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Vol. LXII, No. 6
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
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Morrison Gets PHS Girls’ Swimming Rolling as Little Tigers Place 3rd in County Meet

Bill Alden

It didn’t take long for Kathleen Morrison to realize that she and the Princeton High girls’ swimming team were in for a big day last Saturday at the Mercer County Swimming Championship finals.

Swimming in the 200-meter freestyle, the meet’s third event, Morrison cruised to a surprising second place finish, some two seconds behind WW/P-S’ Paola Simon.

“That a good way to start, I was not expecting to get second at all,” said Morrison, who was seeded fourth but clocked a 2:12.52 in the final, nearly three seconds better than her qualifying time.

“I know that Paola had gotten really fast since last year but really it was an open race for the rest of us. It was very exciting to get second in that.”

Producing a wave of exciting races, PHS went on to finish third of 15 schools in the team standings.

Senior star Morrison won the 400 free, setting a meet record of 4:36.54 in the event which was added to the county program this year. Morrison’s classmate and friend Elizabeth Cava came from behind to take second in the race.

Another PHS senior, Jordan Shapiro, emerged as one of the stars of the meet, winning both the 50 and 100 free races. Little Tiger sophomore standout Victoria Cassidy took third in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 backstroke.

“That was really exciting,” said Morrison. “We go to club practices and high school practices and it’s nice to have someone to train with everyday.”

Morrison and Cava later teamed up to help PHS end the meet on a high note as they helped the 400 free relay team place second.

“We were so pumped up in the relay after having so many good swims in the whole meet,” recalled Morrison. “The last relay was basically icing on the cake.”

For Morrison, her final county meet was one she won’t soon forget.

“This is definitely one of the top three meets in my high school career,” asserted Morrison.

“We only had seven or eight girls here at the finals and we still got third, that’s so good. The team as a whole did so well; it was a surprise.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand was proud of how his girls’ squad rose to the occasion.

“I was happy that the girls won third place but the best thing about the meet is how competitive they were,” said Hand.

“We had enormous time drops and some very gutsy swims. They rolled today. It’s good to watch when kids create their own momentum and somehow focus on the kind of preparation that leads to good performances.”

It was good for Hand to watch Morrison and Cava star in the 400 free.

“Kathleen was very fast this weekend,” said Hand. “She seemed pretty at ease and focused. She and Elizabeth are such good friends, goodness knows what they said prior to the race. Cava got second by putting in a terrific sprint on top of an already strong race.”

Senior star Shapiro proved she is in one of the strongest sprinters in the county with her double on Saturday.

“I’m very proud of Jordan,” said Hand. “Both sprint races are so fast and short, there’s not much margin for error. Jordan swam a nearly perfect 100 for where her ability is right now and also did a darn good 50. It was just good to see that she was so fast on top of the water.”

Sophomore Cassidy showed grit as well as speed. “She’s a fighter, she lowered her time in the IM by some three seconds from the qualifying,” said Hand.

“She fought hard in that race and then came back and had a real hard backstroke. She was one of the kids who swam two really strong relay legs in addition to two terrific individual performances.”

The 400 free relay was an appropriate conclusion to PHS’ big day. “They did a good job on the relay,” said Hand.

“They had a decent but not real fast time on Thursday. They beat that time by 11 seconds today. At that point the girls were aware of the score of the overall meet and they just got excited and swam a great one.”

With the state tournament coming up later this month, Hand is hoping his team can produce some more great swims.

“We’ll need to be real sharp in our first meet because we’ll be going against somebody our equal or a little better,” said Hand. “It’ll be a great test.”

Morrison, for her part, is primed for the final tests of her PHS career. “It’s fun even though we have to leave, I try not to think about it,” said Morrison.

“We train basically the whole season for the states, that’s our focus, We’ll see, anything can happen. We’ll be really excited for it.”

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