State’s best swimmers in Sulphur for LHSAA swim meet

SULPHUR — Barbe’s Natalie Stump and Sulphur’s Sydney Weidner have been friends for eight years and train together, but when the LHSAA state swim meet kickoffs today, they will be rivals.

“It is fun competing against her,” Weidner said. “We do it a lot, so we are used to it right now.

“I definitely think we bring the best out in each other.”

At last year’s state meet, Weidner was seeded No. 1 in the 200 yard freestyle, but Stump, then a freshman, surprised her by touching the wall in 1:56.22 to win her first state championship.

“It did hurt getting second last year, so I am really hoping I can pull out a win this year,” Weidner said. “I am really excited.

“I have trained really hard this year, so I am just excited to see where I am at and how much I have improved.”

This year Weidner, a junior, is once again ahead of Stump at 1:57.21. Stump’s seeded time is 1:58.01, but she is hoping to match or better her state time last year.

“It is going to be a good race,” Stump said. “I am hoping to beat my time from last year, because I haven’t made that time since last year.

“I feel a little pressure. Everyone wants me to get first. I am feeling pretty confident.”

The two have meet only once this season in the 200. Two weeks ago at the Top-24 meet in Lafayette, Stump and Weidner placed second and third behind Ascension Episcopal’s Jillian Barczyk, the defending Division IV 200 and 500 freestyle champion.

Stump has a chance at two gold medals this year. She is seeded second in the 500 freestyle (5:14.09).

“Throughout the summer, I worked pretty hard,” Stump said. “My distance got better.

“I dropped time in the 800 and the 400, so I am pretty sure I am going to drop time in my 500 and 200.”

Weidner is seeded fifth in the 100 freestyle (56.71).

The state meet will kickoff today at the SPAR Aquatic Center with the Division III prelims at 10 a.m. followed by Division IV at 4 p.m. The Division III finals will start at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and Division IV at 3 p.m.

Friday will open with the Division I prelims at 10 a.m. and Division II at 4 p.m.

On Saturday, the Division I finals will start at 9:30 a.m. and the Division II finals, starting at 3 p.m., will wrap up the state meet.

Other locals seeded in the top-10 in Division I are Barbe’s Cameron Hinton (500 free) and Sulphur’s Chase Fontenot (200 free, 100 backstroke).

Last year James Whitehouse held lead Sam Houston to a third place finish in the Division II 200 freestyle relay and fourth in the 200 medley relay. This year, the junior is looking to make Saturday’s finals in 50 freestyle. He enters with a seed time of 23.83 seconds.

For the Sam Houston girls, Allison Hull is back after a solid freshman season. She finished 11th at state in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, but has knocked nearly three seconds off her 100 butterfly time and is seeded seventh at 1:06.70. She is also seeded seventh in the 50 (26.87).

The St. Louis boys finished third last year, ending a string of two consecutive Division III state championships.

The Saints are led by senior Phillip Rue and sophomore Mason Schlang this year. Schlang seeded in the top five in the 100 breaststroke (56.90) and 200 individual medley (1:05.24).

Rue is the No. 5 seed in the 50 freestyle (23.56) and will also swim in the 100 freestyle. Rue placed eighth in the 50 and the 100 last year.

‘It is fun competing against her. We do it a lot, so we are used to it right now.’

Sulphur’s Sydney Weidner

Speaking of her rivalry with Barbe’s Natalie Stump

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In this file photo from 2017, Barbe’s Natalie Stump competes in the girls 500-yard freestyle at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Division I State Swimming Championship Saturday the at Sulphur Parks and Recreation Aquatic Center. Stump won the 200 free.

RickHickmanPhotographer
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