By Anvil Welch

Globe Sports Writer

Athletes will represent Carthage and Webb City this week in the 31st MSHSAA Girls Swimming and Diving Championships at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.

The two-day meet will start at 3 p.m. today with preliminaries in the swimming events. Championship and consolation finals will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Blue Springs, which won the three relays and five individual titles, rolled up 334.5 points last season to 276.5 for runner-up St. Louis Lafayette.

Carthage, which is coached by former Lady Tiger Brittiany Nixon, has six tankers in the meet. Their events include the three relays.

Seniors Blair Cummins (backstroke), Madison McKnight (breaststroke), and Melissa Deffenbaugh (butterfly) and freshman Abby Allison (freestyle) are scheduled to compete for Carthage in the medley relay. Their qualifying time was 2:01.10.

The 200 freestyle relay team of McKnight, Deffenbaugh, Allison and Cummins qualified in 1:48.7.

The 400 free relay team of Allison, freshman Liz Mouton, sophomore Bailee Coy and Cummins qualified in 4:00.3.

McKnight also will compete in the 200 individual medley (qualifying in 2:21.4) and 100 breaststroke (1:12.8). Cummins, in addition to the relay events, plans to compete in the 100 free (57.52). Cummins also qualified in the 50 free.

"Scoring? It's hard to say until we get there and see the competition,'' Nixon said Wednesday night. "Madison (McKnight) has a chance to score in both of her individual events.

"I believe we've had a great season,'' Nixon said. "We finished second in several meets. We were third at Coffeyville. We were 13-6 in duals.

"We made considerable improvement from last season,'' Nixon said. "We had 22 girls this season after only 13 in 2005. We're losing good talent in the seniors but we should have several young people returning and several coming up."

McKnight, ranked academically in the top 10 and headed for Oklahoma State, doesn't plan to continue competitive swimming.

"She and Cummins (Brittiany's sister) have been great senior leaders," Nixon said. "A lot of the girls look up to them."

Nixon, a Pittsburg State graduate, swam at Carthage for Cindy and Sam Rogers and Melody Young.

The Webb City representative is freshman Molly Brown in the 50 free and backstroke.

Brown also qualified for the 100 and 200 freestyle events.

"Hopefully, she has a better chance of scoring in the 50 and it will give her more rest for the backstroke,'' Lady Cardinal coach Shawn Klosterman said.

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