February 8, 2014

DHS swimmers in shape for strong finish at state

Devin Golden

— Dalton High School swimmers Taylor Mathis and Ethan Young have won event state titles before.

Each has the chance to win four more today at the GHSA Class A-5A state swimming and diving championships.

Both are part of the Catamounts’ boys 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that will compete in the A finals at Georgia Tech. Mathis, a senior, and Young, a sophomore, can bring home two there — with the help of teammates — and will swim against one another, among others, for the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke championships.

Preliminaries for all swimming events were held Friday, a day after the diving preliminaries and finals. The top eight times in each event earned spots in the A final, and ninth through 16th will swim in the B final. Those in the A final can earn anywhere from 11 to 20 points for their teams, and those in the B final can earn anywhere from one to nine points. For relays, the points are on the same scale but doubled.

“I think we’ll be a top-five team, maybe top-four,” Dalton coach Charles Todd said, noting there are 113 teams represented in the Class A-5A boys meet.

The 200 medley relay, which includes senior Austin Richard and sophomore Tanner Storey, finished third in 1 minute, 37.40 seconds in the preliminaries. The 400 freestyle relay, which includes freshman Sean Lee and junior Alan Trejo, finished sixth in 3:19.

Last season, Mathis and Young joined Taylor Dale and Pierson Scarborough — who have since graduated — in accounting for all of Dalton’s 192 team points on the way to the team championship. Dale and Mathis finished first and second in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke.

The foursome won the 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay, breaking the state record in the latter with a time of 1 minute, 32.93 seconds.

Young’s 49.58 time on Friday was good for second in the 100 butterfly preliminary, where Mathis finished eighth in 52.70. Young’s 47.85 in the 100 backstroke preliminary not only was the fastest at the event but also broke the state record. Mathis finished fourth in 51.67.

“Those two can score some big points for us right there,” Todd said.

Other local swimmers competed on Friday but missed out on the finals despite exceptional performances by their personal standards. Lee, Storey and Trejo joined junior Sam Reeves in the 200 freestyle relay with an 18th-place finish in 1:33.09. Trejo swam two other events (200 freestyle, 23rd, 1:50.04; 500 freestyle, 20th, 4:57.93), while Storey swam the 100 backstroke (27th, 57.20) and Richard swam the 100 breaststroke (35th, 1:05.34).

“The kids stepped up and swam big,” Todd said. “Every swimmer from Dalton High had best times today.”

In girls competition, Coahulla Creek’s Kathryn Stafford became the first swimmer in the 3-year-old school’s history to compete at the state meet. The junior’s 1:03.19 time in the 100 backstroke was good for 29th place, two spots better than her seed. She also bested her state qualifying time of 1:04.29.

“It was a really good experience,” Stafford said. “I shaved a second, but I wanted to go faster because I wanted to make it to finals. ... I know what to expect and prepare for now.”

Northwest Whitfield’s boys 200 freestyle relay team of Lane Bramblett, Matthew Pipkin, Michael Pipkin and Triston Smith were 59th in 1:40.01. Matthew Pipkin, a senior, also swam the 50 freestyle and was 29th in 22.94. Northwest’s girls 200 freestyle relay team of Marlee Bingham, Ana Hannah, Dala Hufstetler and Macie Maret were 47th in 1:51.85.

“This was our best season ever,” Northwest coach Marta Hannah said. “Not only did we (qualify) boys and girls swimmers (for state) but also had a diver (Triston Smith). Matthew Pipkin was seeded 40th in the 50 freestyle and finished 29th. And he broke his own personal record. You couldn’t ask for more from the swimmers.

“Hopefully, next year we will have someone (make the finals).”


Southeast Whitfield girls 55, LaFayette 46: Cricket Wyatt led the Lady Raiders (16-9, 5-5 Sub-region 7B-4A) with 12 points as they closed their league and regular-season schedules with a road win. Judelle Herrera added 10 points, while Wendy Perez grabbed 17 rebounds.

Southeast enters the Region 7-4A tournament as 7B’s No. 3 seed and will play 7A’s No. 2 seed at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a spot in the Class 4A state tournament on the line.

LaFayette boys 77, Southeast 58: Rhett Harper scored 23 points and had six assists and eight rebounds to lead the Raiders (6-19, 2-8 Sub-region 7B-4A), but LaFayette ran away from Southeast in the second half.

