Burnet High School divers Zoe Nicholl (left), Tanner Keltch, and Angelica Orocso finished in the top three of the boys and girls diving competitions at the Class 5A Region V meet Feb. 1-2. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The words “outstanding” and “wow” don’t begin to describe the three Burnet High School divers and the two Marble Falls High School swimmers who punched their tickets to the state meet during the Class 5A Region V meet Feb. 1-2.
Earning a trip to the Class 5A state meet is impressive on its own.
But even more impressive is that Marble Falls swimmers are in their first year of UIL competition, Burnet junior diver Tanner Keltch scored 396.20 points to break a school record, and Burnet sophomore diver Angelica Orosco is returning to the state meet for the second straight year. They will be joined by Burnet freshman Zoe Nicholl on the state trip.
Also advancing is Marble Falls freshman Taylor Ashbaugh, who came in third in the 100-yard butterfly in 1 minute 7.53 seconds. Teammate Landry Stewart, a sophomore, was second in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:11.81 to also earn a spot at state.
“I think it speaks to the competitiveness of those girls and the fact they wanted to go out and compete at a high level,” said Lady Mustangs athletics coordinator John Berkman. “They walk into meets and see teams with 20, 30, 40 swimmers, and it doesn’t intimidate them at all. They’re ready to go all the time.”
On the girl’s side in Burnet, Orosco placed second with 320.90 points, and freshman Zoe Nicholl was third with 307.90 points.
Burnet head coach Stephanie Pegues, who was named the boys and girls diving coach of the year at the meet, said the athletes each had to perform 11 dives. Keltch’s best score in the boys competition came on a backward somersault in the straight position, and his marks ranged from a 6.0 to an 8.0 out of a possible 10 points.
“His dives were more precise than ever before, and he really had control throughout the meet,” Pegues said. “He has been pretty consistent throughout the season; however, the last few weeks with (the) district (meet) and (the) regional (meet), he was laser-focused and really pushed himself to do his best. With state on the line, I think Tanner just really applied his training and went all in.”
The Burnet coach added that her divers are proud to represent Burnet and welcome all the other emotions that come with competition.
“Nervous to compete against others we haven’t seen yet this year, and anxious to get there and perform,” Pegues said about some of the jitters. “They have an amazing group dynamic and are so supportive of one another. Angelica is excited to be returning for her sophomore year, and the other two are determined to score their best.”
While Burnet didn’t have swimmers advance to the state meet, it did have plenty of record-breaking performers.
Senior Katelyn La Joie broke the school record in the 50-yard freestyle medley with a 26.01 to finish 12th in the race. The old record, which she also set, was 26.12.
The girls 400-yard freestyle relay team of La Joie, freshman Julianna La Joie, sophomore Jacey Huston, and junior Avery McCrory swam 4:05.66 to finish 10th overall in the race, breaking the old school record of 4:07.74
The girls 200-yard freestyle relay team of Katelyn La Joie, Julianna La Joie, senior Deanna Crawford, and McCrory broke their own record from two weeks ago when they swam a 1:52.56 to finish 14th in the race. The old record was 1:52.80.
The Lady Dawgs placed 12th overall, up five places from last year, with 72 points, while the Lady Mustangs were 16th overall in the girls competition with Ashbaugh and Stewart as the only swimmers.
The Bulldogs were 15th overall, up from two places from 2018, with 36 points.
The state meet is Friday-Saturday, Feb. 15-16, at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, 1900 Red River St. in Austin.