2023-24 Swim Preview: Experience, depth key factors for boys; Nguyen, Jimeson set to lead young girls squad

Swimming, Winter Sports

Trey Hunter

November 27, 2023
Mustang's varsity girls and boys team members pose for a preseason photo at the Earlywine Park YMCA in Oklahoma City. The Broncos have already competed in two meets and are set for a strong 2023-24 season. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

Three years ago, Tony Evans wasn’t exactly sure about his new crop of freshmen.

Mustang’s swim coach, now entering his 12th season with the program, wondered how much they would mature before becoming juniors and seniors. However, he knew right away they would be a talented group to work with.

“It was a little iffy, but it’s incredible how much they have grown both inside the pool and out,” Evans said. “Those same kids that were messing around as freshmen are now telling our newest ninth graders not to do those things as seniors…

“They’re a great group of upperclassmen now. And they have a chance to do some things this season and improve upon what they’ve already accomplished. We’re all excited to get going.”

Mustang’s girls will be led by returning state qualifiers Brenda Nguyen (Sr.) and Jacee Jimeson (Sr.).

The senior duo combined to qualify for the Class 6A State Championship Meet last year in three individual events as well as the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays.

Nguyen took home a fourth-place medal in the 50-yard freestyle at state while also finishing 12th in the 100-yard freestyle. Jimeson took home an eighth-place medal in the 100-yard backstroke.

Both Nguyen and Jimeson helped lead the 400-yard freestyle relay team to 10th place and the 200-yard medley team to 11th.

Brenda Nguyen (Sr.) qualified for the Class 6A State Championship meet last year in four events, including two relays. She is one of two team captains for the Broncos and is expected to contend for state in multiple events once again. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

“They are the two captains and the two we expect to lead a young and upcoming squad this year,” Evans said. “They’ve both qualified for state three straight years and are going to once again be a big part of our relays. They should both qualify in two individual events as well.”

Evans said he and the staff will be concentrating on depth for the girls team, looking to fill out the three relays while figuring out spots where swimmers fit best in individual events.

Addy Padilla (So.) and Lillian Pinkerton (Jr.) also qualified for state on the 200-yard freestyle relay team last season and should be in the mix for relays and individual events again this year.

Catherine Hunter (Sr.), Cori Phelan (Sr.), Julian Hua (Jr.), Diana Aviles (Jr.), Alaina Kemp (Jr.), Keaton Brown (So.), Avery Halcomb (So.), Katelyn Perrine (So.), Aurora Grant (Fr.), and Isabella Bethel (Fr.) are among a large group of swimmers who will compete for spots in different events early in the season.

“It’s going to be fun to see who comes out of that group and steps up into those different spots left behind by the girls who graduated,” Evans said. “Depending on how they develop over the next six weeks to two months, we could have a few more girls competing to qualify for individual spots with Brenda and Jacee.”

The Mustang boys enter the season with the depth and experience the girls squad is searching for.

“I’ve been telling them since last season ended that they have a chance to be a really good group this year,” Evans said of the boys team’s outlook for 2023-24.

Mason Scott (Jr.) leads the way, coming off an outstanding sophomore campaign where he qualified for state in two individual events and all three relays. He broke his own school record in the 100-yard butterfly in Mustang’s opening meet of the season.

Gavin Davis and Parker Campbell are the team’s senior captains. Each qualified for state individually and on separate relay teams last season and are expected to compete once again in those events this year.

Seniors Austin Price and Skyler Fair are expected to also contribute on relays and have a chance to qualify for state in individual events. Ace Seck (Jr.), who qualified for state with the 200-yard medley relay team, is another swimmer who provides experience and depth.

Jacee Jimeson (Sr.) qualified for the Class 6A State Championship Meet last year in the 100-yard backstroke as well as two relays. She is one of two team captains and is expected to qualify for state in two individual events this year. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

Evans is also excited about the team’s underclassmen, including Dominic Tonn (So.), who qualified for state last year with the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams. Chase Brown (So.) and Jackson Fogt (So.) are also expected to take the next step after strong freshmen seasons.

Also, watch out for freshmen Connor McLeod and Cameron Obrien, who have come on strong early in their high school careers.

“With having a lot of depth, we’re going to be able to put three strong relays together and still have guys left over as alternates,” Evans said. “We’re really deep this year. I think as a team we have a chance to score a lot of points at state.”

Evans said he has plenty of leaders on each team, pointing to early in the offseason when he had most of the squad’s upperclassmen run different parts of practice with separate groups.

He was the only coach with around 40 swimmers on hand, so not only did it help build leadership, but it also helped for smoother workouts.

“That worked out much better than I had anticipated,” Evans said. “It helped give some of the kids some leadership experience and helped them understand that the younger kids will listen when you present it the right way. It was great for us in a lot of aspects.”

Mason Scott (Jr.) is coming off a strong sophomore campaign where he qualified for state in two individual events. He recently broke his own school record in the 100-yard butterfly in Mustang’s opening meet of the season. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

Assistant coach Kurt Koehler is back for another year on the Mustang staff. His guidance is key to the program’s success according to Evans. Another asset for the Broncos this winter.

“Coach K has been around for a while – longer than I have and I’m going into my 12th year,” Evans said. “We get along great and work really well together. I like to do the things he doesn’t like to do, and he likes to do the things I don’t like to do, so it’s a good combination.

“I wouldn’t want to attempt any of this without him. He is a gigantic part of this program and team.”

The Broncos have already competed in the Norman and Altus meets and will continue their season on Friday at the Duncan meet. They will compete in Edmond, Enid, and Stillwater to wrap up the first half of the season before returning in January for the OBU, Putnam City, and COAC meets.

The 2023 Class 6A Regional Meet is scheduled for Feb. 3 followed by the State Championship Meet Feb. 16-17.

“We just have to keep working hard and focus on our goals,” Evans said. “We’re looking for big things out of a lot of these kids as the year goes on and for the young ones to step up.

“They have done really well in both of our first two meets and are looking to keep that going before Christmas break. Our conference and schedule are loaded, so if you can compete this season, then you have a chance to go to the state swim meet.”

Published by trey hunter

Trey Hunter is the owner and publisher of the Mustang Sports Review. He graduated from Mustang High School in 2006 before graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a journalism degree in 2011. He has covered Mustang sports for multiple publications as well as high school sports and professional basketball for other outlets. Contact Trey for story ideas or reach out with information. PHONE: (405) 659-9898 EMAIL: TreyHunter1987@gmail.com

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