E.A. Sports Today

Oxford cleans up in County

Yellow Jackets sweep boys, girls titles for second straight county swim championship; Oxford’s Smith, Weaver’s Balma point leaders

Oxford's Colton Smith (L) and Weaver's Lucia Balma were the high-point scorers in Thursday night's Calhoun County Swimming Championships.

Oxford’s Colton Smith (L) and Weaver’s Lucia Balma were the high-point scorers in Thursday night’s Calhoun County Swimming Championships.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

This is Colton Smith’s time and he’s making the most of it. Lucia Balma, meanwhile, is making up for lost time.

Smith, an Oxford senior, and Balma, a Weaver sophomore, both won three events Thursday night and were the high-point scorers in the Calhoun County High School Swimming Championships at the Anniston YMCA pool.

Oxford was the big winner, taking the overall team title for the second year in a row. The Yellow Jackets dominated the boys race with 338 points and won the girls title with 125.

“It’s nice to go back-to-back; there are some people who still don’t know you have a swim team,” Oxford coach Tammy Bobo said. “I knew from sheer numbers the boys would win, but I was surprised by the girls, because they haven’t been swimming long. I’m pleased to see the program progressing.”

Smith has been waiting three years to take his place as the top dog at Oxford and on the YMCA Blue Dolphins team.

Coming to the sport as a novice, he waited behind Mikey Monday and Elon Bush and then Trace Hilbun while learning to become a swimmer, but Thursday night he defined his position by winning the men’s 50 freestyle (25.62), 100 butterfly (1:06.29) and 100 freestyle (58.63).

He sealed the boys high-point award by nosing out teammate Cade Hilbun in the 50 freestyle, the only race they went head-to-head in the meet.

“It’s my final year and just go all out, basically,” Smith said. “Swimming is not like every other sport; it’s one of the hardest sports there is. You have to have not just determination, but a true heart. If you don’t like swimming, you’re not going to do good at it.

“There was one part where it just didn’t seem like it was going for me, but then I actually started trying and putting forth the effort. Now people are looking up at me as the example, so I have to try harder. I have a lot of things inspiring me to keep going.”

Balma has been driven this season by the pain of missing the sectional qualifying time in the highly competitive 50 freestyle last year by two-tenths of a second. This year she already has made three sectional cuts and is on the verge of one state benchmark.

In Thursday’s County meet she won the women’s 50 freestyle (28.41), 100 backstroke (1:14.47) and 100 freestyle (1:03.91). She won the 50 free and 100 back in faster than her seed times, some four seconds faster in the backstroke.

“Missing it last year really affected me a lot,” she said. “Now I just try to push myself every day at practice to become even faster and faster so I can make the cut.

“I think back to that and don’t want it to happen again, so I keep pushing myself. I’m going to keep on pushing myself until I make the state.”

Like Smith, Balma sealed her high-point award by edging her prime challenger, Weaver teammate Emma Levesque, in their only head-to-head race, the 50 free.

“She has taken massive disappointment and … become a monster in the water,” Blue Dolphins assistant coach Johnnie Pearson said. “You can’t keep her out of the pool. She’s motivated to get there.”

Levesque came back to turn in one of the more inspired performances of the night. Only a few minutes after finishing second in the 100 butterfly, the 12-year-old closed a big gap in the final 25 yards of the 200 freestyle and to edge White Plains’ Elisabeth Holmes at the wire by six-hundreths of a second.


Overall Team: 1. Oxford 463, 2. Weaver 113.
Boys Team: 1. Oxford 338, 2. Alexandria 49, 3. Wellborn 46.
Girls Team: 1. Oxford 125, 2. Weaver 113, 3. White Plains 82, 4. Saks 46.

Boys High Point: Colton Smith, Oxford.
Girls High Point: Lucia Balma, Weaver.

Men 200 Freestyle Relay: 1. Oxford 1:57.81.

Women 50 Freestyle: 1. Lucia Balma, Weaver, 28:41; 2. Elisabeth Holmes, White Plains, 31.12; 3. Emma Levesque, Weaver, 31:59; 4. Abby Smith, White Plains, 34.00; 5. Abby Rouse, Oxford, 34.16; 6. Heather Wright, Oxford, 36.35; 7. Shae Wright, Oxford, 45.96.

Men 50 Freestyle: 1. Colton Smith, Oxford, 25.62; 2. Cade Hilbun, Oxford, 26.50; 3. Dylan Renfroe, Oxford, 27.21; 4. Trevor Perry, Alexandria, 28.00; 5. Lance LaGuerre, Wellborn, 29.97; 6. Tyler Swinford, Oxford, 30.00; 7. Jordan Smith, Oxford, 31.96.

Women 100 Backstroke: 1. Lucia Balma, Weaver, 1:14.47; 2. Abby Smith, White Plains, 1:26.07; 3. Heather Wright, Oxford, 1:39.71.

Men 100 Backstroke: 1. Cade Hilbun, Oxford, 1:07.25; 2. Jordan Smith, Oxford, 1:33.90.

Women 100 Breaststroke: 1. Abby Rouse, Oxford, 1:58.59; 2. Shae Wright, Oxford, 1:59.97.

Men 100 Breaststroke: 1. Trevor Perry, Alexandria, 1:31.12; 2. Dylan Renfroe, Oxford, 1:31.18; 3. Tyler Swinford, Oxford, 1:38.13.

Women 100 Butterfly: 1. Caitlyn Holmes, Saks, 1:27.63; 2. Emma Levesque, Weaver, 1:41.15.

Men 100 Butterfly: 1. Colton Smith, Oxford, 1:06.29; 2. Lance LaGuerre, Wellborn, 1:23.91.

Women 200 Freestyle: 1. Emma Levesque, Weaver, 2:34.08; 2. Abby Rouse, Oxford, 2:56.02.

Men 200 Freestyle: 1. Cade Hilbun, Oxford, 2:12.44; 2. Dylan Renfroe, Oxford, 2:34.94.

Women 100 Freestyle: 1: Lucia Balma, Weaver, 1:03.91; 2. Elisabeth Holmes, White Plains, 1:12.38; 3. Abby Smith, White Plains, 1:18.01; 4. Heather Wright, Oxford, 1:20.22; 5. Shae Wright, Oxford, 1:44.03.

Men 100 Freestyle: 1. Colton Smith, Oxford, 58.63; 2. Trevor Perry, Alexandria, 1:06.06; 3. Tyler Swinford, Oxford, 1:09.57; 4. Lance LaGuerre, Wellborn, 1:09.59; 5. Jordan Smith, Oxford, 1:17.81.

Men 200 Medley Relay: 1. Oxford, 2:14.19.

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