George Washington put itself in position Thursday to have a chance at a sweep at the state high school swim meet.
The Patriots boys, the defending state champions, advanced 21 entries (individuals and relays) into today's finals during the qualifiers at the West Virginia University Natatorium in Morgantown. The GW girls failed to produce a top qualifier in any of the events, but showed off their depth by advancing 15 entries.
No final events were held Thursday, only qualifiers to pare the field for today's races, which begin at 8:30 a.m. for the girls and 3:30 p.m. for the boys.
"The way they swam they both have a chance to bring home the title,'' said GW boys and girls coach Melissa Case in a phone interview. "We had a great day.''
Bridgeport, last year's state runner-up, was the next closest to the GW boys with 10 qualifiers while Charleston Catholic had nine. GW, though, has 12 of its 21 qualifiers competing in the championship heat, in which places one through six will be determined. (The second heat produces seventh- through 12th-place finishers.)
Bridgeport has eight qualifiers in the faster heat while Catholic has six. Hurricane, which advanced seven to the finals, has six in the championship heat.
The GW girls will have plenty of competition in today's finals from Morgantown, the defending state champion that advanced 14 swimmers into the girls finals, and Buckhannon-Upshur, which advanced 11.
The Patriots will have little room for error. GW has 10 of its 15 qualifiers competing in the championship heat, in which places one through six will be determined. (The second heat produces seventh- through 12th-place finishers.)
Morgantown has nine qualifiers in the faster heat while B-U has six. The Buccaneers, who set the only two meet records Thursday, could be the wild card since they had three top individual qualifiers plus a relay winner, which counts double in points. GW, however, qualified second (200 medley), fourth (200 freestyle) and third (400 freestyle) in the three relay events.
The GW boys were already in a hole when the state meet began after its 200-yard medley relay team was disqualified at the Region 4 meet last weekend when a swimmer left the starting block early. Relay events are worth double the points.
GW only had one top qualifier - the 400 freestyle relay with Chris Kay, Zach Kidd, Michael Case and Jacob Nason.
Kidd was third and Josh Barnette fifth in the 200 freestyle, Nason was third in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 butterfly, Kay fifth in the 100 freestyle, Kidd was third and Jackson Lilly sixth in the 500 freestyle, Kay second in the 100 backstroke, Barnette fifth and Nick Peyatte sixth in the 100 breaststroke.