AUSTIN — Kaitlyn Owens’ suitcase will be a lot heavier on the way back to College Station than it weighed earlier this week.
The A&M Consolidated junior earned three medals in four events at the Class 5A state swimming and diving meet Saturday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Owens set a state record in the 100-yard backstroke, placed second in the 50 freestyle and helped the Lady Tigers finish third in the 200 medley relay to earn the 5A female swimmer of the year award.
“She’s an amazing kid,” Consol coach Jenny Marquardt said. “She is always working, and she always wants to improve. She’s looking for ways to be able to swim faster. She’s in it for her teammates, and she knows that scoring points is important for the team. That state championship is a sweet, sweet deal. She still wants some things. She still has some goals she’s trying to work towards, and I’m just super proud of her.”
Owens showed why the 100 backstroke is considered her specialty by winning in 53.85 seconds, breaking the record of 54.13 set by Prosper’s Destiny Nelson in 2015.
Owens led by exactly a second ahead of Lubbock’s Ellis Fox after the first lap and continued to dominate from there, finishing almost two seconds ahead of Fox’s second-place time of 55.30.
“I knew that the goal obviously was first place, but I think the bigger goal was to break the state record, which I had already done at regionals,” Owens said. “I was like, OK, it’s time to drop down time to get it here, so that was really exciting.”
In her first individual event of the day, Owens finished second in the 50 freestyle, just .04 seconds behind Austin Johnson’s Ava Longi (23.14).
It was a tight race from the start, then Owens took a small lead going into the wall. Longi came off the wall quickly and edged ahead to take the victory, followed by Owens (23.18) and Frisco Independence’s Sienna Schellen (23.34). Consol’s Claire Riley came in eighth (24.80).
In the 200 medley relay, Owens got the Lady Tigers off to a fast start, putting them in first place with her backstroke leg of 25.14. Sydney Criscitiello and Susie Smith swam the next two legs, then Riley brought the Lady Tigers from seventh to third with a 24.18 freestyle anchor leg for a school-record 1:48.00 overall time.
“I love Claire’s fight. She just refuses to quit,” Marquardt said. “She wanted to get that hand to the wall first [for third place], and she did it. I mean she out touched [El Paso’s Mackenzie Tovar] by five hundreths of a second. I was really proud of her.”
Friendswood won in a 5A record 1:45.21 thanks to Olivia Theall’s 24.05 third leg swimming the butterfly. Lubbock took second at 1:46.16.
Owens said earning the bronze medal was especially special for senior Criscitiello.
“It was a big deal,” Owens said. “My teammates did amazing. They have worked all year for this, and I was super pumped, because I know our senior Sydney, she really, really wanted that medal.”
Owens, Brett Hyman, Criscitiello and Riley closed out the girls portion of the meet with a sixth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. Owens put Consol in first with a 50.62 lead leg. Austin Johnson, Lubbock and Friendswood took a clear lead over the field over the middle legs, and Riley closed the relay with a 54.00 anchor leg for a 3:35.38 overall time. Austin Johnson won in 3:30.30 followed by Lubbock (3:30.34) and Friendswood (3:30.49).
Consol’s girls placed seventh in the final team standings with 111 points.
“They gave it everything they had at that moment, and you can’t ask anything more of them,” Marquardt said. “Seventh place is a respectable finish for our girls this year, and I think that they’ll be really motivated to continue and chase some more next year.”
Lubbock won the girls team title with 186 points followed by Austin Johnson (177) and Magnolia (171).
Kingwood Park took the boys title with 215 points followed by Frisco Wakeland (156) and San Antonio Alamo Heights (147).