BY RAUL GARCIA
McALLEN — Area dive and swimming teams are heading today to Brownsville to compete in the UIL Conference 6A-Region VIII tournament.
Participants will compete over the next two days at the Margaret Clark Aquatic Center to qualify for the state meet.
“McAllen Rowe senior David Mondragon, McAllen High sophomore Danielle Park have a good shot at trying to make it to state,” McAllen ISD diving head coach Humberto Patch said about the divers.
But it could be a dog fight as PSJA High’s Julio Gomez, Harlingen South’s Jason Luckey and La Joya High’s Alan Castillo will stand in their way at regionals as the top three seeded boys in the 1-meter diving event, respectively.
“It’s going to be a close dive if they both show up and do their best,” Patch said. “They have to stay relaxed, focused and try to do their best.”
Dive contests begin today and the top three qualifiers advance to state Feb. 14-15 at Lee Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin.
McAllen Rowe freshman Dulce Rodriguez and McAllen High Madeline Shearer will also be competing in the dive portion of the tournament.
“I always tell them to go for their personal best,” Patch said. “You always want to end your season on a high note. I want them to be positive and enjoy the moment.”
In the swimming competition the top two finishers in each race qualify for state.
The McAllen High girls’ 400-yard freestyle relay team should have their work cut out for them as they enter the tournament seeded No. 4 with a 4:16.54 time. No. 3 Laredo Alexander (4:15.49), Harlingen South (4:14.43) at No. 2 and No. 1 Los Fresnos (4:04.22) are the top seeds in that event.
“We know they can go fast, but we can go fast too,” McAllen High swimming head coach Juan Gutierrez said. “So we are going to go at each other.”
McAllen High’s Jace Lyon and Nilton Dos Santos head into their 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard butterfly races as No. 1 seeds.
Last year, Lyon passed Shaine Casas’ McAllen High record to reach state in the 100-yard breaststroke, clocking in at 59.44, and Dos Santos is shooting to swim three seconds faster, according to Gutierrez.
“Jace should be good in the 100 breast again,” Gutierrez said. “He’s been working all year for it.”
Dos Santos is two seconds faster than No. 2 seed Laredo United’s David Mendoza, according to the Region VIII 6A Championship 2020 Psych Sheet, which lists the swimming events and swimmers times.
In the boys’ 100-yard backstroke, PSJA High’s Carlo Carranza is seeded third. At No. 4 is Weslaco East’s Nathan Parker.
McAllen Rowe’s No. 4 seed, Nico Acevedo, will be looking to shake things up in the boys’ 100-yard freestyle with a 51.52 time. Brownsville Hanna’s No. 1 seed, Quinten Deysel, leads the pack with a 48.81 time in that event.
And looking to make a move into the top three in the girls’ 50-yard freestyle is No. 4 seed McAllen Rowe’s Kaitlyn Bzibziak. No. 1 seeded Los Fresnos’ Jada Ashford leads at 23.86.
“All the kids are ready to go and we’re excited,” Gutierrez said.