Relay Team Ready For State Meet

Posted on February 8, 2019 in Girl's Swimming, Winter Sports

2019_state

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. 2019 State Relay team, Coach Vester, Lizzie Wood, Kinsey Price, Khloe Price, Taylor King

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
CONVERSE — It’s a bittersweet time for Oak Hill’s second-year swim coach Kendrick Vester.

He’s sending the first swimmers of his coaching career to the state championship meet with a 200 meter freestyle relay team that features three seniors and a freshman. The sweet part of the equation happened Sunday when he got a call back from the IHSAA after the Eagles finished fourth in the rugged Fishers Sectional.

The bitter part for Vester set in at the end of that sectional when he realized his 14 seniors had competed for the final time.

Until he got the call.

The call meant that three of those seniors earned at least one more swim, and his first call went to standouts Kinsey and Khloe Price, who took care of the rest.

“We looked at each other like is this real? Are we really actually going?,” said Khloe before a photo shoot Wednesday at the school. “We went and found Taylor and Lizzie, and we were like we did it!”

The Price sisters will be in a familiar environment when they reach the starting blocks in IUPUI’s famed Natatorium for their preliminary heat against the fastest other 31 teams in Indiana. They were part of Oak Hill’s record setting 200 free relay team, with then senior Emma Travis and junior Olivia Smith – that holds the current school-record (1:38.12 in preliminaries) and a program best finish 15th in the 2017 finals.

Kinsey and Khloe also swam the event as freshman at state – with Travis and senior Erika Ford – and were 21st fastest out of 32 and didn’t advance to Saturday’s consolation or championship finals.

Senior Lizzie Wood was an alternate on the 2017 state 200 relay team, freshman Taylor King was still a couple years away from varsity swimming.

Wood, King and the Price sisters covered the 200 meters in 1:40.80 during the Fishers Sectional finals and finished fourth on Saturday. Only the winner of an event at sectional is guaranteed a spot to state, but their time was the 26th fastest in the state and earned the coveted and deserved call back.

To put into some perspective about the strength of the Fishers Sectional field, Oak Hill’s time was good enough to win five of the other 19 sectionals in Indiana and no other sectionals had four teams make it to state.

“It’s very satisfying. They definitely deserve it,” Vester said. “They’ve been working hard all season long. This girls team is definitely something else. The senior leaders are just great leaders, and they are carrying over such a great tradition that was established way before me, of course, but it’s still going and they work so hard.”

Vester was referring to the tradition created and grown by Oak Hill swimming’s founder Mark Yordy, who was sent into retirement after 31 years with the historic swims by Travis, Smith and the Prices in 2017.

Seniors are expected to be leaders, and it’s a part of Oak Hill’s tradition that’s taken seriously and embraced.

“I just looked back at what leadership I had and just tried to mimic that …,” Kinsey said, mentioning Ford and Travis. “I really looked up to those seniors and their leadership to me. They were really good mentors to us.”

The Price sisters have been dynamic in their four years at Oak Hill. Khloe has two individual Oak Hill records (200 and 500 free).

Kinsey now has two as well. Her sectional swims included besting her own record in the 100 back (1:01.01) with a time of 59.95, then shattering the longest-standing mark on the Oak Hill board, Alicia Keown’s 2:20.58 set in 1999 in the 200 individual medley. Kinsey shattered the mark with a 2:18.83.

Both Price girls are also part of two record-setting relay teams.

But the challenge to push one another to get faster in the pool hasn’t just fallen on Kinsey and Khloe, though they have been competing with and pushing each other since they started in club swimming. Leadership is something all the seniors take pride in.

“We push each other constantly. We’re always talking to each making sure each other is working hard,” Wood said. “We notice when one is slacking. We just make sure everybody is working to their full potential because we’re counting on each and every one of us, not just one individual.”

And now the seniors are sharing their leadership with King, who’s made quite the splash as a freshman. Part of preparing for sectional and now state was spent preparing King for the raucous nature of big swim meets.

“When we went into sectionals, they warned us that it was going to be loud and going to be crazy,” King said. “It will be exciting, and it will just be a new experience. I’m just super excited to swim with these seniors as a freshman at the state.”

Vester said the first and biggest goal for today is to make it to Saturday and have the last swim of Kinsey, Khloe and Lizzie’s high school careers come then.

All three seniors and Vester talked about breaking the two-year old 200 freestyle relay record, and the two may go hand-in-hand like it did in 2017.

“They’re definitely capable of doing it,” Vester said. “We’ve been working on some things, tweaking here and there to grab just 0.3 seconds here and there.”

Oak Hill’s time would need to be in the top-16 after today’s four preliminary races in order to advance to Saturday’s consolation (9-16) or championship (1-8). Being seeded 26th would make the task seem improbable, but the difference between Lake Central’s (1:38.84) 16th-seeded time and Oak Hill is less than two seconds, and it’s less than three seconds from the No. 8 seed South Bend St. Joseph (1:38.08).

And there’s only one way to make it happen.

“Just to swim my heart out and leave everything in that pool,” Kinsey said.

“I feel like we’re going out with a bang, this is it, this is awesome,” Khloe added. “That record, we really want to smash it. I hope that we drop time.”

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