NORMAL, Ala. – The Buckhorn Bucks bolted past the field in the 2017 Madison County High School Championship Swim Meet Monday night at the Alabama A&M University Swim Complex.
The Bucks’ boys finished with 175 points and the girls had 194 to sweep the meet and defend their titles. Buckhorn won all six of the team relay events.
The Buckhorn girls have won the last eight county championship meets, while the boys have a string of four in a row.
Hazel Green finished second with 100 points for the boys and 99 on the girls’ side. Sparkman had 94 points in boys’ competition and 59 with the girls. Madison County High School ended up with 46 and 14, respectively.
“We’re really strong in the relays and we won most of the individual events as well,” Buckhorn coach Glenn Carr said. “We’re only graduating two seniors this year. The team is still young and we have some kids who are coming up into the program in the future, too.”
Buckhorn junior Emerson Barrett won the girls 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke.
“I was a little numb still from the 100 fly when I raced the 100 back,” Barrett said. “The back is a hard stroke, too. My under-waters felt really good and I was excited to win the event for the fifth time. I started swimming for the varsity in seventh grade.”
Buckhorn teammate Jack Sentell was one of the busiest athletes, winning the boys 200 freestyle and then the grueling 500 free.
“Last year, I just sort of fell into the distance swims naturally,” Sentell, a ninth-grader, said. “It was difficult doing the 200 and then the 500, but I was able to power through it. I still see plenty of room for improvement, but am excited about the next meet.”
Buckhorn’s Riley Worshek finished first in the boys 200 IM and the 100 fly. His brother, Caleb Worshek, won the 100 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke. Matthew Sentell took the 100 back individual title. Keyshawn Erskine of Hazel Green won the boys 50 free.
“The Buckhorn boys are 7-2 overall on the season, only losing to a very powerful Huntsville High team that will probably win state,” Carr said. “We also lost by one point to Grissom. The boys are really optimistic about state meet and what we can do down there.”
Talented Hazel Green freshman Olivia Vickers was overall individual high-point winner on the girls’ side with victories in the 200 IM, 100 free and the 100 breaststroke.
“I enjoy racing against my friends,” Vickers said. “They push me to do better until the last second. I do my best and try my hardest at every meet, even when I add time. I just love swimming.”
Victoria Westbrook of Buckhorn took the 200 freestyle, teammate Devyn Taylor won the 50 free. Emerson Barrett’s younger sister, Bucks freshman Isabella Barrett, was first in the 500 freestyle.
“I went for a good start and the lead and then tried to find a solid pace before sprinting to the finish,” Isabella Barrett said.
Even though this is his first year at Buckhorn, Carr has plenty of coaching expertise. A former high school coach at Lee-Huntsville, Gadsden, Emma Sansom, Decatur, Austin and Hazel Green, Carr sports more than 45 years of coaching experience. He mentored on the collegiate level at the University of Texas-Arlington. He has also spent the last 14 years as head coach of the Sharon Johnston squad in the Rocket City Swim League.
Carr feels his overall success is due to the bevy of talented swimmers over the years on his teams, plus opting for the positive reinforcement approach to coaching.
“Our athletes at Buckhorn work very hard in practice,” Carr said. “These kids put in a lot of time and effort. To sort of reward them, we spend a little time every week with some fun competitions like jump rope, hula hoop, and juggling. I don’t tell them what the next weekly challenge will be, so they’re always guessing.”
County swimmers with qualifying standards for individual events compete in the North Alabama High School Sectional Meet at the Huntsville Aquatics Center Nov. 17. Teams can also enter relay events. The Alabama State Meet is Dec. 1-2 at Martin Aquatics Center on the campus of Auburn University.