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Seeded fifth, Ozark’s 400 freestyle relay finishes second at SWMO Championships


Ozark’s mix of veteran Claire George and youngsters Jenabelle Justice, Katie Coleman and Brooke Guyer responded to the SWMO Championships on Monday with their best race to date in the 400 freestyle relay.

The Lady Tigers were clocked in 3:48.49, while finishing second. They entered the finals as the fifth seed, after posting a 3:53.39 in prelims.

That came out of nowhere,” George said. “But I’m not surprised because our girls are awesome and we have been working so hard all season. I’m proud of us.”

George is the relay’s lone senior. Justice is a sophomore and Coleman and Guyer are freshmen. Naturally, George is the leader of the foursome.

“It’s sad because it’s my last year. But it’s been cool to lead and get to know the girls,” said George, who swam the opening leg. “I’ve loved doing it. They’re like my little kids, I love them. I’m so excited to see what they are going to do in the next few years. I’ll come around and watch and cheer for them.”

“Claire had a great meet and had a happy attitude about everything she was doing today,” Ozark coach Steve Boyce said. “She took charge of that relay. She took that (role) on and has done a nice job with it all year.

“With three-fourths of that relay back for two more years, that’s exciting,” he added. “Jenabelle had a great third leg and Brooke exploded on the way home and had her season-best split.”

Guyer took third in the 200 IM in 2:15.49 and in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.80. In the 200 IM, the top three finishers were less than three-tenths of a second from each other.

“It’s tough when you are a freshman and the other kids have experienced it before and know what they are getting into,” Boyce said. She just outouched (at the end). But boy that was a fun race to watch.”

Ozark’s 200 medley relay of George, Guyer, Justice and Avery Johnson placed fifth in 1:57.50, while taking a full second off their prelims time.

George finished fifth in the 100 freestyle in 55.46.

Justice placed sixth in the 100 butterfly in 1:02.51.