The Eagles have now won the last eight county titles, including the last two under coach Virginia Richards.
After taking a leap into the pool as her swimmers celebrated the victory, Richards said she wasn’t as prepared to get wet this season as she was last year. Richards had done the math entering the meet and expected her team to lose by as many as 30 points, but everything seemed to go right for her swimmers once they were in the pool.
“I was less prepared to get in to the pool this year,” she said. “We were supposed to lose by 30 overall. Then we had a (disqualification) in our (girls 200-yard) medley relay. They were fifth, and that was a lot of points that we lost. But I’ll tell you what, we had kids sneaking up into eight, ninth place out of the second-to-last heat. Everybody moved up in their heat or stayed the same. No one moved down in the heats.”
Richards said she often tells her team that meets can be won, not only by the top swimmers, but by every single point.
“When it comes down to five, it’s every little point,” Richards said. “The kid who got 10th and scored one little point is as important as the kid who won the event that he was supposed to.”
Among those Etowah swimmers moving up to score points were the boys 200 medley relay, Amelia Bryson (200 free, 100 free), Haley Martin (200 medley), Samantha Cohen (50 free), Emily Guebert (50 free), Jessica Resnick (100 free), Zachary Haas (500 free), the boys 200 free relay, girls 200 free relay, Emily Troxell (100 back) and the boys 400 free relay.
The Woodstock boys took first with 243 points, followed by River Ridge (222) and Etowah (198). Sequoyah was fourth, followed by Creekview and Cherokee.
In the girls meet, Etowah posted a 50-point victory over Woodstock, which was enough to give the Eagles the combined victory. Following the Etowah girls (307) and Woodstock (257) were Creekview (141), River Ridge (106), Sequoyah (105) and Cherokee (36).
Woodstock coach J.T. Gillin said it was a frustrating meet.
“We had a couple of tough swims at the beginning, and the rest of the meet, we were playing catch-up,” Gillin said. “I thought our girls would hang better because I thought we had more depth than there ended up being.”
Both Gillin and Richards felt like the meet changed on the girls 200 relay. Lauren Case, who anchored the team for Woodstock, didn’t have enough pool to close in on the Etowah relay, which won by less than half a second.
Etowah also had relays finish sixth and ninth to score points in the event, while Woodstock was only able to get points from two relay teams.
“We were touched out with Lauren Case, who couldn’t catch Megan Young,” Gillin said, “and then our ‘B’ relay was touched out by (Etowah’s) ‘B’ relay. That is a 16-point swing right there. We just couldn’t recover from it.”
The River Ridge boys’ second-place finish showed that Etowah and Woodstock aren’t the only competitors in the county. For a couple of years, Sequoyah has been a factor in the meet, but it was the first time that the county’s newest high school made an impact and took home a trophy.
Up next for all of the programs is the state meet. The format will be different from the county meet, with swimmers only able to compete in three events and one relay per day.
“We’ll do some shuffling and see who will be competing in what events,” Richards said. “It’s a whole different competition.”