By Will Anderson
Reid Elliott is the fastest high school backstroker in Texas after winning the 100-yard event at the state tournament Saturday.
He took the title in the Class 4A, and his time of 47.68 seconds was faster than anyone else in the pool regardless of division.
For Elliott, it was just the icing on an already sweet season. The senior, who will compete for Michigan next year, is already focusing on his next stop: sectionals this weekend in College Station, the first step towards national trials.
“I just wanted to go fast here,” Elliott said. “I didn’t really care about winning. I just wanted to go fast time.”
Elliott has been on a tear since winning the 100 backstroke at the District 25-4A tournament on Jan. 28. He won the same event at regionals by almost a full second, finished in 48.04 at last Friday’s state preliminary race and was even faster on Saturday.
“There was no question in my mind, in his mind, in anyone else’s mind who knows him,” Lake Travis coach Darcy Smith said of Elliott. “We knew he was going to get out there and dominate that event and he certainly did. There was no one close to him.”
Elliott also medaled as part of Lake Travis’ third-place 200 medley relay, which included Ben Rodgers, Jason Easter and Kyle Lucas. Elliott’s other race of the day was also a relay as he swam the lead leg of the 400 freestyle relay.
The Cavaliers came into the 400 relay seeded third after Friday’s preliminaries. Elliott got them off to a good start and Lake Travis remained in the hunt for most of the race until it was passed by Kingwood Park, Pearce and Wakeland in the final 100 yards.
“It was a fast time – we set some [team] records I don’t think will be beat for a while,” said Easter, who swam the third leg of both relays. “It was fun to be a part of those relays.”
Easter, making his first trip to the state tournament as an automatic qualifier, took fifth in the 100 butterfly as well.
“I was disappointed I got fifth but not disappointed in how I swam,” he said. “Other people swam faster. It was a tough field, but I feel like I swam pretty fast.”
Senior Katie Grose had a productive final meet for the Aqua Cavs. The senior, making her fourth state tournament appearance, finished fourth in the 100 freestyle and swam the anchor leg on the seventh-place 200 freestyle relay. After Lake Travis spent the majority of the relay in last place, Grose covered the final 50 meters in 24.45 seconds to help her team surge past Lovejoy.
“I just knew it was my last race for my senior year, so I knew I had to give it my all,” Grose said about the 200. “Having a lot of girls here was great, and I had a lot of fun.”
Meanwhile Katie’s younger sister Megan made it to the finals of the 100 butterfly where she finished eighth in a time of 1:00.84. Like her sister, who also made it to the state meet as a freshman, Megan hopes this is only the start of many trips to the tournament.
Senior diver Kristina Hoffman also finished her career with the Cavaliers on Saturday, competing in the pool where she regularly practices with club team Longhorn Aquatics.
“Each pool, the boards are a little bit different and it always affects your hurdles and your takeoffs depending on how bouncy the boards are,” Hoffman said. “It was an advantage for me because I got to dive where I always dive. It’s what I’m used to.”
That advantage wasn’t quite enough to get Hoffman to the podium as she finished fourth after 11 rounds with a points total of 420.70. It was the diver’s first trip to the state tournament, but she will return to competition at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center when she starts her career at Texas in August.
“I was just really happy to be here finally,” she said. “It was a good experience for sure.”
Overall Lake Travis finished seventh in the boys team standings and 11th for girls but the individual performances of the Cavaliers, especially the youngest ones like Megan Grose and Ben Rodgers, encouraged Smith for the coming seasons.
“It’s been an exciting meet, an exciting day, and we’re happy with the results,” the coach said. “There’s always a fun atmosphere at this meet. It’s just great to see them having the meet they’ve worked so hard for all year.”
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