Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 9, 2014

Barracudas earn kudos from coach

Ashland Y swim team state runner-up again

ASHLAND — Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.

Ashland hosted the championships for the 14th time in 16 years and racked up 613 points to handily finish runner-up in the team standings for the second consecutive year.

“A wonderful weekend,” Ferguson said after awards were handed out late Sunday afternoon. “It couldn’t have gone any better at all. We dropped times. Time was coming off in chunks. Not a half-second, but sometimes by five seconds or 10 seconds.

“We couldn’t have hit our taper any better,” Ferguson said of the practice of reducing workouts leading up to important meets. “You have kids that you know are going to do well. When you see others that are dropping time and grinning ear to ear, that makes you feel good.”

J.J. Holmes made a big splash in the Boys 11-12 age group, smashing the Y state record in the 100-yard breaststroke by several seconds with his time of 1:22.7. He also took first place in the 50 breaststroke and later qualified for zone competition in the event with his mark of 35.35 seconds during a time trial.

“I knew this was the year to get close or get the zone time,” said Holmes, who attends Verity Middle School. “I would practice extra or wake up earlier and do 5:30 (a.m.) practices twice a week.”

The AAY Barracudas’ strength in the 13-14 age group was evident again, as the boys and girls both earned high-point honors in that division.

Ashland’s girls scored 134 points behind Kenzie Pennington, Trinity Boggs, Lindsey Seaton and Starla Wilson. The quartet posted zone-qualifying times in the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays.

“It feels really good,” Pennington said. “We worked for it all year.”

Individually, Pennington totaled 28 points to win top honors in the 13-14 division, with Boggs and Seaton tying for second. Pennington broke a Y state record in the 200 breaststroke by touching the wall in 2:35.12.

Her brother, Reece, also had a big meet as a zone qualifier in the 9-10 age group.

“Reece had a good season,” Ferguson said. “That’s a hard-working family.”

Dad Jerry Pennington was busy running the timing system for the meet.

Boggs won three individual events and made two zone cuts — one of them behind Seaton in the 50 freestyle.

“I was really happy with my 100 freestyle,” Boggs said of her 56.71. “And the relays are fun. We push each other a lot.”

In the Boys 13-14 division, AAY posted 105 points with Eli Barnhill, Tim Stollings, Ty Adkins and Josh Daniels meeting zone standards in the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays.

Ashland’s Barracudas also led the nine-team field in the Girls 9-10 division, with Jasmine Webb as the individual high-point winner.

Webb swept the 50 and 100 freestyle races and joined Abby Christian, Gracie Stanley and Mary Lara Hardesty on the winning 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams.

Webb, who got into swimming a year-and-a-half ago, particularly enjoyed the relays “because it was teamwork.”

Another AAY team member, Ty Alderman, won three individual events in the Boys 15-18 group as part of the Barracudas’ strong effort.

“Year after year we keep improving,” Ferguson said. “I can’t say enough how proud I am of this team.”

State powerhouse Beaumont YMCA  of Lexington won the team title for the seventh straight year with 886.5 points.

“The meet couldn’t have gone on without volunteers, parents and YMCA staff,” Ferguson said. “Special thanks to (AAY) CEO Marla Gearhart and Daphne Thompson, our aquatic supervisor, for their help and support for this meet.”

 ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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