ST. PETERS, Mo. -- The 2012 MSHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving Championships got under way Friday with one Nevada Tigers swimmer among those in search of an individual State Championship. Jesse Claypool entered the competition as one of just five sophomores in the 44-man field for the 100-yard breaststroke.
Claypool qualified for this year's state competition in that event on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when he posted a time of 1 minute, 4.6 seconds. He went on to shave nearly a second off of that time at the Southwest Missouri Championships, taking sixth place with a time of 1:03.78 and with it, the Tigers' only district medal.
That time was good enough to make the state meet with room to spare, but still set Claypool and Tigers head swimming coach Ryan Watts up with a lot of work to do. Seeded 23rd of the 44 swimmers competing in the event, Claypool needed to shave at least another full second off of his time to be assured a slot in the finals, based on qualifying times.
Claypool and Watts both came into this year's state championships without any real expectations since they were both at the state meet for the first time, but both still thought making it through the preliminary rounds and moving on to the finals would be a great accomplishment, so neither Claypool or his coach gave up trying to improve Claypool's time as much as possible.
Claypool ultimately finished the meet's opening day doing exactly what he needed to do in order to move on, but so did nearly everyone else in the field. Claypool finished his preliminary heat with a time of 1:02.89 -- nearly 1 second better than his qualifying time -- but that time was only good enough for 23rd overall and Claypool missed the finals cut by less than 3/4 of a second.
Springfield Central's Evan Petrich posted the slowest time to move on to the finals, finishing his preliminary heat with a time of 1:02.16. The best time of the day was posted by Lee's Summit High School's Zach Knoche, who finished in 57.58 seconds -- 1.53 seconds better than his qualifying time of 59.11.
The top 16 finishers from Friday's preliminary heats are scheduled to move on to compete in the finals today, starting at 3 p.m. The top eight places in each event will be determined by the finishing order in the finals race, while the rest of the top 16 positions will be decided in a consolation race.