-18.
Garza, who finished first in the 100 breaststroke at the District 32-6A meet last weekend, hopes to transfer that success once she hits the water again this week.
“It feels great being able to qualify for this competition, but it’s definitely a stepping stone toward my actual goal,” Garza said “Hopefully, I can make it to the second day of regionals and then be on my way to state.”
As for Haley, the senior is anticipating this meet with great focus and is looking to leaving her mark on the Hawks program.
“I feel I need to end this season on a high note since it is my last year competing for South,” Haley said. “But I’ll be happy either way since I accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself in the season.”
As for Harlingen High, the Cards are sending 18 to regionals and the majority of the team is young and will return to Cardinals coach Daniel Euresti next year.
“We have a lot of freshman girls on this team so this meet will be great exposure for them and will allow me to evaluate them in the process,” said Euresti. “We finished top four in a lot of the meets this year and placed second in our own here at home, so it’s been a great season.”
Harlingen’s Sarah Flores is the team’s leader and will be compete in the 200-yard individual medley as well as the 500 freestyle.
“This’ll be my third year qualifying for regionals and I’m happy to be able to compete in my two favorite events,” she said.
Coach Euresti praised Flores for her hard work and dedication.
“Sarah has been improving every year and she’s on the brink of becoming one of the best in the Valley,” Euresti said “She’s always trying to get better from watching videos or asking questions and that’s what you want as a head coach.”
On the boys side, sophomore Ian Frederickson will be leading the way for the Cards in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
Frederickson qualified for regionals last year as a freshman and is eager to return with hopes of solidifying a place in the regional finals.
“It’s a good experience. It gives you more of a drive to do better, even for next year it gives you motivation to do better than you did the year before,” Frederickson said.