Reid Elliot, top, takes aim at the 200 medley relay at regionals.
By Will Anderson
Reed Elliott’s victory in the 100 backstroke at last weekend’s regional meet in San Antonio was another dominant performance from the region’s best swimmer in that event, but the Lake Travis senior wasn’t even competing at his fastest.
Elliott finished in 49.78 seconds, nearly a second faster than Ian LeMaistre of Alamo Heights, but the Michigan-commit was not even tapering for that meet and plans to be even quicker in the water in two weeks at the state tournament.
“I wasn’t really rested or anything — I was tired,” Elliott said. “Next week, we’ll up our speed to make sure we’re where we want to be at for state.”
Reed also seemed assured of victory after swimming the preliminaries of the 100 butterfly in a meet-best 49.81 seconds, but he was disqualified in the finals when the swimmer in the lane next to him flinched and caused him to move.
“It happens,” Elliott said. “You have to move on and make sure you’re ready for the next race.”
Elliott will still have another chance to medal as the lead swimmer on the team’s 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Both relays finished second at the regional meet and were invited to state.
Jason Easter is also heading back to the state meet. Easter won the 100 butterfly at regionals in a time of 52.12 seconds as Elliott cheered his teammate on.
“My stroke feels really good,” said Easter, who swam at regionals despite suffering spasms in his back muscles. “I feel fast.”
Easter made it to state last year in the 100 butterfly but will be making his first trip as an automatic qualifier.
“He’s another senior who’s worked so hard and just dropped time every single year,” Smith said. “I think it’s a huge boost to win that event at regionals, to be automatically qualified for state. It’s great to see him have that.”
Easter also finished third in the 200 individual medley and was called up to compete in that event.
Elliott and Easter will be joined at the state meet by fellow senior diver Kristina Hoffman, who automatically qualified by winning the girls 1-meter dive with a score of 422.45.
Every race winner from each of Texas’ eight regions qualifies for state, and then the next eight fastest in each event are invited. On Tuesday a number of Cavaliers were called up by the University Interscholastic League for the state tournament, which begins Feb. 24 at the University of Texas.
Freshman Ben Rodgers will swim at state after he finished second in the 100 breaststroke at the regional meet in a time of 1:03.06. Rodgers also stepped in this season to swim the breaststroke on the team’s 200 individual medley after Travis Bauer graduated.
Sisters Katie and Megan Grose were also invited to the state tournament by the UIL. Megan, another freshman, finished fourth in San Antonio in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:00.24, and Katie continued her impressive season by finishing second in both the 50 freestyle (24.44) and the 100 freestyle (52.68).
Katie is also part of the state-bound Lake Travis 200 freestyle relay along with Hannah Evans, Libby Linton and Sedera Zbranak. The girls finished third at regionals in 1:42.66.
“It’s so neat to see some of our freshman be in contention for state,” Smith said. “They’ve worked so hard all year.”
Lake Travis is practicing early in the morning for the next two weeks as it prepares for its place in the morning session at next week’s state tournament and, at least for its seniors, a chance to leave their mark on this storied program.
“You have such a long season and it’s basically all preparation for making it to the state meet, to the big show,” Smith said. “It’s nice to see that hard work pay off for them.”