Highlands Hurricanes compete at CAT Invitational

Plateau area swimmers on the Highlands Hurricanes swim team (HHST) competed in the Clemson Aquatics Team (CAT) Invitational for the second year in a row at Clemson University on Jan. 17-20.

Hurricane Head Coach Steve Hott said the team swam well.

“All 13 swimmers who participated had at least one PR (personal record),” said Hott. “This is a mid- season meet, and we came in tired (deliberately) as we are preparing for other end of season championship meets.”

Hott added the maximum number of events an individual swimmer could enter at the CAT invitational was seven. The Hurricanes racked up a total of 52 PR’s.

Hurricane Peyton Kaylor at the CAT Invitational.

Both Blake Kenter and Justin Powell had seven PR´s. Chase Kenter had little competition and won seven events and set one PR. Mark Gross had six PR´s. Elias McKim and Timmy McDowell had five PR´s. Jelehna and Aniah McKim, Peyton Kaylor, and Max Jestin had four PR´s. Layla Babac had three PR´s in six swims. Zander Coward had two PR´s in six swims. Elise Remery had two PR´s in three swims.

Hott said that with so many PR’s it was difficult to choose the most impressive swim.

“There were so many outstanding swims in those 52 PR´s it is hard to pick the most outstanding, but here are five that stand out,” said Hott. “Max Jestin dropped 14 seconds off his 50-yard free time and 22 seconds off his 100-yard free time. Peyton Kaylor dropped 22 seconds off his 100-yard breastroke time and 42 seconds off of his 200-yard freestyle time. Timmy McDowell dropped 40 seconds off his 500-yard free time.”

Hurricane Justin Powell doing the backstroke.

Assistant Coach Jordan Kenter said that the Hurricanes are working hard and doing well in all aspects of larger competitions like this one at Clemson.

“There are lots of different ways to define success in a meet, it’s not just about first place ribbons,” said Kenter. “Having swimmers who cut time, achieve a new time standard, complete a race for a first time, or do not get disqualified in a difficult race could all be defined as evidence of success. That being said, the Hurricanes performed very well across the entire spectrum in elevated USA Swimming competition in Clemson. Every swimmer had at least one best time, and several swimmers achieved new time standards and qualified for bigger events.”

Kenter added that regarding race performance, Chase Kenter led the way with 1st place finishes in all of his races and achieved a new time standard in his 50-yard breaststroke.

“He (Chase) had one best time (50-yard breaststroke), but all of his swims were close to his best times,” he said. “Aniah McKim performed well with a 2nd and three 4th-place finishes as well as having four personal best times and achieving two-time standard improvements. Blake Kenter and Justin Powell both had Junior Olympic qualifying swims at the meet. Mark Gross had four-time standard improvements. Peyton Kaylor completed the difficult 100-yard butterfly for the first time and Max Jestin dropped 14 seconds in his 50-yard freestyle, 22 seconds in his 100-yard freestyle and 7 seconds in his 50-yard breaststroke. Peyton also had the biggest single race improvement when he dropped over 42 seconds in his 200-yard freestyle race. Timmy McDowell also dropped over 40 seconds off his 500-yard free style time.”

Hurricane Chase Kenter at the CAT Invitational.

Kenter said this meet is proof of HHST’s commitment to train and prepare for competitions.

“Overall the team did very well; everyone’s hard work is really paying off,” Kenter said.

Hott said it was fun taking HHST to compete in Clemson.

“I was one of the head assistant coaches/assistant coaches for CAT in the late 70s and early 80s while I was a student at Clemson University,” he said. “This was when CAT had just started. The Fike Recreation Center pool is one of the four pools that I have spent more time at than any others: two of them are in Pennsylvania and one is in N.C. It is indeed fun to take a team there and see how CAT has grown and have the Hurricanes race in that facility.”

Hurricane Jelehna McKim at the CAT Invitational.

HHST will be participating in the N.C. State Championships in Greensboro Feb. 15-16. At this time, only Chase Kenter has qualified for N.C. State Championships.  The top swimmers will travel to Charlotte for the Tar Heel State meet in March. The Hurricanes plan to host a home invitational meet in April before taking most of May off.  Summer season will begin the Tuesday after Memorial Day.

Elias McKim competes in freestyle at the CAT Invitational.

Justin Powell is ready to get down to business at the CAT Invitational.

Justin and Jackie Powell, and Jordan Kenter at the CAT Invitational.

Hurricanes Jelehna and Elias McKim talk strategy.

Hurricanes Coach Steve Hott chats with Peyton Kaylor after a race.

Hurricane Max Jestin competes in the backstroke.

Article and photos by Kristy McCall
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