NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Five Nacogdoches students have been waking up at 5 a.m. every day for as long as they can remember and heading to the pool before school. Now that work is paying off.
Jackson Castleberry, Phil Franke, Cooper Hinson, Tread Woodard and Zach Fickes will all be competing at the 2019 UIL State Swim meet in Austin on Friday and Saturday.
Castleberry finished second in the 100-meter freestyle at regionals. His second-place finish meant he automatically qualified for state. In addition, the 200-meter medley relay team of Castleberry, Franke, Hinson, and Woodard finished third. The 400-meter relay team of Castleberry, Fickes, Hinson, and Woodard placed fourth at the regional meet.
“It is difficult to get up every day at 5 and tell myself I am going to swim for 2 hours in 73 degree water,” Fickes said. “All of the suffering I have been through in the past six months will pay off now."
The team is full of youth. None of the swimmers are seniors. Castleberry is the only member this year with previous experience. He made it to state last year as a sophomore.
“I already have an idea of what it is going to be like there,” Castleberry said." I already know a couple of fast swimmers going. It is a much bigger confidence booster going in and being more prepared. There are not many side factors I don’t know about."
Hinson was part of the swim team last year but did not go to state to watch Castleberry; not because he does not like his teammate but because of the emotions of not qualifying.
“I did not go last year,” Hinson said. “I thought if I was sitting there it would make me sad knowing I did not qualify. We knew early on this year we had a chance to go with how we were swimming against other fast teams. There is not a lot of pressure on me since I get to be there with my teammates.”
The team is continuing a significant streak under 16-year head coach Carrie Scroggins. Since Scroggins, took over the program the team has been able to qualify at east one member to state every year.
“It shows the work ethic,” Scroggins said. “They show up before the word day begins or the school day begins and this is all year long. They are dedicated athletes and that is why they excel.”