|Bluebirds Ready for Region 7 Meet|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. The Highlands Swimming and Diving Teams compete in the Region 7 Meet starting one week from Friday.|
There are currently 34 boys and 24 girls on the squad this year. The Highlands boys and combined teams just won the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference Division I meet at Scott and the girls finished second to Notre Dame.
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"I feel really good about it," Johnson said. "That's one of those things that they work really hard, but they're also really competitive among each other in a good, competitive way because there's only so many spots open for the regional team. They've really pushed each other to do their very best throughout the season."
Senior Jake Ryan said he's friends with sophomore Mac Russell. They race in the 50 free each week. The two also helped break a Rock the Block Sprint Meet time at the University of Louisville in the 200 Freestyle in one minutes, 29.38 seconds along with senior Brenden Conley and sophomore Will Griffith. The Highlands boys won that meet on Jan. 19 and the girls finished fourth.
"Even though we're on the same team, we're always racing each other more than anyone else," Ryan said. "It's always back and forth with us two. We always back each other better."
Johnson has an attendance check each week when it comes to practices and meets. In the Region 7 meet coming up at Silverlake Recreational Center in Erlanger, a swimmer or diver is allowed to enter four events with no more than two being individual events.
Teams can enter four per event and one relay team. There are 24 events total including three relays.
"I think swimming is a sport all about timing and dedication," said Sarah Redden, Highlands sophomore swimmer. "The more you put into it, the more you're going to get out of it so maybe your first, second or third year doing high school (swimming and diving), you're not going to see results immediately and that's okay. You need to persevere and your time will come. You encourage those older than you and be patient."
Johnson expects four divers on both sides to compete at the region meet. Junior Finn Murphy won the individual state championship in the one-meter diving last year after finishing runnner-up in the 7th Region meet. Sophomore Michael Meadows is also expected to dive. The leading girls divers are sophomore Lauren Groeschen and freshman Kenna Abner.
All three teams won the Eastern Kentucky University Relays. The Highlands boys beat Oak Hills in a dual meet for the second straight year and the girls won for the ninth straight year. The Highlands boys won the tri-meet wiith Cincinnati Anderson and Elder and the girls finished second to Seton.
The teams also swam in the Long Course Meet at Powel Crosley YMCA in Cincinnati. The Highlands boys beat Cincinnati St. Xavier in two relays.
The Highlands boys are hoping to repeat as 7th Region champions. The combined team has won seven straight region championships. Senior Matthew Lorenz along with sophomore Jack Banks, freshman Sam Jones and eighth grader Matt Herfel have been instrumental this season among others for the Highlands boys.
Junior Caroline Sand continues to lead the Highlands girls. Other contributors have included senior Oliva Hopper, juniors Tori Sutkamp, Rachel Moscona and freshman Evia Combs.
The state meet takes place at the University of Louisville two weeks after the region meet. The dates are Feb. 21, 22 and 23.