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The Bob Jones boys swim team took the runner-up trophy at the North Sectional Swim Meet and now advance to the AHSAA State Swim Meet scheduled for Dec. 6-7 at Auburn University. Photo- Wade Thaxton, Bob Jones High

Local Swim Teams Fare Well At North Sectional

HUNTSVILLE- The local throng of high school swim athletes fared well at the AHSAA North Sectional Swim Meet held at the Huntsville Aquatics Center in Huntsville. The local schools were led by Bob Jones, which took home the runner-up trophy in Class 7A Boys Division while the James Clemens girls squad took third place in the Class 7A Girls Division.

Individuals and relays placing in the top three in each event qualified for the AHSAA State Swim Meet scheduled for Dec. 6-7 at Auburn University.

“Our boys finished fourth last year and just wanted to make a jump up to challenge Sectional winner Huntsville and we just wanted to improve,” said Wade Thaxton head coach of Bob Jones. “Our boys entered this meet with confidence and left the meet with even more confidence. Our team motto is ‘Seize It,’ and I believe we did in the Sectional.”

The individual efforts were led by John Choung (So.) of James Clemens who won both the 100 breast and 200 IM events and Madison Academy senior sensation Katie Pollard who took top honors in both the 100 breast and 200 IM races.

Beau Broussard of James Clemens took first place in the 100 backstroke and third in the 100 fly. Teammate Ashley Ahrens (So.) won the one-meter diving competition while all four of Bob Jones’ middle school athletes on the diving team qualified for the State Meet. Those included Nikolas Barnhart, Adam Adams, Josh Bryce and Mason Puholovic.

Joe Palenapa (Jr.) of Bob Jones took top honors in the 200 free while his twin brother Jake Palenapa was second in the 200 IM. Samantha Chang, an eighth grade sensation, won the 100 fly for the Patriots while Riley Groves (Fr.) took second in both the 100 back and 100 fly.

For the Jets of James Clemens, Anna Mead (Jr.) was third in the 200 free while Lusiana Levan (Jr.) was also a third place finisher in the 200 IM.

Madison Academy had two athletes take runner-up spots in the Class 1-5A competition as Rachel Culbreath (Sr.) took second in the 50 free and Hallie Mitchel was second in the 100 fly.

The Sparkman Senators relied on sophomore Jayme Simmer to make a noise on the swim scene taking second place in both the 200 free and 500 free events.

In relays, Madison Academy was first in the girls 200 Medley and second in the 200 free. James Clemens took second place honors in both the girls 400 free relay and boys 200 relay. Bob Jones was strong in the relays finishing second in both the 400 free and 200 free along with a third place finish in the boys 200 medley and girls 200 free.

“All four of our boys divers placed high enough to qualify for the State Meet and that was one of the biggest surprises from the weekend,” added Thaxton. “All are middle school athletes and have a very bright future.”

The team scoring included: Class 6-7A, Boys- 1. Huntsville 494, 2. Bob Jones 361, 4. James Clemens 267, 12. Sparkman 26; Girls- 1. Westminster Christian 384, 3. James Clemens 286, 4. Bob Jones 264, 9. Sparkman 64; Class 1-5A, Boys- 1. Boaz 401, 5. Madison Academy 56; Girls- 1. Whitesburg Christian 360, 3. Madison Academy 175.

“In the State Meet with 19 total athletes, we look to lay the foundation and experience for the future with our girls with just one senior on the squad and the same thing could be said for our boys with just one senior,” said Thaxton. “Last year our boys finished 16th, so our goal is to finish top five as we’re ready to take the next step.”

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