Walton managed to win the Class AAAAAA state championship without winning any events at all.
It took a team effort for the Raiders to secure Cobb County’s first boys state title since 1999, totaling 224.5 points at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. With its championship, Walton broke Gwinnett County’s 14-year stranglehold in the state’s biggest classification.
Chattahoochee was second with 218 points, followed by Alpharetta (205), Collins Hill (200) and North Gwinnett (138).
Lassiter was the next-best Cobb team, finishing 12th overall with 80 points.
“It was a team effort. Everyone played their part,” Walton swimmer Thomas Kelley said. “We thought we had an outside chance of winning, but once we got here, we knew this was the year.”
Chattahoochee may have had their way with Walton in terms of individual titles, but the Raiders benefited by having more depth among the top 16 of each event.
Chattahoochee dominated Walton in both the 200-yard medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, but Walton was right behind them at second place in both, which ended up paying dividends toward winning a state title.
The Raiders trailed the Cougars for the first half of the meet. They were fourth after the 200 individual medley — the third event of the day — before inching their way back.
Walton began making its move on Chattahoochee in the 100 butterfly, when fifth-seeded David Dingess took third with a time of 50.29 seconds.
Kentucky-bound Jack Gunning then picked it up in the final 50 yards of the 200 freestyle to pass Norcross’ Powell Brooks and finish third overall (1:39.96). Gunning also made a late push in the 500 freestyle, toward the end of the day’s program, finishing third (4:50.71) and helping Walton keep pace with Chattahoochee.
It was the 200 freestyle when Walton jumped atop the standings by 17.5 points, and it stayed in front from that point forward.
Walton’s 200 freestyle relay — Stephen Lane, Nicholas Froemming, Kelley and Jacob Williams — stepped up to take fifth in 1:27.23. Chattahoochee didn’t having a relay in the event, also benefiting the Raiders.
“I was so proud of their dedication, determination and character,” Walton coach Mary Howell Hafner said. “The 200 freestyle was huge, although we didn’t place in the top three. It was a boost for us.”
Walton stayed in the driver’s seat through the 100 backstroke, with Mark Keaveney third (50.19) and David Dingess ninth (52.31).
Chattahoochee made a late push, with Jay Litherland winning the 100 breaststroke (55.84) and the Cougars claiming the 400 freestyle relay (3:06.61), but Dingess, Williams, Gunning and Keaveney prevented them from taking over by finishing second in the 400 relay (3:06.61).
Youth and inexperience, particularly after graduating state champions Jimmy Yoder and Zach Bunner, prevented Lassiter from staying in the top 10, but the Trojans did have their share of highlights.
Colin Riley was second in the 50 freestyle in 21.04 — just .01 seconds behind Marietta’s Tyler Harper, the first state champion in Blue Devils history.
Riley also took second in the 100 freestyle (46.03).
The Trojans were unable to make the top eight in the relays, but they fared well in the consolation heat of two of them, taking ninth (3:14.98) in the 400 freestyle and 12th in the 200 freestyle (1:30.62).
* The Pope boys took 12th overall in the Class A-AAAAA earlier Saturday, behind distance swimmer Pope’s Landon Bennett, who was fifth in the 500 freestyle (4:36.74) and seventh in the 200 freestyle (1:45.16).
Tyler Garvey was 10th in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.45) and 13th in the 100 freestyle (48.92). Nick Goh aided the Greyhounds by finishing eighth in Thursday’s diving competition, with 401 points.
Bennett and Garvey also helped the Greyhounds place 16th in the 200 medley (1:44.18) and 14th in the 400 freestyle relay (3:23.76).
Kell was 24th overall, scoring the bulk of its points in diving, with Austin Musciano third (476.60) and Austin Rives sixth (413.20).