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Bearcats at state again

Ninth straight year


(From left) Avery Faulkner, Victoria Crews, Porter Lane, Julia Gordy and Haley Roberson will be competing for Aledo at this weekend's UIL Class 5A Swimming and Diving Meet in Austin .
(From left) Avery Faulkner, Victoria Crews, Porter Lane, Julia Gordy and Haley Roberson will be competing for Aledo at this weekend's UIL Class 5A …

Aledo and Austin aren't that far apart it seems, especially if you go by way of water.

For a ninth straight season the program will have competitors in the University Interscholastic League Class 5A State Swimming and Diving Meet at the Lee & Jo Jamail Texas Swimming Center at the University of Texas Feb. 23-24.

This season there will be five representing Aledo, including three returners. Juniors Haley Roberson and Victoria Crews are back for a third time and senior Porter Lane is there for a second consecutive year.

Roberson qualified in three events, including two individually. She won the 200-yard individual medley at the Region II Meet with yet another school-record time of 2 minutes, 5.57 seconds, besting her own previous mark. She also took first in the 500 freestyle, clocking a 5:07.38.

Roberson and Crews will join junior Avery Faulkner and sophomore Julia Gordy on the regional champion 400 free relay, which also set a school record in 3:50.90.

Lane won two individual events at regionals, posting a time of 50.14 in the 100 butterfly and a 59.32 in the 100 breaststroke. His time of 59.11 seconds in the 100 breaststroke prelims set a school record.

Multiple peaks

Aledo coach Meghan Roberson said timing peak performances is challenging, but so far her swimmers have risen to the challenge twice and she believes they are ready for one more push.

"With the competitive gauntlet of district – two weeks – regionals – two weeks – state, it’s difficult to time the athletes’ peaks," she said. "And while we might aim for one to peak at district to aim for regionals, some we know will make it out of district easily, so we aim to peak at regionals to shoot for state. 

"Then we have the third category that we are confident will make it out of regionals easily and we aim to peak at state. Our state team crosses that spectrum, but I believe we have the time we need to get them as prepared as possible for performance at this next level."

Previous experience a boost

While two of the quintet are newcomers to state, coach Roberson is counting on the previous experience of the returning trio to boost the entire team. Roberson, Crews and Lane have a combined five years of previous competition at state.

"I’m relying on their leadership in the water, especially when we get to UT – the pool has quirks that are best navigated through experience," coach Roberson said. "With these three able to help the newcomers acclimate, they’ll have a leg up over those that don’t race there as often."

The coach also noted that while Faulkner is a new competitor this year, she was a part of the 2023 state team as an alternate. Last year Corah Satterfield went as a swimmer and will be the alternate this season. 

"Julia Gordy is our only true newcomer to the team, and I suspect we’ll see her on future state teams," coach Roberson said.

Continuing another tradition 

The season-ending tradition is more than just competing in Austin, coach Roberson noted.

"As this has become a part of our end of season, we’ve developed a few traditions that we’re excited to introduce Julia to: The pre-state stop at Bucee's, the hole in the wall best bagel place, and the team atmosphere," coach Roberson said. "There’s nothing like a travel competition to bring a team together. It’s as much about the competition as it is about making these high school memories together.

"They won’t call each other in 10 years to re-hash the races, but they will talk about the shared experiences."

Earning their way in more ways than one

While it does ultimately come down to their performance in the water, swimmers from Aledo face a challenge competitors in other places do not. Most notably, they do not have a natatorium in their backyard, so they have to travel to Fort Worth each morning for practice before the school day begins.

"Swimmers at most schools just practice in the pool next to or down the road from their high school. Without an appropriate competition pool in Parker County, when my swimmers make the choice to take part in Aledo swimming, they are agreeing to wake up and meet the bus in the parking lot at 5:30 in the morning," coach Roberson said. "We have a 30-minute commute to the Wilkerson Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth where they practice for between one and a half to two hours, then they get ready for school and get back on the bus at 8:30 to make it back in time for second period. 

"Then we have swimmers like Avery Faulkner, who is also heavily involved with the Leodian and is taking two AP math courses this year ,which doesn’t allow her the swim period. Avery wakes up as early as the rest, drives herself the 25-plus miles into practice most days of the week, then heads back to school in time for the first period of the day."

Coach Roberson said that many team members will also head to back to the same pool to practice club from 5-7 p.m. In all, they spend close to 20 hours in the water each week, she said.

Additionally, most of the swimmers carry an intense academic load of advanced/preAP, AP and OnRamps courses, working on homework late into the night, only to wake up and do it all over again. 

"These high schoolers and their parents take on an intense schedule and are incredibly dedicated to the sport to be as successful as they are," she said. "And while I’m sure they’d all love to enjoy a typical teenager sleep-in - or even just a regular school day - there are rarely complaints over anything but how cold the bus is in the morning."


Roberson comes into the state meet seeded No. 3 in the 200 IM and No. 6 in the 500 free. Lane is No. 5 in the 100 butterfly and 14th in the 100 breaststroke.

The girls 400 free relay is seeded 22nd.

The top eight in preliminaries advance to the A finals on Saturday, with spots 9-16 making B finals.

"This group of swimmers are incredible athletes, but they’re also students that Aledo should be proud to have represent us. They feel the support of the community behind them and are going to fight to put forth their best performances yet on this huge stage," coach Roberson said. "We speak about the examples they are for our younger Bearcats and the ripple effect of their successes to help build this program into a better version year over year, they’re excited to show what they can do."


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