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January 15, 2014

H.S. GIRLS' SWIMMING: Highlanders expected to win third straight HHC title

Jeffersonville top contenders to Floyd’s crown

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — If form holds, Floyd Central will win its third straight Hoosier Hills Conference championship on Saturday at Columbus East.

The Highlanders are favored in two of the three relays and have three individual favorites. They are also one of the two deepest teams in the field.

Floyd Central coach Joe Perkins is confident with his team’s ability to capture another Hoosier Hills title.

“At this point in the season, we are hoping to be at our best,” Perkins said. “Our depth has gotten better as the season has gone on, which will help us in this meet.  We are looking for a great effort from our kids on Saturday to win.”

But, he noted, he expects a challenge from hard-charging Jeffersonville, which the Highlanders beat by just 11 points on Dec. 13, “[Jeffersonville coach] Keith [Gast] has developed tremendous depth this season and his kids will be very excited on Saturday.”

The Red Devils have three top seeds, including the opening 200-yard medley relay team, and diver Erica Romans will be difficult to beat on Saturday. Still, Gast knows that his team will have to overcome the Highlanders with depth in order to win its first HHC crown since 2006.

“I think Floyd is the obvious favorite,” he said. “[But] I like our chances of competing for a team title on Saturday. Certainly much better than the last few years. There are some key events and swimmers that will determine the team championship. Hopefully, we have the right keys.

“We are not a team built around winning individual events. Against Floyd in December, we only won two of the 12 events. If we can upset Floyd on Saturday, it will be because of our depth, not our number of [individual] championships.”

Both teams have put winning HHC crowns near the top of their goals for the season.

“It is always one of our top goals,” Perkins said. “It is very important to our kids and Floyd Central.”

“Our first team goal right now is to win the sectional,” Gast said. “Winning the HHC is probably the next big step for this group of girls, especially since it is something we haven’t done for eight years.”

New Albany, which interrupted a Highlander HHC dynasty with a team title in 2011, doesn’t figure to contend as a team. However, it does have some potential individual champions.

Sophomore Regan Thom is the favorite in the 200 individual medley, coming in with a time of 2:16.16. She’s also the No. 1 seed in the 100 butterfly. Junior Alexis Lete also figures to contend in the two freestyle sprinting events.

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