By Devin Golden
Each of the four local high school swimming programs are looking for different things from the 2013-2014 season.
Dalton hopes to defend its boys Class A-5A swimming and diving state championship.
Northwest Whitfield wants more people going to the state meet come February.
Coahulla Creek wants its first state qualifier.
And Southeast Whitfield just wants to dive in during its inaugural season.
Three of those teams — Coahulla Creek, Dalton and Northwest — were at the Battle of Dalton swim meet Saturday at Dalton High School’s pool. Also competing were Calhoun, Cleveland, Tenn., and Woodland-Bartow.
Dalton’s boys, which won last year’s state championship, won with 438 points, followed by Northwest (371), Coahulla Creek (285), Woodland (275), Calhoun (187) and Cleveland (178). The Dalton and Northwest girls teams tied for first with 387 points, followed by Woodland (351), Coahulla Creek (305), Calhoun (179) and Cleveland (53).
The Catamounts have two big holes to fill this season after graduating Taylor Dale and Pierson Scarborough. Both were on last year’s state title-winning 400-yard freestyle and 200 medley relay teams. Dale also won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke state titles.
“I think the biggest thing right now is stepping up and seeing where we’re at,” said Ethan Young, a sophomore. “At this point, anything looks possible. It’ll just come down to how much each individual puts in. As far as if we can win state, I think we can.”
Also returning from those relays is senior Taylor Mathis. Austin Richard, a senior, will compete with freshman Sean Lee for one of the breaststroke spots. Alan Trejo and Sam Reeves, both juniors, could fill the open butterfly spot. Young, Richard, Trejo and Austin McCanless won the 200 medley relay Saturday in 1 minutes, 45.85 seconds.
“It’s going to come down to who is training and who is sacrificing time and energy,” Dalton coach Charles Todd said. “We should be in the hunt (for another title).”
Todd said his program received a participation boost from winning the state title, which helped the girls program. Nineve Arriola, a junior this season, qualified in the 100 backstroke. The only other state qualifier last year was diver Susan Meinders, who graduated.
“I’m trying to get more girls to qualify,” Todd said.
The Georgia High School Association designates qualifying times for each event, and relay teams and individuals can qualify for state by matching that time.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Marlee Bingham, Ana Hannah, Dala Hufstetler and Macie Maret was Northwest’s first female team or individual to qualify for state. Matthew Pipkin, a senior, qualified for the 50 and 100 freestyle events as an individual on the boys side and joined Ellison Beard, Chandler Rickett and Triston Smith as a 200 freestyle relay group that qualified.
The girls relay returns all four swimmers for their senior years. Only Pipkin and Smith return from the boys foursome.
“This should be a good year for (the girls),” Northwest coach Marta Hannah said.
Maret and Binggam also look to qualify in the 50 freestyle, and Ana Hannah and Hufstetler could do the same in the 100 breaststroke. Those four are the same group for the 400 freestyle, which Bingham said also is a possible state-qualifying event.
“We want to qualify for the 200 freestyle relay before Christmas,” Bingham said, “so afterward we can focus on the 400 freestyle. ... I also want to make it as an individual in my 50 freestyle. It’s my senior year, so it’s time to go big or go home.”
Coahulla Creek never has advanced a swimmer to the state meet — mostly because last year was the first season for the program. Coach Todd Ogas said there were around 25 swimmers total last season and the program added 10 swimmers and lost no one.
“I want it to grow each year,” Ogas said. “I was expecting 30 or 35 kids. We had a lot of interest and sort of brought it down to 30 or 35 kids who are really interested.”
Ogas added the bar is set at celebrating one swimmer qualifying for the state meet. Kathryn Stafford, a junior, “has a good shot in the 100 backstroke,” Ogas said.
“She’s probably our most dominant swimmer,” he said. “In the guys, I don’t have a standout swimmer yet as far as individuals. I expect our 200 medley relay (Alex Jarjoura, Macavan Kalafut, Griffin Zeigler and either Eric Zock or Isaac Elrod) to make it. Our goal is for those guys to make it.”
Stafford won Saturday’s 100 freestyle in 1:02.27 — the only win for Coahulla Creek — and said she was “about a second away” from qualifying last season in the 100 backstroke.
“I hope I make it this year,” she said.
Southeast is the newest local program and will join Coahulla Creek and Northwest in renting Dalton’s pool — the only local one available — for practices. Carol Clayton, the program’s coach, said there are 19 total swimmers on the rosters for this season.
“My expectations are for all my swimmers to improve from the beginning of the year,” she said.
Other Dalton boys winners from Saturday’s meet were: Trejo, Reeves, Lee and Young (400 freestyle relay, 3:49.54); Mathis (100 breaststroke, 1:05.24); Trejo (200 freestyle, 1:59.26; 500 freestyle, 5:21.33); and Young (100 butterfly, 53.22; 100 backstroke, 52.67).
Dalton’s girls winners were: Arriola, Romina Mendoza, Laura Shaheen and Allison Pourquoi (400 freestyle relay, 4:41.85); Arriola (200 freestyle, 2:14.42; 100 backstroke, 1:06.59); and Mendoza (100 breaststroke, 1:24)
Northwest’s other girls winners were: Hufstetler, Daniela Hannah, Maret and Bingham (200 medley relay, 2:11.41); Ana Hannah (500 freestyle, 6:33.22); Bingham (50 freestyle, 28.0); Chae Cunningham (diving, 152.15); Daniela Hannah (200 individual medley, 2:40.22); and Maret (100 butterfly, 1:12.70).
Northwest’s boys winners were: Smith, Alexander Spivey, Makray Kyer and Pipkin (200 freestyle relay, 1:45.23); Pipkin (50 freestyle, 23.78); and Smith (diving, 170.35).