Despite small rosters, Fort Gibson still thriving
The girls have 12 swimmers and the boys team is even smaller with just six, but both Fort Gibson squads continue to forge ahead and deliver impressive efforts.
After a successful week competing in a home meet Jan. 21 against teams from Yukon, Oologah, Muskogee and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and in the Rose Invitational at Oologah last Saturday, Tigers coach Connie Dean said she is happy with where each group is at right now.
The girls went 3-1 head-to-head against the four other schools on Jan. 21, losing only to Fayetteville, and placed third at the Rose Invitational, behind champion Booker T. Washington and second-place Harrah.
The Tigers are thrilled to have junior Haylee Schapp, who placed second in the 200-yard individual medley at the Class 5A state meet last year, back after she moved away for several months to Florida. Schapp enjoyed a strong week, winning the 200 IM in both meets, winning the 100 backstroke on Jan. 21 and placing third in the the 100 back at the Rose Invitational.
Also contributing for the girls has been sophomore Sadie Allen, who won the 100 butterfly on Jan. 21 and finished third at the Rose Invitational. She also placed third in the 50 freestyle in the five-school home meet and was third at the Rose. Senior Sarah Townsend was third in the 100 breaststroke at home and fifth at the Rose.
Fort Gibson won the Class 5A east regional last year and placed fourth at the state meet, but Dean believes it will be difficult to repeat as regional champion under the current conditions.
“I have 12 girls, but a lot of them are brand new swimmers, so I’ve had to work them really hard this year, just trying to get them where they need to be,” Dean said. “There are some tough teams in our region. People are going to have us outnumbered. Bishop Kelley has some really good girls. I believe we have a larger team than they do, but my kids, none of them are club swimmers. They don’t swim year-round, they just swim during the swim season, but they work really, really hard. The one team that we’re really (concerned about) is Harrah. They’ve got a ton of girls. At the Rose, they beat us on sheer numbers.”
The boys, who were 5A east region runners-up last year and finished third at state, also have persevered despite having just six swimmers. They finished with a 2-2 record against the four visiting schools on Jan. 21 and were third at the Rose Invitational, behind Booker T. Washington and Harrah.
“I have three senior boys and I have three sophomore boys,” Dean said. “They’ve had to really improve this year. I’ve had to push them hard and some of them have stepped up. It takes all of them. They’ve all got to do their part in order for us to do well. We’re hoping every single one of them qualifies for state and our relays should all qualify in pretty good times.”
The boys are led by sophomores Colin Martin, the World’s athlete of the week, and Dalton Ross, and senior Joe Rollins.
Martin finished second in the 100 breast and third in the 200 free on Jan. 21 and won the breaststroke and was fourth in the 100 free at the Rose Invitational. Ross was second in the 100 back at both meets, was third in the 100 free on Jan. 21 and second in the 50 free at the Rose. Rollins was second in both the 200 free and 400 free on Jan. 21 and second in the 200 IM and third in the 400 free at the Rose Invitational.