The teams were tied 31-31 at the end of the first, but Tyler Shropshire scored 17 points in the second half and sparked the Ramblers’ second-half surge. Shropshire finished with 28 points.

Chaz Payne and Ty Pendley each scored 10 points for the Raiders, who finished as the sub-region’s fifth seed and will play sixth-seeded Ridgeland at 4:30 p.m. today at Cass High School in Cartersville as the Region 7-4A tournament begins.

Excel Christian girls 58, Christian Heritage 55 (OT): Drew Tipton led the Lady Lions (3-22, 1-11) with 18 points — including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime — in their final Sub-region 6A-A contest as they closed the regular season.

Sarah Massengale added 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven steals for Christian Heritage — which led 28-18 at halftime and 35-30 entering the final period — while Alexis Poag helped with eight points.

The Region 6-A tournament begins Monday, but Lady Lions coach Heather Lowery doesn’t yet know her team’s seed.

Coahulla Creek boys 92, Gordon Central 63: J.R. Laird scored 19 points to lead the Colts (9-15, 4-9 Region 5-3A) on senior night. Dee McCord added 17 points, Levi Wilson finished with 16 and Hunter Williams had 12.

Coahulla Creek turned a 16-16 tie after one quarter of play to a 43-29 halftime lead and a 63-43 lead entering the last quarter. The Colts finish the regular season today with a region game at Adairsville. The Region 5-3A tournament begins Wednesday at Cartersville High School.

Gordon Central girls 62, Coahulla Creek 50: Bethany Goodwin led the Lady Colts (7-17, 4-9 Region 5-3A) with 18 points, and Haley Reece added 14 points. Nikki Ross tallied 11 rebounds.

Gordon Central held Coahulla Creek scoreless in the first quarter and led 30-17 at halftime.

Cartersville boys 72, North Murray 34: The Mountaineers (14-10, 6-8 Region 5-3A) played the first-place team in the league to a 13-13 tie through one quarter.

However, Cartersville built a 33-21 halftime cushion and a 47-28 lead with one quarter to play.

Drake McCowan scored 10 points to lead North Murray, which holds the fifth seed for the region tournament and plays Gordon Central at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first round. Noah Allen scored six points.

Cartersville girls 68, North Murray 45: Kara Deal and Erin Robinson each scored 11 points for the Lady Mountaineers, while Megan Pittman tallied eight points in the regular-season finale.

North Murray (10-15, 4-9 Region 5-3A) led 14-11 when the first quarter ended, but the game was tied at 22 at halftime and Cartersville led 44-34 entering the final quarter.

• Results from Christian Heri-tage’s boys game against Excel Christian were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.


Dalton boys 2, Lassiter 0: Isai Hernandez scored in the 24th minute with an assist from Pepe Gardea as the Catamounts won a scrimmage at Harmon Field. Javier Rodriguez made it a two-goal lead in the 58th minute with an assist from Luis Vecerra.

Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said the Cats, who won the Class 4A state title last season, controlled the game and held their opponents without a shot on goal. Dalton took 15 shots on goal.

Lassiter finished 18-1 in Class 6A and lost in the first round of the state tournament last season after holding a No. 1 ranking in the classification in the eurosportscoreboard.com poll.


• Five local wrestlers earned spots in the state tournament with their performance at the Class 4A West sectional Friday at Fayette County High School.

Dalton’s Dylan Carlile (132) and Sidney Wheeler (182) each won their only two matches of the day and will advance to state regardless of what happens today at the tournament.

Southeast’s Omar Ruiz (120) and Austin Allen (182) also each won their only two matches and earned spots in the state tournament. Like Carlile and Wheeler, they are in the sectional semifinals.

Southeast’s Tyler Brown (145) won his first match but lost his second and must win today before losing two matches to advance to state. The Raiders’ Dylan Burch (152) lost twice and was eliminated from the postseason.

Northwest’s Blake Hayes (113) won his only two matches and earned a spot at state. The Bruins’ other six sectional qualifiers — Bryan Gembe (106), Justin Palmer (120), Austin Taylor (152), Jordan Pittman (170), Jordan Lewis (195) and Michael Robles (285) — split their two matches and must win once today before losing twice to qualify for state.

Sectional qualifiers from other locals schools will compete today, with Morris Innovative and Murray County at the Class 2A West sectional at Bremen High School and Coahulla Creek and North Murray at the Class 3A West sectional at Sonoraville High School.

Wrestlers who finish in the top half of their field at sectional events advance to next week’s state tournament in Duluth.