BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Freshman Rylee Harris is heading to the MHSAA Girls Division 1 Swimming and Diving Finals this Friday and Saturday in Holland.
Harris qualified for the state meet in the 100-yard freestyle during the OAA Blue League Meet as she finished in first place in 54.14.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Harris said. “All of my hard work had finally paid off. It was an amazing feeling. I was half of a second off from the cut going into the meet, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but in a short race like the 100 freestyle anything can happen. My coach said at the beginning of the season she knew I would get it. I was happy I could make her and my parents proud.”
She added she knew she wanted to go to states from the beginning.
“I’ve been working towards this ever since the first meet,” Harris said. “My events are usually sprint events, which makes it very difficult to drop time. I was very close but just missed it. I knew going into leagues it was my last chance to make it this season, and I knew I had it in me.”
She shared she is nervous going but knows she can do it and will not be alone as divers Jordyn Coin, Ava Dowd, Zoe Paxton, Madison Verbeke and Alivia Walbridge qualified during their diving regional last week.
“My coach and diving friends will be there on the deck cheering me on,” Harris said. “It will honestly come down the person who has the best attitude going into the meet.”
Harris has continued to practice every day as well as stretching a lot and eating carbs and proteins as she prepares for the state finals.
“My coach works me really hard the week before the meet and then the week of we go into a taper which heals my muscles,” Harris said. “Lots of sleep and rest will also help.”
Harris began swimming when she was six months old and began to swim competitively when she was eight-years-old.
“My dad was a swimmer in high-school which always inspired me to swim,” she said.
She added there a lot of things she enjoys about swimming.
“I love it’s an individual sport,” she shared. “Your points go towards the team, but you are mainly racing yourself and your times. Also, the friends you make while swimming will last you a lifetime. I swim year round on a club team. This was my first time taking a break from that team, and I’ve really enjoyed high school swim.”
Her parents are Rebekah and Josh.
DIVING OFF TO STATES
Madison Verbeke was the champion at the MHSAA Division 1 Region 2 Diving meet at Lake Orion High School last Thursday.
Verbeke finished in first place with a score of 404.60.
Zoe Paxton finished in second place with a score of 340.80; Alivia Walbridge, fourth, 325.20; Jordyn Coin, 11th, 282.80; and Ava Dowd, 14th, 271.35.
All divers performed five dives, then it is cut to the top 23. Those 23 perform three dives and four are cut. Those 19 perform three final dives. The top 15 move on to the state finals.
The 2021 MHSAA Girls Division 1 Swimming and Diving Championships is this Friday and Saturday at the Holland Aquatic Center in Holland.
The swimming preliminaries begin at 12 p.m. on Friday and diving preliminaries will begin at 3:30 p.m. The finals begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday.