Coweta swimmers making big splash early

From Staff Reports
It’s only the first two weeks of the season and already Coweta County swimmers have turned in their share of qualifying times for February’s GHSA State Championships.
East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate all managed to excel in Saturday’s Wildcat Big Splash Invitational at the Steve Lundquist Aquatics Center in Clayton County, each finishing among the top-10 among 19 schools in competition.
Paced by 200-plus efforts from both its boys and girls lineups, a young Northgate lineup finished a solid fourth-overall with 435 points behind only Wesleyan (722 1/2), Woodward Academy (709) and Starr’s Mill (606). Both the Vikings (235) and Lady Vikings (200) were fourth in respective divisions.
Northgate swimmers posted seven state qualifying times among a program that lost 12 seniors to graduation last year. Returning standouts Delaney Wallace and Justin Moore picked up where they left off in respective varsity debuts in 2011. Wallace won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:12.02 and also qualified in the 50 freestyle individually with a third-place effort in 26.40.
Moore posted state times with a victory in the 100 backstroke (54.89), his signature event, as well as a third-place effort in the 100 butterfly in 57.75.

Host Whitewater barely held off East Coweta’s 361 points for fifth place with a slim 8-point margin separating the schools. The Indians’ 182 points were fifth among boys and the Lady Indians’ total of 179 sixth among girls.

Junior Nick Hogsed quickly turned in state times to ensure his third consecutive trip to the GHSA Championships this winter. The Indians standout dominated in the 500 freestyle in 4:39.10 coming in more than a minute ahead of the state standard while also nearly a full minute ahead of his nearest competitor on Saturday.

Hogsed also qualified individually in the 100 butterfly in 56.98 by placing second just ahead of Moore. The Indians also received solid outings from Hunter Kirbow (5th, 200 freestyle; 10th, 100 freestyle) and Jesse Murr (3rd, 200 Individual Medley; 5th, 100 backstroke). Murr came within .47 seconds from the state qualifying mark of 2:24 in the 200 IM.

East Coweta’s girls were led by senior Kelsey Taliaferro, who also clinched a return trip to state in her final varsity season. Taliaferro turned in a state time in the 100 butterfly by placing third in 1:03.99 and nearly came away with two others, including one as part of the Lady Indians’ 200-medley relay finish.

Taliaferro also took fifth in the 100 backstroke while coming 8-hundredths of a second off a qualifying pace. Others with top individual efforts included senior Ashley Delgado (2nd, 500 freestyle; 7th, 100 butterfly) and Stacie Evans (4th, 200IM).

Newnan placed 10th overall with 120 points, paced by the Cougars’ 98-point effort for eighth in the boys division.

Newnan’s top swimmers at the meet included Caleb Schneck who was sixth (5:52.67) in the 500 freestyle and eighth in the 200 IM. The Lady Cougars were paced by Newnan’s top girls swimmers included Courteney Darrow, who placed 12th in the 100 backstroke.

Relay efforts also posted qualifying times including efforts in both of Northgate’s 200 medley swims. A Lady Viking team of sophomore Katie Whiddon, Wallace and seniors Giulia Middei and Bria Malry finished in 2:04.18 for a sixth-place finish.

The same event saw a Lady Indian medley relay of Taliaferro, seniors Kyra Odum and Ashley Delgado and junior Katie Sears take seventh overall while missing the state mark of 2:07 by 13-hundredths of a second.

Northgate’s girls 200 freestyle relay also qualified for state while finishing an impressive third. A team of Whiddon, Malry, junior Hayley Holmes and Wallace finished in 1:52.07. The Lady Vikings’ ‘B’ team of freshmen Madeline Long and Savannah Moore as well as juniors Rachel Deloach and Sarah Ziegler also scored with a 14th-place effort.

East Coweta and Newnan teams also scored in the event while placing 16th and 17th, respectively.

The Lady Indians’ 400 freestyle relay of Taliaferro, senior Lauren Hanus, Sears and Delgado placed a solid fifth overall in 4:14.49. Northgate’s ‘A’ lineup was 11th and East Coweta’s “B’ girls team was 12th while Newnan’s ‘A’ team also scored in 17th position among a team made up entirely of sophomores (Kaitlyn Nichols, Kimber Brown, Kaylee Wagstaff and Anna Bonomi).

Boys relay competition saw Northgate earn a state time in the 200 medley event. Moore, Spencer Ramthun, Andrew Wheeler, and Russell Durrance placed fifth in 1:50.64. East Coweta’s ‘A’ team was seventh (1:55.42) and Newnan’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams were 12th and 15th while adding points in both efforts.

The Vikings’ ‘A’ freestyle relay of Wheeler, Ramthun, Durrance and Moore missed a state time by less than a second while placing sixth.

Individually both Northgate lineups had several swimmers that earned personal-best efforts. Among girls they included Whiddon (3rd, 200 freestyle; 9th 100 backstroke), Middei (9th, 100 butterfly; 6th 500 freestyle), Holmes (10th, 100 backstroke; 5th, 500 freestyle) and first-year swimmer Wendy Cervantes (16th, 50 freestyle).

Viking individual efforts also included best times from Wheeler (5th, 200 butterfly; 3rd, 200 freestyle), Harrison Griffiths (24th, 50 freestyle) and Alex Dahlquist (8th, 100 freestyle).

Meanwhile, East Coweta’s boys also showcased its potential with a third-place effort of 3:44.10 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, made up of Luc Boulet, Hogsed, Murr and Kirbow.

Newnan’s individual efforts among top-15 finishers included Johnny Jorgensen placing 11th in the 50 freestyle (26.03), and Reven Hutzleman (1:0824), who was 14th. Drew Mask was 13th was (1:14.01) in the 100 backstroke.

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