The Georgia 5A and Under State Championship meet, the first of this edition since Georgia split off a new 6A class this season, was an electric atmosphere at the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center. Though these are Georgia’s smaller schools, they were anything but small in the pool this weekend as tons of State Records went down.
Things began during Friday’s prelims when Dalton High Sch0ol freshman Ethan Young broke a 13-14 National Age Group Record in the 200 backstroke. He, by the slimmest of margins (.02 seconds), missed getting that record again on Saturday with a 49.14. He, in fact, slipped just barely to second place, though there won’t be many hard feelings there as it was to a 49.11 from senior teammate Taylor Dale, who will be a Georgia Bulldog next season.
The 100 fly saw almost exactly the same story. Young, who was the top seed coming out of prelims, added about two tenths to go a 50.49 for a silver medal, while the more veteran Dale timed out his energy to hit a near-perfect finals swim and win in 49.86.
Young ages up soon, but he’s headed to the Orlando Grand Prix this weekend to see if he can’t sneak in a few long course NAG Records before moving up (he already has two in yards) or even get some World Champs Trials qualifying times. His best 100 back in long course is 58.22, just half-a-second off of the record,
In 3rd place in that 100 fly was another freshman: Westminster’s Derek Cox. He and Young will have quite the ride together over the next four years (Cox’s twin brother, Erek, was also a scorer at this meet, giving a bright future to the Atlanta-based school). Derek to etch his name as the only individual freshman champion at this meet with a 1:52.00, ahead of Colin Monahghan in 1:52.86.
With Dale swimming backstroke (22.23) and Young swimming butterfly (22.31), it’s no surprise that Dalton took the 200 medley relay in 1:32.93 – rebreaking their own State Record from prelims. The other two members were Pierson Scarborough and Taylor Mathis. St. Pius, led by a 21.82 butterfly split from Gunnar Bentz, was 2nd in 1:38.07; that relay will be back in tact next year with four seniors.
Individually, the other star of this men’s meet is North Hall’s Paul Powers. He hit exactly a 20.00 in the 50 free prelims, and though he couldn’t dip under in finals, his 20.21 was well fast enough for the state title. The silver medal actually went to Powers’ younger brother, 15-year old sophmore Ty Powers in 20.80.
Later, leading off the 200 free relay, the North Hall boys won in 1:27.17 and Paul Powers swam a 19.91 to go under 20 seconds for the first time in his career. Powers added a second individual win in the 100 free with a 44.49. That missed his high school State Record of 44.02 in prelims, and his 43.99 from a club meet earlier this season.
Powers also played for his school’s basketball team during his freshmen and sophomore years, an overlapping season, but this year he has chosen to focus on swimming to ensure that he gets lined up with the right scholarship opportunities for college. He plans to go back to basketball as a senior.
Powers is still doing most of his training with Andy Deichert, but he has added an interesting changeup: his Saturday workouts are done with legendary age group swimmer Sabir Muhammad.
In the 200 free relay, the Dalton relay was disqualified in prelims; they wouldn’t have challenged for the event victory, but that points hit plummetted them down to 5th in the team standings headed into the meet’s final events. That didn’t last long, though; after the aforementioned 100 backstroke (where they had three individual winners) they had already jumped back out in front of North Hall, a lead they would not relinquish through their 3:10.83 victory in the 400 free relay. That relay was again led by Young (46.52 leadoff) and Dale (46.12 anchor).
Another big name at this meet is the aforementioned St. Pius’ swimmer Gunnar Bentz. He’s a very good butterflier, but at this meet focused more on the middle-distance freestyles.
His prelims started out a bit shaky, where he went only a 1:43.1 in his 200 free, but coming right off of the medley relay in finals, he was a much better 1:38.65 to win. That’s still about a second-and-a-half off of his best time from December’s Georgia Senior Champs. Runner-up in that race was Northview sophomore Knox Auerbach in 1:40.27.
In the 500 free, Bentz got a good push from Tyler Graff, but ultimately Bentz turned on his steam in the 3rd 100 yards and pulled away for a 4:35.46 win. Graff was 2nd in 4:38.71.
The other individual winner from the meet was Chamblee Charter’s Alex Kemenov in the 100 breaststroke with a 57.93.
Boys Top 10 in Team Standings
1. Dalton 192
2. Westminster 173
3. Oconee County 154
4. North Hall 144
5. St Pius X 135
6. Marist 133
7. Chamblee Charter 131
8. Northview 115
9. Starr’s Mill 101
10. Holy Innocents 76