Bartlesville High School Athletics


Woods commits to Michigan State


CHAMPAIGN — Team chemistry was important to Payton Woods when picking a college, even though the Champaign Central senior swimmer takes part in an individual sport. In addition to Michigan State’s business school and the culture in East Lansing, Mich., that’s why Woods committed to swim for the Spartans last week. “They have great team chemistry,” Woods said. “When you’re looking for a swim team, you really need to have great team chemistry because you’re really pounding out yardage, really hard practices, and you just need guys that have the same goals as you and are there to support you.” The all-state 50-yard freestyle swimmer should be able to compete right away for the Spartans. His 50 freestyle time of 20.83 seconds as a junior would have been the top time on the Spartans’ roster last year, and Woods said he hopes to push that time to about 20 seconds this season, if not faster. He picked Michigan State after also visiting South Carolina and Division III powerhouse Kenyon College. “It was a great opportunity for me to be able to participate right away and be on a travel team and to participate eventually in Big Tens as a team,” Woods said. “The guys on the team and the coaches said I’ll be able to help out right away.” While several of the coaches who recruited Woods to other schools changed jobs during the recruiting process, this year will mark Michigan State coach Matt Gianiodis’ 12th season at the helm. “There’s stability on their coaching staff, (and) he had a great time on his visit,” said John Woods, Payton’s father and Central’s athletic director. “He still communicates with not just the current swimmers there but also several of the recruits, which I thought was really cool, so there’s already kind of a bond among the incoming class. All of those factors (were key), and going back to (the question), ‘Can you live there if something happens with swimming?’ The academic component is so strong.” Woods’ decision came about a month before the beginning of his senior season. After finishing fifth at the state meet last March in the 50 freestyle, where he’s the second-best returner from last season’s state meet, and 16th in the 100 freestyle, Woods now can put his sole focus on dropping times instead of taking college visits. “The reason I decided early is because I’ve had goals all my high school career for winning state in swimming as an individual, and I need to get back to focusing on those goals,” he said. “I think it’s time to get some pressure off of me so I can begin to focus on those goals.”