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EARLIER: Rockets will be contenders in Region 3 swimming

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By Laura Clark

The Shelby County swim team worked on starts and flip turns Wednesday, gearing up for the Region 3 meet at the Falling Springs Art and Recreation Center in Versailles.

Preliminary races begin today at 12:30, with the top six in each event making the finals Saturday. The next six will compete in a consolation race. Diving prelims and finals are Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The swimming finals begin at 2 p.m.

Coach J.P. LaVertu is excited about the prospects overall but worried that the team hasn’t had a meet in two weeks. The Shelby County Invitational planned for Jan. 30 was snowed out.

“I would have been a lot more confident had we had that meet,” LaVertu said. “It could be that they’re rested, they’re ready to go. Or it could translate to them not being in the groove and not ready to go.”

If the Rockets swim some of their seeding times, they’ll be qualifying a plethora of swimmers for the final day of races and a chance to go to state. The top two finishers automatically go to state. Then there is an at-large bid for the top 22 times in each event state-wide.

The boys team looks to improve on its seventh-place finish for 2009. The top four is a realistic goal, LaVertu said, predicting a tight 2-3-4 finish for Shelby, Boyle County and Danville. Woodford County is the favorite.

“The younger boys have come a long way to build our depth,” he said.

The medley relay is seeded fourth in the region. The 400 freestyle relay has a goal of finishing top six. But the 200 free relay is seeded second, with a solid chance of making state.

Individual who are seeded at the top include Jordan Lohr, who is seeded second in the 200 free. Seventh-grader Sam Ruble should be fourth or fifth in the 100 fly, LaVertu said, as well as in the 500 free.

Ruble's older brother John, is the defending regional champion in the 500 free and the favorite this year. He also has a shot at winning the 100 backstroke.

Alex Workman, a junior, has a strong shot of making finals in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. The 100 breaststroke could put three swimmers – Lohr, Mitch Tunstall and Coy Romine – in the finals. In diving, senior Travis Adams will be looking to qualify for state for the fifth year in a row.

In the 2009 meet, the girls and boys teams combined to take third place. They’ll be shooting for that again this year.

“I think we really have a legitimate shot to finish in the top two or three for the combined team,” LaVertu said. “I’d be ecstatic.”

The girls team finished second last year, which is the goal again. Woodford County is the favorite and has the depth to repeat.

The girls relay with the best chance of making state is the medley relay, which is seeded second. The 200 free relay is seeded third.

“But their time is tremendous right now,” LaVertu said.

Haley Miller is seeded fifth in the 200 freestyle. Collin Kessinger is seeded third in the 200 individual medley, but the time separating the first, second and third swimmers is less than a second. Kellie Grigsby also has a shot of making the finals in this event.

In the 100 fly, Miller and Callie Anderson could sneak into state.

“Either one of them could finish second in the region with a great swim,” LaVertu said.

Others likely to make finals include Grigsby and Erin Daughtery in the 100 free, Erica Ribenboim in the 500 free and Anderson in the 100 back.

Shelby is stacked in the 100 breaststroke, with Kessinger as the favorite and Daughtery and Ribenboim likely to make the top six.

“These three girls – that would go so far in scoring big for us,” LaVertu said. “They’re all three very capable of doing it.”