Dalton High School Catamounts

February 8, 2014

DHS swimmers in shape for strong finish at state

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).”

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