Medley relay team making swimming history at Juan Seguin

Kolby Le, Timothy Huang, D.J. Henson and Gerald Hodges represent the first Cougar swimming relay team to qualify for the State meet

  • Kolby Le, Timothy Huang, D.J. Henson and Gerald Hodges (top to bottom) make up the Juan Seguin 4 x 50-yard medley relay team that will compete in the Class 5A State swim meet this weekend at the University of Texas. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
    Kolby Le, Timothy Huang, D.J. Henson and Gerald Hodges (top to bottom) make up the Juan Seguin 4 x 50-yard medley relay team that will compete in the Class 5A State swim meet this weekend at the University of Texas. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
  • Kolby Le swims the backstroke in the opening leg of the medley relay. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
    Kolby Le swims the backstroke in the opening leg of the medley relay. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
  • Timothy Huang swims the second leg of the medley relay, the breaststroke. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
    Timothy Huang swims the second leg of the medley relay, the breaststroke. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
  • D.J. Henson swims the butterfly in the third leg of the medley relay. He also qualified for State in the 500-yard freestyle. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
    D.J. Henson swims the butterfly in the third leg of the medley relay. He also qualified for State in the 500-yard freestyle. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
  • Gerald Hodges' strong finish in the freestyle anchor leg of the Class 5A Regional Meet qualifed Juan Seguin for the State Meet. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
    Gerald Hodges' strong finish in the freestyle anchor leg of the Class 5A Regional Meet qualifed Juan Seguin for the State Meet. (Photo: Russ Rendon / Arlington Voice)
Keven Costlow

For many years, the swimming history at Juan Seguin High School didn’t take long to write.

There wasn’t much to write about.

On Thursday, the Cougar boys swim team will head to Austin for their first appearance in the Class 5A State Swim Meet. While the swimmers are understandably excited, they also know how hard they had to work to get there.

“We know the competition will be stiff,” said Seguin Coach Alex Weidemann. “We know we can set school records here, but our goal is to get a second swim and go from there.”

The excitement began two weeks ago at the Class 5A Region II swim meet in Mansfield. The Boys’ 4 x 50-yard Medley Relay was one of the Cougars’ best events, but going into the anchor leg, they were mired in sixth place.

Then senior Gerald Hodges stepped up and muscled his way into a logjam at the finish line.

At first, the results board had Seguin finishing third, but the announced final results had the Cougars finishing second and qualifying for the state meet for the first time.

“The big thing is I know I touched the wall ahead of the kid on my left,” Hodges said. “I knew I was in a good position.  I felt like I had finished second, because I had a super good finish.”

Hodges and his three teammates, backstroker Kolby Le, breaststroker Timothy Huang and butterflyer D.J. Henson all worked together to make their dream come true. But this isn’t a story of elite swimmers who cruised to an easy title.

Only a handful of Seguin’s swimmers are club swimmers, like Huang and Henson. The rest of them, well, just like swimming.

“We honestly thought our 200-yard freestyle relay would qualify for state,” said Le. “But they finished fourth and didn’t qualify.”

Henson, a senior, also qualified in the 500-yard freestyle event – the first Cougar to qualify for state in an individual race -- and is described by Weidemann as the “workhorse” of the team.

He said he couldn’t have asked for a better senior year.

“I was so thankful when they announced we were second,” Henson said. “The six years of practice and throwing all effort into this finally paid off. I was so thrilled.”

Huang, another senior, has a bit more experience than most of the swimmers, and was handed the task of swimming the breaststroke leg of the relay.

“The breaststroke is more of a finesse stroke,” he said. “I have to get my technique right, but if I’m off a bit, I can fix it during the race.”

Huang is also ranked fifth in his senior class, which earned him an opportunity to study electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. All four of the swimmers are college bound, with Henson possessing a swimming scholarship offer from Henderson State University in Arkansas.

But Weidemann is especially proud of Hodges, who admittedly had little or no swimming experience as a freshman.

A tremendous athlete, Hodges could have participated in any sport, but his mother convinced him to try swimming, telling him that, “You’re going to need your brain for the rest of your life.”

So on Thursday, the four will fulfill their dream of getting to the state meet. Hodges said the team has a protocol for trips to meets, but didn’t say if they’ll follow it that day.

“We normally are very quiet on our way to the meet,” he said. “We’re trying to stay focused on our races. We tend to get louder on the way back.”

Success has a way of doing that to you.