'Peppery' senior leads Bison five girls into state
McCOOK, Neb. — The most amazing goal will never be reached for four of McCook’s five state swimmers going to Lincoln this week.
They know it.
They aren’t shy to admit it.
None of them are shy.
They appreciate it — even smiling little sis/sophomore swimmer-turned basketball talent-turned swimmer again Candace Coleman.
“A lot of athletes have goals to win Olympic medals. Ours is to beat Shayne Coleman,” juniors Mollie Tate and Becca Tietz declare while classmate Laurel Schmidt nods in agreement.
“Oh, we’ve tried,” they all four add about pursuing McCook’s senior team leader in any pool. “It’s not happening. She’s just faster than all of us.”
If you can’t beat her, join her. They don’t join Shayne’s lovefest with Dr. Pepper which could earn some endorsement deals once she begins swimming, jumping and running track for Nebraska Wesleyan University this fall.
“That’s my goal,” Shayne confirmed about the potential “Be A Pepper” commercial deal.
Shayne certainly appreciates how these four talented Bison have helped form one of McCook’s all-time fastest swimming teams.
“When I was a freshman, the rest of our team was seniors who really didn’t include me in anything,” Shayne recalled. “When they all left, I wondered what kind of team we would have.”
What McCook has is certainly a colorful, entertaining blend who will represent Bison pride at Lincoln’s Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Will they be seen on camera, sitting near stairways and trash cans like many of the swim season’s other big meets?
“They put each team in certain spots, and that’s where we often end up,” they all explained. “They even threw away our team sign once. It’s like ‘they’re from McCook, they don’t matter’.”
Oh, but they do matter because every one has made an impact on McCook’s three state-qualifying relays.
The Bison probably don’t go far without a prayer leader and team "mom” influence like Becca Tietz.
“I tend to get emotional about a lot of things, but Becca’s always calm,” Candace Coleman confirmed. “She’s like the mom of the group.”
The adventurous “kid” has to be Candace, who’s probably tougher than many adults considering she’s overcome two hip surgeries.
She’s simply been growing fast and already stands a bit taller than big sister Shayne.
“Funny thing is when you look back, Candace was actually swimming faster than me at a young age,” Shayne recalled. “A half-second here, a half-second there. Then she took a couple years off.”
“I liked basketball and I’m pretty good at it,” Candace explained. “But I think I always knew I was going to be a swimmer like Shayne.”
None of the Bison five covers other sports quite like Laurel Schmidt. She’s already been to state in 2017-18 as part of McCook’s district champion softball team last fall.
Schmidt also competes in track/field where she and Shayne will be returning Class B state qualifiers this spring.
“Every sport I’ve done at McCook (High) has been with Shayne,” Schmidt said. “It almost makes me cry. I don’t want to let her go. We still have track together.”
Shayne and all the Bison swim teammates certainly appreciates Laurel’s signature dry sense of humor besides what she brings to pools.
“She puts herself down, but she always does well and just made the honor roll,” Tate revealed. “Plus she’s so consistent. You know Laurel will put in a good time no matter what.”
Tate brings various talents to McCook High whether it’s singing, playing instruments or becoming the all-time fastest in breaststroke racing.
Together, they’ll aim to surpass last year’s Nebraska State meet performance.
They know most odds are against them while competing with so many large Class A Lincoln and Omaha schools.
Unlike every other sport, there are no class divisions for state swimming.
“We need a Class B,” they all agreed and believe McCook would probably be putting a new team championship in the trophy case.
But don’t think reality will bother them for one second.
“Our goal is to make the final round on Saturday,” they all said.
Shayne Coleman’s goal will be to make that day and perhaps take home at least one shiny price. She’s currently seeded ninth among the 100-meter freestyle qualifiers.
“I won’t be gorilla mad if I don’t bring home a medal, but it certainly is (a goal),” she concluded. “Just get to Saturday.”
Girls’ state swimming officially starts at 9 a.m. on Friday.
Besides the five girls, McCook has qualified three boys’ divers who will be featured in Thursday’s Gazette.
There are also alternates Elizabeth Barenberg, Kerrigan Burns and exhibition swimmer Kiersten Erickson making today’s trip to Lincoln (9 a.m. start Thursday).