Bruins’ Longo longs for state times

Last Chance meet is final shot for swimmers to qualify for state finals.
Friday, February 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:04 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rock Bridge senior Greg Longo is confident he can accomplish what he has not been able to do so far this season.

He will have his final shot at qualifying for the state finals in the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday at the Last Chance swimming meet at Hickman. The meet features the Rock Bridge and Hickman boys’ teams.

Longo, who has made state times in the event the past two years and went to the state meet last year on the 400-yard freestyle relay, has barely missed making the time this year.

“I’m pretty confident,” Longo said. “I’ve come within less than two-tenths of a second of it a couple times.”

His best is 1 minute, 6.7 seconds, and the qualifying time is 1:06.59. John Hamilton, who coaches the Rock Bridge and Hickman boys’ swimming teams, said each team has a few events where swimmers have a shot at achieving state times Saturday.

Rock Bridge is looking to make state times in the 200-yard freestyle and medley relays, something Hickman has done. Hamilton said Rock Bridge sophomore John Ludwig also has a good chance to qualify in the 100-yard freestyle.

For Hickman, junior Ryan Hallstead is seeking to qualify in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle and freshman Andrew Heath is less than one second away from qualifying in the 100-yard backstroke. Junior diver Jon Grant also has a chance at making the state meet.

“I’m pretty confident he has his degree of difficulty up to where he meets the qualifying standards,” Hamilton said. “If he’s having a good day, I think he can qualify.”

Hamilton said the goal for the Last Chance meet is to have every competitor drop time and feel good about his or her season. For a small percentage, though, it is their final opportunity to qualify for state.

Longo said that it is important for him to go to the state meet individually in his senior season, but that he is more focused on team goals.

“I might care a little bit more for the relays,” Longo said. “Just due to the fact that we have a more realistic shot at making some noise at state.”

In practice, the teams have begun to cut down on the intensity and distance of their workouts in preparation for the state meet Feb. 13-14. Hamilton said he expects this will lead to fast times.

“Saturday is always a very dramatic day,” Hamilton said.

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