Senior leaders and talented freshman may provide the “perfect storm” for an all-time season for Smith-Cotton boys swim and dive.
Rock Bridge was the lone team to outscore Smith-Cotton during a swim meet Tuesday with Marshall, Hickman, Battle, Missouri Military Academy and Warrensburg at Joseph W. Arbisi Memorial Pool.
Three meets into the season, records have already fallen courtesy of senior Jeremy Acosta and freshman Clay Pilliard. Acosta broke the 100-yard butterfly record with a time of 55.94 seconds and the 200 individual medley mark in 2 minutes, 7.49 seconds.
Smith-Cotton head coach Jerry Tankersley is pulling for a special season.
“I’m hoping we’re going to have people go to state and do some stuff,” Tankersley said. “I think this is the perfect storm right now. I don’t know when it will happen again.”
Clay Pilliard, who was runner-up Tuesday in the 200 IM in 2:14.50, called his shot before breaking the 500-yard freestyle record Sept. 5 at North Kansas City with a time of 5:09.73.
“He told me right before he went up to the block,” Tankersley said. “He said, ‘I”m going to get that record.’ He killed it.”
Acosta claimed second-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke (59.62), the 200 freestyle (1:52.28) and helped Smith-Cotton win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:41.70.
In an effort to avoid a plateau in performance — and reach lofty goals — Tankersley hosts morning sessions for Acosta two days each week in addition to the regular S-C practice schedule.
“We’re just trying to get as many yards in as we can,” Tankersley said. “He does a lot of stuff really well already, so it’s just increasing that intensity, making sure we’re putting a huge workload on him. … In order to break through that wall, you really have to up that intensity.”
For all his accomplishments in the water, Tankersley said Acosta can improve his vocal leadership outside of the pool. For now, S-C’s soft-spoken senior leads by example — and with his name and time on the record board.
“That’s the objective of high school sports,” Tankersley said. “Learn his roles. Learn his responsibilities.”
On the diving board, senior Rea Cooper and sophomore Justice McDonald have traded places atop the leaderboard through three meets, with the latter winning on Tuesday.
“They’re kind of going back and forth,” Tankersley said. “It’s good to have that competition on your team. It kind of pushes them to learn new dives.”
Tankersley said freshmen Jordan Beard and Malachi Williams, who on Tuesday placed third and fourth, respectively, project to carry on a successful diving tradition at Smith-Cotton.
“Keeping them together the next few years is going to be awesome,” he said.
Smith-Cotton juniors Lowell Powell and Hunter Scholl shored up the winning 200 freestyle relay team, and added high marks individually. Lowell Pilliard finished runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:15.02, while Scholl posted a top-10 time in the 50-yard freestyle in 25.51.
The Tigers compete again 8 a.m. Saturday at Truman and host three more home meets in October, including the Joseph W. Arbisi Invitational 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.
Alex Agueros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @abagueros2.