By Chris Goltermann
Four Coweta County schools made the final turn toward the end of the 2018-19 high school swimming season on Friday while competing in the annual Laps of Love meet at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center in LaGrange.
East Coweta led local efforts at the 16-team meet, placing second overall behind Columbus, 633-540, after both girls and boys lineups put together top-three scoring efforts in respective divisions.
The Lady Indians scored 300 points, just 31 points behind girls champion Columbus. The boys team finished behind both Columbus and Northside-Columbus, but still managed to add to East Coweta’s list of state qualifiers in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Seniors Evan Hirsh and William Yang joined Caleb and Jacob Neece in earning a state mark of 1:39.88 to squeak under the needed state qualifying time of 1:40. The foursome was also third in the 200 medley relay.
East Coweta now has 16 athletes that will advance to the GHSA Class 6A-7A State Preliminaries at Georgia Tech on Friday, Feb. 8, with the finals set for Feb. 9.
County swimmers will still have a final chance to make additional cuts to season-best times on Wednesday at the annual Coweta Championship Meet at the Summit YMCA. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m.
All four local schools scored at least 150 points with efforts by Northgate and Newnan that placed in the top-10.
Northgate was fourth overall with 371 points, led by a strong effort by its girls, to finish just 10 behind third-place Eastside (381) and 10 ahead of fifth-place Northside-Columbus (361). Brookstone was sixth overall with 343 points.
The Lady Vikings put together 284 points of Northgate’s to finish third in their division, just 16 behind East Coweta’s girls.
Northgate’s boys were without state qualifier T.J. Pittenger, who already had advanced in seven of a possible nine individual events. Athletes can only swim in a maximum of two individual events at the GHSA meet.
Newnan was seventh overall with 285 points ahead of Troup (268), Harris County (222) and LaGrange (193). The Cougars had 163 of Newnan’s total, just ahead of the Lady Cougars’ 122.
Trinity Christian teams combined to place 11th with 156 points. The effort was capped off by a victory from the Lions in the 400 freestyle relay in 4:04.45 that included split times from Brian Schermerhorn, Jason Marx, Chase Roosen and Nathan Moore.
East Coweta and Northgate both had individual first-place finishers.
The Lady Indians were led by victories by Lindsay Eggen in the 100 butterfly (1:05.64) and Summer How in the 50 freestyle, where she posted a season-best time of 25.92.
Eggen also took second in the 200 IM with a season-best of 2:35.50 behind Columbus swimmer Madigan Starr. How also added a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke in 1:16.62.
Both Lady Indians swimmers were also on a second-place 200 medley and freestyle relay with teammates Erica Lee and Christina Cuevas, having already qualified for the state meet in both events.
Lee was also sixth in the 50 freestyle and Cuevas placed second in the 100 backstroke in 1:11.31.
East Coweta’s girls also received strong efforts from senior Kristen Odum, who was third in the 100 freestyle with a season-best of 1:03.71. She was also 13th in the 50 freestyle.
Belle Lea also scored for the Lady Indians in the 100 freestyle, placing sixth (1:06.25) in addition to finishing in the top 20 of the 50 freestyle. Caroline Zueck scored in the 100 backstroke for East Coweta with a 10th-place effort while Katilin Williams was ninth in the 100 freestyle.
Northgate freshman Ashley Bratcher held on to win the event in a 1-2 finish with Cuevas at 1:11.06, while also joining boys teammate Alex Wathen for a sweep of girls and boys 100 backstroke events.
Wathen led the boys 100 backstroke for the Vikings in 1:08.52, while also placing fourth in the 100 butterfly (1:04.84). Top performers for Northgate’s boys also included Zachary Barineau, who placed fourth in the 200 IM (2:41.37).
For the Lady Vikings, Bratcher also placed fifth among girls swimmers in the 50 freestyle with a season-best of 27.26, in addition to competing on a fourth-place 200 freestyle relay with Lady Vikings teammates Jenna Webb, Jade Takvorian and Skylar Reifschneider.
Takvorian also scored in both individual events for Northgate’s girls, placing third in the 100 breaststroke with a season-best 1:17.34. She also finished eighth in the 50 freestyle (27.88).
Reifschneider was on three scoring relays for the Lady Vikings while also second individually in the 100 freestyle with a season-best of 1:02.52. Northgate’s girls also were third in the 400 freestyle relay, as Reifschneider and Webb teamed with Christina Reagan and Abby Collins.
Individually Collins also was third in the 200 freestyle as the top local girls finisher at 2:30.33. The sophomore placed fourth in the 500 freestyle, ahead of Reagan, who also scored for the Lady Vikings by placing seventh in the event.
Northgate’s girls also received a fifth-place finish from Sarah Cutts in the 200 IM, while also scoring for the Lady Vikings in the 100 backstroke (11th).
East Coweta’s boys were steady with at least six individual performances that placed third or better in addition to its state-time in the 200 freestyle relay.
Along with 200 medley and freestyle relay efforts, the Indians placed second behind Trinity in the 400 freestyle with a team of Oran Hurst, Jared Taber, Noah Watson and Sebastian Menendez Mancilla.
Jacob Neece led individual placers for East Coweta’s boys, finishing second behind Northgate’s Wathen in the 100 backstroke (1:12.84).
Hirsh had a pair of third-place efforts for the Indians in the 50 freestyle (23.67) and the 100 freestyle (53.97), where he had a season-best time.
Caleb Neece was third in the 200 freestyle (2:14.24) and sixth in the 100 freestyle with a season-best of 58.69.
Third-place efforts for East Coweta’s boys also came from Hurst in the 500 freestyle (6:06.19) and Yang in the 100 breaststroke on a season-best of 1:12.38.
Top-five efforts also included eighth-grader Justin Smoak’s fifth-place finish in the 100 butterfly (1:08.05), while Jared Taber and Menendez Mancilla were both top-20 finishers in the 100 freestyle.
Along with its relay victory in the 400 freestyle, Trinity’s boys also were seventh in the 200 freestyle.
Individually, Nathan Moore led the Lions, placing in the 100 breaststroke in 1:11.27. He was also 20th in the 50 freestyle,
Schermerhorn also gave Trinity a second scorer in both events, placing fifth in the 100 breaststroke with a season-best of 1:14.25 and 23rd in the 50 freestyle.
Individual scorers for the Lions also included Roosen (11th, 100 freestyle, 11th 100 breaststroke) and Marx (19th, 100 freestyle).
The Lady Lions were led by Reagan Rice, who placed seventh in the 100 breaststroke with a season-best of 1:31.50. She was also 16th in the 100 freestyle.
A relay of Maddie Donnelly, Alaina Castellow, Aprilia Holt and Rice placed 12th in the 200 medley and 15th in the 200 freestyle.
Newnan’s girls were led by Jordan Young’s sixth-place finish in the 200 IM. Among Lady Cougars that scored were Lani Roth (12th, 200 freestyle), Emily Wheeler (16th, 200 freestyle), Alex Schlottman (10th 100 butterfly, 12th 500 freestyle) and Ella Devers (10th, 500 freestyle).
Scorers for Newnan’s boys included, Jaxxon Jessup (7th, 100 butterfly, 6th 100 backstroke), Yannick Powder (8th, 100 butterfly, 7th 100 backstroke), Justin Young (8th, 200 freestyle), Moises Lopez (9th 200 freestyle) and Lee Stone (8th 200 IM, 9th, 500 freestyle).