The Gators Swim Team had plenty of reason to celebrate at its spring banquet April 14 at the Grace United Methodist Church.
Several individuals and the team itself had plenty of success in recent meets.
Seven Gators swimmers qualified for the Speedo Championship Series Sectional Meet in Topeka, Kan., last month.
"That is more than we have ever sent before," Gators head coach Steve Franklin said. "It shows that the program is going in the right direction. Every step that these boys and girls make is a huge one and we were pleased to have that many make it to sectionals. I am happy with their progress."
Steffan Troxel continues to excel for the Gators. The Jackson High School senior was a sectional champion at Topeka in both the 1,000-meter freestyle and the mile freestyle. Troxel, who will be attending the University of Indiana in the fall, also competed at the 2005 World Championship Trials in Indianapolis, which took place the first week of April. He placed 15th in the 800 freestyle and also acheived another world championship trial cut in the 1,500 free.
Kati Luehmann, 16, from Charleston, and Hannah Kinder, 15, from Cape Girardeau, also qualified and competed at the sectional meet. Morgan Frasier, 12, from Sikeston, also competed at sectionals.
Other boys in addition to Troxel who acheived the qualifying times and competed at sectionals were: David Welker (17, Jackson), Kris Metje (17, Cape Girardeau), Adam Ansberry (17, Cape Girardeau) and Sam Gramling (13, Cape Girardeau).
John Wolpers and Ashly Ducharme were recognized at the banquet April 14 with the Outstanding Gator Award.
"That is our big award that goes to the swimmer whose body of work most exemplifies what we strive for in our Gator swimmers," Franklin said. "John and Ashly are both fine swimmers who are very dedicated to their sport and go out of their way to do things for others."
Several other awards were given out at the banquet.
* Most valuable swimmers in various categories were: Seniors, Kati Luehmann and Steffan Troxel; ages 13-14, Maria Esswein and Caleb Statler; 11-12, Morgan Fraser and Sam Gramling; 9-10, Kyleigh Troxel and Kristian Troxel, 8-and-under, Madeleine McDonald and Colton Blagrove.
* Most dedicated swimmers were: Seniors, Ashly Ducharme and John Wolpers; 13-14, Mary Ford and Caleb Statler; 11-12, Alyssa Coots and Wyatt Larson; 9-10, Morgan Maguire and Ramsey Scott; 8-and-under, Gabby Vieira and Luc Helwege.
* Most improved swimmers were: Seniors, Hannah Kinder and Kris Metje; 13-14, Kelly Ennis and Sam Gramling; 11-12, Sydney Stein and Caleb Coots; 9-10, Shannon Nyut and Ramsey Scott; 8-and-under, Elizabeth Kiefner and Chase Hagerty.
The Gators Swim Team will be traveling to St. Louis later this month to defend its title in the Small Club Championships. The Gators, two-time small club champions, will compete April 30 and May 1 at University City High School.
The Gators Swim Team will defend another title in July at the Summer League Championships in Sikeston, Mo. Another highlight of the summer will be a trip to New Orleans, where the Gators will be competing in the National AAU Junior Olympics in the first week of August.