Without a first-place finish in any of the meet’s 11 events, the St. Joseph’s Academy swim team relied on depth to capture its 11th consecutive Division I-Class 5A state championship. The swimmers scored 378.5 points to finish 84.5 points ahead of runner-up Dominican (294). Rounding out the top five in the 22-team field were Northshore (204), Mandeville (193) and Mount Carmel Academy (181).
The LHSAA swim meet was held November 19 and 20 at the SPAR Aquatic Center in Sulphur.
The 2021 championship puts SJA in rarefied air as the only girls' team in any division to have won 11 straight state titles. With the win, the program recorded its 16th overall state championship, another statewide record.
Co-coach Ali Buchart, a 2015 graduate of SJA and former swim team member, said the team came ready to compete. “From prelims, bonding at the hotel to finals, our girls were focused and ready to swim their best,” she said. “They relied on their training, and it paid off because almost every swimmer dropped time in their events and swam a personal record.
“Because of our depth and the strength of our team, we were able to max out of events in prelims, meaning we had four swimmers in each event,” Buchart explained. “And in the relays for prelims, we were able to swim our alternates who seeded us perfect for finals. That is an accomplishment because not every team can do that. That is why our depth defines us as a team.”
Co-coach Nan Murtagh said the team began the 2021 season with one goal in mind. With dedication and hard work, the swimmers scored points through 16th place to bring home the state title. “A number of our girls swam personal record times on Saturday, which added to the excitement of the day,” she said. “Adding to our strength was the fact that in every one of the eight individual events, we could enter four swimmers. All but three swims from prelims made it back for finals. It’s a tremendous accomplishment to qualify that many swims for the finals competition.”
Scoring points towards the team’s total were the following:
200 Medley Relay: Laura Purgerson, Madeline Oubre, Kate Fawley and Caroline Munson, 3rd place, 1:54.45
200 Freestyle: CeCe Werth, 5th place, 1:58.03; Lyla Roper, 11th place, 2:03.73; Laura Purgerson, 12th place, 2:04.01; Meredith Martin, 14th place, 2:07.73
200 Individual Medley: Maddox Saurage, 4th place, 2:15.27; Madeline Oubre, 6th place, 2:20.61; Caroline Roberts, 7th place, 2:21.56; Caroline Beck, 9th place, 2:19.62
50 Freestyle: Anna Guidroz, 3rd place, 24.89; Caroline Munson, 5th place, 25.18; Mary Grace Talbot, 10th place, 26.03; Julia Brinson, 13th place, 26.29
100 Butterfly: Caroline Munson, 5th place, 59.95; Kate Fawley, 7th place, 1:00.70; Claudia Magee, 10th place, 1:02.37; Camden Hull, 11th place, 1:02.78
100 Freestyle: Anna Guidroz, 2nd place, 53.94; Julia Brinson, 13th place, 58.18
500 Freestyle: CeCe Werth, 2nd place, 5:13.49; Caroline Roberts, 9th place, 5:39.83; Claire Lofland, 10th place, 5:40.16; Meredith Martin, 11th place, 5:40.66
200 Freestyle Relay: Julia Brinson, Anna Guidroz, Caroline Munson and CeCe Werth, 2nd place, 1:42.39
100 Backstroke: Kate Fawley, 7th place, 1:02.22; Laura Purgerson, 8th place, 1:03.60; Lyla Roper, 9th place, 1:04.03
100 Breaststroke: Madeline Oubre, 5th place, 1:10.53; Caroline Beck, 9th place, 1:11.28; Maddox Saurage, 11th place, 1:13.45; Ainsley Roberts, 12th place, 1:13.80
400 Freestyle Relay: Laura Purgerson, Kate Fawley, Anna Guidroz and CeCe Werth, 3rd place, 3:43.08
Mindy Brodhead Averitt