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Hawks' Morrell prepares for water adventure

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It seems only fitting that a standout swimmer would choose the U.S. Naval Academy for college.

Such has been the case for Volcano Vista senior Olivia Morrell, who will join the Midshipmen in the fall. Before she heads off to Annapolis, Md., however, Morrell has some unfinished business.


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The NMAA State Swimming & Diving Championships kick off with preliminaries today and the finals Saturday, starting at 11:30 a.m., at the Albuquerque Academy Natatorium.

State swimming, diving meet: Albuquerque Academy, prelims 3 p.m., diving 8:30 a.m.

“Definitely I’m nervous for sure,” Morrell said. “I’m really excited. I know this has been an interesting season, a lot of changes for me, so I’m excited to see what happens at state. I think it’s going to be a good year. It’s my last one, so I’m going to have fun with it, see what happens.”

Morrell said those changes have mostly been away from her high school team.

“I switched (club) teams; I used to swim for Fast, so now I swim for Lobo,” Morrell said. “So that’s been a huge change for me in training. I did a lot of traveling this year for college visits, so I missed some training. It’s definitely been a rough season, but at the same time I learned a lot of new training and new technique work, which I feel should be really beneficial.”

Morrell is a state contender in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races. In the 100, she’ll have to contend with Albuquerque Academy superstar Anika Apostalon, who has the fastest qualifying time (by far) in that event.

But Morrell posted the quickest time of the season in the 50 (24.29 seconds) at the APS Metro Championships on Jan. 19.

“I think that’s definitely something I love about it is that it is so quick,” Morrell said of her events. “There are so many variables. If you have an off-day in the 50, that’s really tough for me. There are certain aspects of sprinting that are less challenging in the training compared to a distance workout. But at the same time, when it comes to a race, the 50 and 100 are the hardest for me. I really like the challenge.”

Overall, the Hawks do not loom as a threat to the traditional powers like Albuquerque Academy, La Cueva and Eldorado, but Morrell said not to count them out completely.

“I think as far as competing for a top-three spot, we have a ways to go,” Morrell said. “(But) we’re always going to work for it and swim our best.”

Eldorado (34), La Cueva (32) and Academy (29) have the largest contingents at state.

♦ Other metro-area athletes to watch include: Albuquerque High sophomore Cassaundra Pino, who has the top qualifying time in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly (she is the state-record holder in the fly); La Cueva junior Stephen Klein, the No. 1-ranked qualifier in the 200 IM and 100 free; Bears junior Nika Fellows, who could take both the 200 free and 500 free distance races for the girls; Rio Rancho sophomore Luis Felipe Conejo, who should be a contender in the 200 IM and 500 free; La Cueva junior Kristopher Tillery, who has a chance for wins in the 200 free and 100 back; and the Chargers’ Apostalon, who in addition to the 100 free will be a threat to win the 100 back.

SCHEDULE: Today, swimming prelims begin at 3 p.m., diving at 8:30 a.m. Swimming and diving finals begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday – except girls diving, which runs 8:15-9:15 a.m.

Hawks’ Morrell prepares for water adventure

— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal