CHAMPIONS: Jenks swimmers celebrate winning the 6A state championship at the Jenks Aquatics Center on Feb. 18.
In just four years, Rhett Scroggs went from beginner to seasoned leader on the Jenks swim team.
Scroggs, a senior, had a big impact on the Trojans, who captured their first state championship since 2011 in February. It marked the 28th in program history, 17th on the boys’ side.
Jenks won the meet, edging runner-up Norman North by two points (359-357).
Winning state was like a “cherry on top” for Scroggs’ prep swim career, he says.
The fascinating aspect of Jenks’ winning state was that it did it in terms of quantity. It did not have one swimmer win a race in the finals, but with more swimmers representing the Trojans and placing in the top eight in every event, Jenks earned points through placing in the meet.
The Timberwolves had first-place finishes in eight of the 11 races in the final. They also had a runner-up finish, but what hurt them and helped Jenks was Norman Noth’s 400 freestyle relay team being disqualified in the preliminaries on day one of the meet.
“With the sheer depth we have as a team, we were able to just overcome not getting first in any events,” Scroggs says.
“We wanted to get four people in every event that could score,” Turner says.
Scroggs had the best individual finish of the team with a second-place finish in the 100-meter butterfly. He finished with a time of 53.08, 1.38 behind the winner, also from Norman North. Scroggs, along with teammates Hanshen Ni, Steven Mikels and Andrew Truong, were runner-up to Norman North in the 200-yard medley relay after finishing the competition with a time of 1:38.11, which was 2 1/2 minutes behind the Timberwolves.
It was the first time in state meet history that the team who won the overall meet did not have a swimmer win and individual competition. The Trojans were also the 2017 6A state academic champion.
“It is just awesome to be around some of my best friends and see us all going to the meet, when a lot of people didn’t really believe in us and we were kind of low,” Scroggs said. “But we came back and fought through and we end up winning by two points. Every single person on the team mattered.”
“For this group of boys, it was their first one,” Jenks coach John Turner says. “They’ve been working towards this goal for four years. Our seniors actually thought about it four years ago, that it would be our next best chance. They made it happen, basically.
“We planned on beating Norman North all year,” Turner says. “And we knew that the only way we could beat them is was depth. They bought in and banded together, like he (Scroggs) said, every single person contributed.”
Scroggs joined the Trojans swim team as a freshman. His brother, Reed Scroggs, a 2013 Jenks graduate, who swam his junior and senior years, encouraged him take it up.
“He told me about swimming, and I wanted to try a new sport after playing tennis for awhile,” the younger Scroggs says. “He recommended swimming because he had a good time there and his overall success with coach Turner.”
Scroggs met the coach, took on the challenge and things clicked.
“For someone just starting, not too many freshmen come in with no experience and do the butterfly,” Turner says. “He is an athlete. We don’t get a lot of ‘athletes’ because swimming is too hard and they rather do something else. It’s a lot of work.”
In the 400 relay, the final event in which Norman North was disqualified, the Jenks’ team of Jon Jin, Justin Sung, Mikels and Truong took second with a time of 3:16.49 (Bartlesville won the race with 3:15.28), clinching the win for the state title.
“Whenever we totaled up the points and realized that if we got first or second on the final relay, we knew that we would win,” Scroggs says. “You could just feel tension and the excitement in the air. I think it was probably the loudest I heard my team cheer and I personally yelled the loudest that I ever had before.
“We were like pure elation. We were jumping up and down, giving each other hugs, because it became real, that, after four years, we finally won state,” Scroggs says.
This was it for Scroggs. He has no plans to swim in college. He’ll be attending Oklahoma State next fall.
“I told him this year that the team would go as far as he let it, because I felt like he was our unspoken leader,” Turner says. “He wasn’t our captain, but I felt if he was successful and did the workouts, everybody would follow. It was an amazing group of kids. He got better every single year.”