Usual suspects likely in county swim meet
by Adam Carrington
January 23, 2014 12:31 AM | 2586 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack Gunning will be one of the go-to swimmers for Walton this weekend as its boys squad looks to defend its county title from last season.
<BR>Staff file photo
Jack Gunning will be one of the go-to swimmers for Walton this weekend as its boys squad looks to defend its county title from last season.
Staff file photo
The Lassiter girls swim program has dominated the Cobb County Championship for more than a decade, having won 12 championships in the past 14 years.

The Walton boys have won four of the past six county titles.

The teams have had a significant depth advantage over their Cobb counterparts for years now.

This year’s county meet, a three-day event that starts today at Mountain View Aquatic Center, will likely come down to how many swimmers the teams can place in the top 20.

The Lassiter girls are confident they can return to their winning ways after Walton halted their four-year winning streak last year.

To prevail, they Lady Trojans will have to do it with help from several new faces.

They have a group of talented freshmen — Anna Lofton, Sarah and Allison Nastasi, Dakota Werner, Grace Nekrasas — who could help veterans Lauren O’Malley and Nicole Prendes in a variety of events.

Though the Lassiter girls fell to Walton at the Cobb Quad Meet earlier this season, the county meet is typically where the Lady Trojans peak. And Lassiter can also get diving points this season behind Maddie Hester.

“I think our girls have a good shot (at winning), and they are deep this year,” Lassiter coach Brittany Hughes said. “We have a lot more than last year, and they’re more well-rounded.”

But winning the majority of events may not be enough for Lassiter.

Walton, led by Georgia Tech signee Kira de Bruyn, is known for its large numbers. With as many as 20 swimmers eligible for the finals Saturday, the Lady Raiders can score points by stacking multiple swimmers in each event.

With the Lassiter boys having graduated top-tier swimmers Jimmy Yoder and Zach Bunner from last year, Walton is the likely favorite to defend its title from a year ago.

Walton will need production from its big three — Mark Keaveney (sprints), Jack Gunning (distance) and Thomas Kelly (200-yard individual medley). The Raiders are also expected to stand out in all three relays.

“I think the key will be those relays doing well,” Walton coach Mary Howell Hafner said. “We’re going to have tough competition from Lassiter, Kennesaw Mountain and top finishers from other teams.”

The Kennesaw Mountain boys have three big guns this year in Thomas Locke (sprints), Garrett Layde (200 IM, 500 freestyle), and Carter Long (300 freestyle, 100 butterfly).

The Kennesaw Mountain girls will miss their superstar Rebecca Postoll, who moved to Charlotte, N.C., but the Lady Mustangs have plenty of experience to fill the relays and most individual events.

The Kennesaw Mountain girls’ success will hinge greatly in the diving competition, in which they are depending on their top three of Rochelle Still, Jordan Shealy and Abby Martin.

“If we can do what we did last year (in diving), it will go a long way for us to finish in the top three,” Kennesaw Mountain coach David Reason said.

The Wheeler boys, who beat Lassiter in its senior night meet last weekend, can make a case for a top-three finish. The Wildcats are strong in the freestyle events behind Kevin Zhou and Stephen Johnston, and they’ve added depth in their other events.
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