Sunday May 29th, 2016 1:14PM

STATE CHAMPS: Powers brothers, Monaghan, Trojan relay team all go for gold

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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ATLANTA -- Hall County sports is about way more than the "big three" (football, basketball, baseball) these days.

Hall County swimmers put on a show Saturday at the GHSA championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

Senior Paul Powers, a Michigan-signee, blew away the field in the 100-yard freestyle while his brother Ty, a junior, dominated in the 50 free to bring home individual state titles for North Hall.

The pair also powered the Trojans' 200 freestyle relay team to a gold medal, and they helped the 200 medley relay team finish fourth.

Meanwhile, Gainesville junior Colin Monaghan brought home his first-ever state title, capping a solid day for area swimmers and winning a head-to-head duel with Ty Powers in the 100 breaststroke.

"I think this showed that there are good swimmers in Hall County," Monaghan said. "It was tons of fun out here swimming against Ty and some of my other friends. It was great competition. As far as the title, it's an honor. Hasn't really sunk in yet."

All three swimmers are hoping the successful day by local swimmers will help bring more attention to the quick-rising sport.

"It's hard to get people interested at first. They're not real sure what it's about," Ty Powers said. "But I think with the success Paul, Colin, myself and some others we can start to make some progress around town."

"We're definitely making progress around town with the exposure," Paul Powers said. "We're talking to people all the time trying to get them involved. The numbers are coming."

Paul Powers showed just how all-conquering he can be in the 100-yard freestyle. He dominated the field and blistered his own state record (43.66 seconds) with a 43.19 time that was nearly three seconds faster than second-place Justin Moore of Northgate (46.58). He led off the 200 free relay with a 19.85 first leg, just missing out on his own state-record of 19.63. He would finish off his day with a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke, falling to race-favorite and two-time state champion in the event, Ethan Young of Dalton.

"This was definitely a good finish to my high school career," Paul Powers said. "I was hoping for more in the (100) backstroke but honestly I didn't have a whole lot left at the end. But I'm happy overall with how the day went.

"As a team we showed that there is more to North Hall than just me or Ty. The other guys really stepped up. Winning the relay was the biggest thing for me."

Ty Powers brought home the day's first title for area swimmers winning the 50-yard freestyle race with an All-American time of 20.59, nearly half-a-second faster than second place Cash DeLoache of Tucker, who posted a 20.93 time.

His race against Monaghan was one of the highlights of the meet, however.

Monaghan chuckled when asked about trying to hold off one of the Powers brothers; the Gainesville standout wiped out the field, beating Powers, who finished third and Basil Orr of St. Pius, who took silver.

"Ty was probably a little tired from winning those other races," Monaghan said while joking with Ty after the race. "I knew it would be a tough race but we're great friends and we have fun competing."

In the boys 200-yard medley relay, North Hall pulled ahead after the third leg. But strong final legs by Marist, St. Pius, and Dalton were able catch and pass the Trojans, who wound up fourth with a 1:42.63 finish. Marist won with a time of 1:39.68.

"We felt like we could win that but everyone posted faster times than in the past so we swam a good race," Paul Powers said. "I think North Hall is going to be in good hands without me."

The Trojans as a team finished with 143 points in the Class 1-5A boys team standings. St. Pius edged out Marist 199-191 to win the team title. Westminster was third and Chamblee Charter was fourth.

Monaghan, who posted the best qualifying time in the boys 200-yard IM, was no match against Georgia Bulldog-signee Gunnar Bentz of St. Pius, who blew away the field with a new state-record time of 1:45.55 to win the event. Monaghan finished second with a 1:50.17 time, nearly two seconds better than his qualifying time. Bentz would bring home a second title in the 100 butterfly.

In the boys 200 free, Riverside's Kevin Reale finished eighth with a 1:45.54 time, the exact same time he posted in the preliminaries.

In the girls 50 free, Buford's Brittany Litke won the "B" (consolation) finals and finished eighth in the 100 backstroke.
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