Almost each way you enter the city now, there’s a reminder of Dalton High School’s athletic success this season.
Three new signs have been placed around the city commemorating the Catamounts’ state championship boys soccer and swimming and diving teams. Two are on Chattanooga Road and Walnut Avenue just east of Interstate 75, and the third is on Chatsworth Highway coming west before reaching Airport Road.
The signs are red with white letters that read “Home of the State Champion Dalton Catamounts” at the top. At the bottom, they provide the school year and read “AAAA Boys Soccer” plus “A-AAAAA Boys Swimming.”
Dalton Public Works Director Benny Dunn said the initial request for the signs came from the high school and the signs were placed around a week and a half ago. He said each sign cost the city about $125, and Dalton Public Works made them by cutting out the aluminum panels and then placing the computer-made red and white film letters on the panels before placing them in the ground.
Mayor David Pennington said he isn’t sure if the city has done this for previous Dalton High School state title teams — which includes the 2003 boys soccer team and 2004 boys golf team — but knows other cities recognize their student-athletes’ accomplishments in similar fashion.
“We held it up for a little while longer because the golf teams were in the state championship, too,” Pennington said. “We would’ve had to get a billboard if they won it, but we just wanted to honor the teams like most cities do.”
The girls golf team finished third at last month’s state tournament, while the boys finished seventh.
“The plan was to look at it once the swimming team won it,” Pennington said. “We knew our soccer team was going to be really good, so when we had the plans we wanted to make sure the school year was over with and we got all the champions that we could.”
Dalton’s soccer team went undefeated and beat intracounty rival Southeast Whitfield 5-0 in the Class 4A championship match two-and-a-half weeks ago in Carrollton. The Cats also finished the season ranked No. 1 in maxpreps.com’s national poll. Dalton finished with a ranking score of 32.65. The next highest was a team from Omaha, Neb., with a score of 28.86. Southeast’s Raiders finished ranked 10th.
“We’re very proud of that,” Dalton boys soccer coach Matt Cheaves said of the No. 1 national ranking. “It’s not so much an accomplishment as it is a recognition. The rankings that are important are the ones at the end. After we won the state championship, the next weekend we went from No. 1 to No. 2. We thought it was odd, but now it’s all said and done and we’re No. 1.”
Dalton’s swimming team won the Class A-5A state championship in February at Georgia Tech. Along with the team title, Taylor Dale won two individual titles (100-yard backstroke and 100 butterfly), and two relay titles (400 freestyle and 200 medley) with teammates Ethan Young, Pierson Scarborough and Taylor Mathis.
Coach Charles Todd commended the signs’ look and said he also suggested waiting to put them up.
“They started developing it in April and I said, ‘Well, this soccer team is pretty good and the golf and tennis teams are strong. We may want to wait a little bit.’ Sure enough, the soccer team won it,” he said. “Dalton has had a banner year and I think it’s nice for the kids to get recognized in their sports.”
Todd also said the electronic billboard at the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Thornton Avenue had a photo of the swimming team with the state title trophy.
There isn’t a set time for when the road signs will come down, Pennington said, noting they are just “for the year that they won it” and the same will happen for any prospective 2013-2014 state title teams.
“Let’s hope that we win it again next year and we just have to update it with a new year,” Pennington said.
Northwest Whitfield High School’s softball team, which won the Class 4A state title last fall, received similar recognition for its success. Principal Britt Adams said the Whitfield County Road Department put up three white road signs with blue letters on Highway 201. One is on the eastbound side immediately to the east of Interstate 75, and two are on the sides of the highway approaching the high school from either direction. They read, “Home of the Lady Bruins 2012 4A Softball State Champs.”