The St. Joseph’s Academy swim team captured its 10th consecutive Division I state championship, scoring 280 points to finish ahead of Mandeville (227), CE Byrd (224), Dominican (196.5) and Southside (187). There were 23 teams in the LHSAA swim meet held November 20 and 21 at the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana. The championship meet was moved to Shreveport because of damage caused to the SPAR facility in Sulphur by two recent hurricanes.
Senior Amanda Andrews was the only individual winner for SJA, which relied on depth to capture the title. “It was so amazing to be with this team and to be here to race at state and compete during the decade of dominance,” she said.
Assistant Coach Ali Buchart, a 2015 graduate of SJA and former swim team member, filled in for head coach George Newport, who was mending at home after a bicycle accident. He spoke to the swimmers before and after the meet via FaceTime and kept tabs on their progress throughout.
Newport said the team fought back from being in third place after the first two events and in second place after three. In the fourth of the meet’s 11 events, the team pulled ahead. “We used great swims and superior depth to win our 10th state title in a row,” he said. “Our four state meet seniors, Amanda Andrews, Gabby Joffrion, Katherine Scully and Mary Stuckey, were fantastic. These four ladies led by example with tough swimming and great leadership. Together, they accounted for 90.5 points. They will be missed.”
Buchart said a decade of first-place finishes is an amazing achievement. She expressed her pride in every member of the team, especially given the challenges of competing in a pandemic. Only the swimmers in each event were allowed in the pool area, and after their cool-downs, they were required to go back into the holding area in the adjacent gymnasium. Spectators were not allowed, and just one coach was allowed on deck. “The loud cheers of our ‘Angel Nation’ were distant, and the parents’ support was outside the building,” Buchart said. “But we knew they were on the deck in spirit. That’s what fueled the girls. I was fortunate to be on deck, and I promised them I would be as loud as I could.”
Scoring points towards the team’s final total were the following:
50 Yard Freestyle: Amanda Andrews, 3rd place, 24.77; Julia Brinson, 7th place, 25.72
100 Yard Freestyle: Anna Guidroz, 6th place, 56.61; Julia Brinson, 12th place, 57.37; Caroline Munson, 14th place, 57.86; Laura Purgerson, 16th place, 58.46
200 Yard Freestyle: CeCe Werth, 5th place, 1:58.90; Gabby Joffrion, 7th place, 1:59.78; Katherine Scully, 15th place, 2:05.75
500 Yard Freestyle: CeCe Werth, 4th place, 5:17.08; Claire Lofland, 13th place, 5:42.61; Katherine Scully, 15th place, 5:43.49; Meredith Martin, 16th place, 5:43.94
100 Yard Backstroke: Gabby Joffrion, 5th place, 1:01.26; Caroline Munson, 11th place, 1:05.43; Camden Hull, 16th place, 1:07.30
100 Yard Breaststroke: Caroline Beck, 10th place, 1:13.09; Anna Guidroz, 13th place, 1:16.00; Ainsley Roberts, 14th place, 1:16.81; Vincenza Vendetto, 16th place, 1:19.01
100 Yard Butterfly: Amanda Andrews, 1st place, 57.22; Anna Webre, 11th place, 1:03.02; Camden Hull, 13th place, 1:03.47
200 Yard Individual Medley: Anna Webre, 6th place, 2:17.21; Caroline Beck, 10th place, 2:21.26; Erin Hollis, 16th place, 2:29.85
200 Yard Freestyle Relay: CeCe Werth, Julia Brinson, Anna Webre and Amanda Andrews, 2nd place, 1:43.61
400 Yard Freestyle Relay: Anna Guidroz, Gabby Joffrion, CeCe Werth and Amanda Andrews, 3rd place, 3:42.39
200 Yard Medley Relay: Caroline Munson, Caroline Beck, Anna Webre and Julia Brinson, 5th place, 1:57.46
Senior Katherine Scully said the team adapted to the new venue and made the best of the situation. She said bringing home the program’s 10th consecutive championship trophy is a surreal accomplishment. “I’ve been looking forward to this year since I joined the team as a sophomore,” she said. “It has been an honor to be a part of this team for three years, to compete the last two years and be a captain. Saturday was my last swim meet ever, and it feels so good. It’s a bittersweet realization, but I know good things are coming.”
Junior Camden Hull said she was grateful to be part of a team that captured the school’s 10th consecutive state title. “Being part of a such a historical team is incredible,” she said. “We all put a tough season behind us and swam amazing at state. We overcame a lot this season, and ending with #10 could not feel better.”
Junior Anna Webre said the dedication of the team and the support of their coaches, family and friends were critical to the team’s success. “It’s the small things on this winning swim team that make us who we are,” she said. “It’s the memories and moments that keep you going and that allow us to do so many great things. I would not trade this season for the world, and this team has something special.”
Sophomore Caroline Beck said the state meet was a memorable experience. “I enjoyed every moment of it,” she said. “It feels really good to have continued the legacy started 10 years ago. I think we all swam very well. We were able to overcome many challenges during COVID. This shows that all the girls on the team have a strong bond and want to represent the school.”
On the day before the finals, Coach Newport arranged for the team to practice at Centenary College. The swimmers were greeted with a welcome message on a scoreboard congratulating them as 2019 state champions.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Emily Gautreau