By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Left, NUMBER ONE: The Booker T. Washington boys’ swim team, including Eli Brock, second from left, were winners of the Class 5A swim team championship in February. Right, ALL SMILES: The BTW girls placed second at state.
Booker T. Washington’s Eli Brock was the first-place medalist in the 100-yard butterfly at the Class 5A state swimming meet Feb. 17 in Edmond.
The senior swimmer won the event with a time of 53.73. His accomplishment enabled the Hornets to win the team championship by two points over runner-up Bishop Kelley, 289-287.
“The (butterfly) has been my favorite stroke since I started swimming,” Brock says. “But I never made the podium, which is the top eight, before this season. I’ve had a lot of injuries over my high school career. I had a hurt knee my sophomore year, so to be able to do it and do it my senior year is exciting. I can sleep well at night.”
Championship swimming is a combination of pure athleticism, form and efficiency, Brock says.
“I think it’s the combination of conditioning and stroke-work that makes swimming special,” he adds.
What’s more important to Brock was what his team did and not just the boys but the girls also. While boys and girls compete separately, both Hornet swim teams consider themselves as one.
“This group of seniors started to meet after last season, trying to figure out (to win a title) what we can do because we knew that we were right there,” Brock says. “Last year, the guys got third and the girls got second, and we knew we had a chance to take it this year. We only won this meet by two points, so that means for every person who swam, every single guy, if they hadn’t been there, if they hadn’t done their absolute best, then we would have lost state.”
The girls were runners-up with 319 points. Stillwater won the meet with 402. Second-place was also the highest medal attained by the Lady Hornets in individual and relay events. The team of sophomores Martin McKenzie, Tori Orcutt, freshman Colby Orcutt and senior Emma Latta finished runner-up in the 200-yard medley relay (1:52.76). Latta was runner-up in the 50 (24.78) and 100-yard (54.23) freestyle events. She had won both meets as a sophomore, then won the 50 and took second in the 100, last season as a junior. Tori Orcutt took second in the 200-yard individual medley (2:12.72).
“I went back and watched the replay of it,” Brock says. “Everyone is cheering for each other. We’re swimming for the team and you almost can’t tell between which team got first and which team got second between the boys and girls because we are all so unified. So, it was just a really cool experience.”
A testament to the unity of the Hornet swimmers is that they started the season off by taking a float trip together as a team, Brock says.
“We’re all really close,” he adds. “We do pasta parties before our home meets and our big meets. We met the weekend before state and we all sat down and talked. So, we’re a tight-knit team. We’re not worried about the distinction between the boys and girls team, we just all swim for each other.”
When asked about teammates, Brock praised Noah James, who was third in the 100 butterfly (53.86) by .13 seconds.
“Noah is the best swimmer on our team,” he says. “He scored the most points for us at state by a very wide margin. He’s helped me all throughout the season, all throughout my high school career to get better. He’s a phenomenal swimmer. He’s humble and I, personally, owe him a lot for how well he swam at state. He also got third in the 200 (individual medley, 2:01.28).
“Emma Latta and Tori Orcutt had been setting records on the girls’ side since they got here. They really killed it this meet,” Brock says. “Guys like Nathan Wallace, Michael Williams, those guys swim better for us from regionals to state. They dropped time from the first to the second day at state, which is really hard to do, they got those points and they beat the people that mattered, and that helped us to win.”