Four BISD athletes competing at state
History will be made Friday in Austin when four student-athletes from the Burleson ISD will compete at the UIL Class 5A State Swimming and Diving Championships.
The contingent includes a swimmer making his third appearance at state along with the first females from the ISD to compete at the meet, plus the second male from Burleson to swim at state.
Making his third trip to state is Centennial junior Zach Eagle, who finished third in the 100-yard butterfly last season. Eagle qualified for state in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle.
Burleson junior James Miller, who is making his first state appearance, will swim in the 100 backstroke.
Making history as the first females from the ISD to compete at state are Burleson sophomore Aaliyah Young and Centennial freshman Harli Woolsey. Young qualified in the 100 freestyle and Woolsey will compete in the one-meter diving event.
The state meet takes place Friday and Saturday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.
The common theme for Centennial and Burleson’s squads are coaches named Martin. Jeremy Martin started Centennial’s program and Heidi Martin is in her first season at the helm of the Burleson’s program.
The student-athletes at both schools give their coaches a lot of credit for their success.
“Honestly, coach Martin’s workouts have been great,” Young said. “It’s helped keep me at the level I’m at.”
Heidi Martin was also the one who suggested that Young start swimming the 100 freestyle. Before the regional meet, Young admitted that she didn’t think she had much of a chance to qualify for state in her new event.
“Typically, I’m not a 100 freestyler,” Young said. “I started swimming the 100 [freestyle] at district. It was coach Martin’s idea.”
Before Young’s swim at regionals, Heidi Martin told Young her mission was to make me regret not wearing waterproof mascara.
Young second-place finish not only had Martin’s mascara running but also left her coach an emotional wreck.
“I was a complete mess after that race,” Heidi Martin said.
This season, Miller decided not to swim with his club team to concentrate on academics. He said that Heidi Martin’s tough workouts had him prepared for the district and regional meet.
“I was thinking I might get top five at regionals,” Miller said. “Finishing second in the prelims at regionals was an eye-opener for me. Then I thoughtm I can do this.”
In the finals, Miller finished second in the 100 backstroke. The top two competitors at regionals qualify for state.
Qualifying for state this as a junior was all part of Eagle’s master plan. Before his freshman year at Centennial, Eagle wanted to qualify for state as a freshman, finish in the top eight his sophomore year, finish in the top three as a junior and win it all as senior.
Eagle medaled as sophomore putting him ahead of schedule but this season the competition is much faster, making medaling again a tough proposition.
“I should be seeded seventh in both events,” Eagle said. “Last year it wasn’t as fast so this year I’m going to have to try a lot harder to get on the podium this year. It definitely makes me want to swim faster.”
Eagle said his attitude towards swimming changed before his junior year.
“All I wanted to do was sleep last year,” Eagle said. “This year, I’ve tried to be more engaged with swimming and practices.”
Another change is that Eagle can drive which mean he wakes up at 4;15 each morning to drive to 5:15 practice.
Woolsey will be competing in her second UIL state championship at Centennial. In the fall, Woolsey finished fourth at the UIL Class 5A State Cross Country Championships while helping the Lady Spartans finish third as a team.
The freshman said diving and running are a good combination.
“I think diving and running compliment each other because diving keeps my muscles stretched and running gives me the strength,” Woolsey said. “Luckily diving isn’t as physically challenging as running.”
Woolsey started swimming in fourth grade then the next season she became interested in diving.
“I saw the divers and thought it would be cool to do that,” Woolsey said. “So my mom signed me up for a dive camp and I fell in love with it.”
Woolsey practices with her club team in Mansfield under the direction of coach Vladamir Sak.
“He’s such a great coach,” Woolsey said. “He’s a perfectionist and that’s what has really given me an edge.”
“I love competition. I can’t wait to go to state.”