Miller swim team claims title
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 4, 2018
The boys’ T.R. Miller swim team are state champions this week after a huge win at the AHSAA State Swimming Championships in Auburn last weekend.
The team secured the Class 1A-5A state championship in just the third year of the programs existence.
Something that has rarely ever been accomplished.
On last Friday afternoon, the teams arrived in Auburn to compete for their chance to win the title.
The boys’ team have had a strong season all year but were seeded only third going into the meet and needed 12 points just to secure a second-place finish.
The girls’ team, who have also competed at a very high level this season, secured three relay spots in the 200 medleys and in the 200 and 400 relays.
They knew that a team placement wasn’t in the cards for them but they would fight for the individual relays, and fight they did.
During the boys’ team preliminaries, Cole Jernigan managed to final in both the 50 and 100 freestyles and seeded fourth for Saturday’s race.
Mac Baxter managed to final in the 200 and 500 freestyles and seeded sixth and seventh.
Nolan Atkinson swam like a beast possessed in the 50 freestyles and came from tenth place to eighth, making the finals and giving Miller hope for more points in the 50 freestyles as well as a hope into making the finals in the 100 freestyles, securing a sixth-place seed.
Nolan Atkinson, Micah Flores,Cole Jernigan, and Mac Baxter put up a top-notch performance in the Friday night preliminaries, securing a first-place seed in both the 200 and 400 relays going into the finals on Saturday.
The girls finished 11th and 12th, just out of the finals in preliminaries, but with a final ranking of 11th and 12th.
The two relays were composed of Kinsley Byrd, Jocelyn Carpenter, Sailor Smith and Sara Scott.
The team of Tiffany Reiss, Addison Heath, Kayleigh Green and Jocelyn Carpenter made the finals in the eighth seed during the 400-freestyle relay.
The teams swam hard on Friday and became one of the 31, out of 49 teams, to make it into Saturday’s Race to the Blue Map.
Unlike other sports, in swimming the team doesn’t get to play and then the game is over.
The team then has to start over with the best eight swimmers in each event, with zero points, and begin the process over again.
The guys proved that they were up to that task and swam a lights-out race.
Cole Jernigan and Nolan Atkinson finished fourth and eighth in the 50 freestyles.
Mac Baxter finished seventh and sixth in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
Cole Jernigan, who was seeded fourth going into the finals in the 100 freestyles, came from behind to finish third in the state 100 freestyles, earning him a bronze medal for an individual effort.
Nolan Atkinson, who was seeded sixth in the 100 freestyles, came from behind as well and earned a fifth-place finish in the 100 freestyles.
These efforts earned major points for the boys’ team.
The placement of the Miller team came down to the relays.
In dramatic Miller fashion, the guys swam a personal record, out touching the second-place team in just hundredths of a second to win gold and 40 team points.
In the 400-freestyle relay, the boys stepped up to the blocks and swam their hearts out, beating their qualifying time and former personal best times by six seconds and winning two seconds ahead of the second-place team.
That win earned them a gold medal state championship win.
The boys won the overall 1A-5A State Championship as a team and are the state champs in the 200 and 400 relays in just three years of the programs existence at T.R. Miller.
The girls 400 relay team also swam a personal best as well and came from behind to earn seventh in the state.
“As a coach, I am in awe of their commitment to early morning, Sunday afternoon and late-night practices. For most of these kids, they play multiple sports and have practices in those areas as well. Their hard work and dedication certainly paid off as they claimed the Blue Map on Saturday afternoon. It doesn’t get any better than this. I am so proud of these boys and girls. They are a shining example of T.R. Miller Athletics,” coach Angel Boyd said.