Tuesday April 23rd, 2024 9:10AM

Swimming: Lady Trojans dethrone Branch; RMA holds off challenge in Hall County meet

GAINESVILLE — Pete Doig and Marc Paglia found themselves treading the waters of the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in full clothing -- including shoes and socks -- on Saturday.

And the North Hall and Riverside Military swim coaches were happy to take part in the traditional celebration of taking the plunge after watching their teams pull off impressive victories in the Hall County Swim Championships in Gainesville.

Doig's Lady Trojans ended Flowery Branch's reign of dominance, edging the Lady Falcons by one point (279-278) to become the first squad outside of Flowery Branch to notch a girls Hall County title. Paglia's Eagles, meanwhile, continued their own death-grip on the Hall County crown, marking yet another championship. In fact, Riverside has yet to be dethroned, winning every Hall County Championship in which it has competed.

(NOTE: For a complete look at top three finishes for each race in the 2017 Hall County Swim Championships scroll down. You can also scroll through a series of photos from the event by clicking on the picture above.)

"There was one year where we couldn't compete because it had to be rescheduled and we had a schedule conflict," Paglia said. "But this is our six -- or seventh -- time winning, and it means a lot. For the team it's the highlight of the year -- I think the meet is that way for all Hall County teams because you can compete your entire team in a great, competitive environment."

Both the boys and girls sides of the meet proved ultra-competitive, though the Falcons continued their own control of the overall title, their strength in numbers and quality depth keeping the biggest trophy in the south end of the county. The Falcons claimed two gold medals and finished in the top three of all but four of the 22 combined varsity events.

"This meet everybody focuses on trying to beat Flowery Branch because they've been so good and have so much depth," North Hall girls senior standout Rosemary Schofield said. "We used to never have a chance, but now we have so many swimmers that we're really building the program."

Schofield has been a key piece of that progress, and she continued her impressive form on Saturday, claiming the 50- and 100-yard freestyle titles to close out her varsity career with a four-year sweep of each event (she even won the events as an eighth grader but could not claim the official titles until her freshman year).

"It was fun for the last time to get the same records I had," said Schofield, who will not swim competitively at the collegiate level but still has the state swim meet to look forward to Feb. 2-4 in Atlanta. "It's been a long season, but this meet is still intense, and it's hard to get faster times here because of the pressure of the meet."

The Lady Trojans won seven events, including two gold medals for Julia Kelly in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke -- but the meet came down to the final event, and North Hall's performance in the 400 freestyle relay, including a second place finish for its 'A' team, proved just enough to edge the Lady Trojans in front. Flowery Branch took first and third in the event, but it was not enough to edge out the Lady Trojans -- who actually lost to the Branch by a single point in last year's meet.

The day also included an impressive performance from Chestatee's Lindsey Grater, who broke her own Hall County record in the 500 freestyle en route to two gold medals. Grater touched the wall in 5:17.58 to edge out her performance from 2016. She also claimed the 100 butterfly title.

"This (win) helps us big time," Doig said. "It shows we have the ability to build a program and be successful. And the kids have learned about being committed and being successful."

Riverside has known plenty of success in the Hall County Championships, but it too was pushed to the wire by the Falcons and Red Elephants.

"When I saw how many guys Flowery Branch, North Hall, Gainesville -- a lot of teams, really -- had I didn't think we had much of a chance because they had so much depth and a lot of good swimmers," Paglia said. "But we kept placing well, and even though we didn't win a lot of events we kept finishing in the top half of events and building points."

The key for Riverside came in the 200 free relay, as the Eagles finished 1-2.

"That was 50 points right there, so I knew we had a solid chance at that point," Paglia said. "From there on it was a chess match."

Yet the Eagles actually had nothing to do with the performance that perhaps sealed their crown, as Gainesville's 400 freestyle relay beat out Flowery Branch -- Riverside took third -- to ensure the Falcons could not leapfrog Riverside.

"I'm not sure who it was from Gainesville that swam that last leg -- Tanner Doan I think -- to help knock off Flowery Branch, but, if I could, I'd pay him anything he wanted right now," Paglia joked.

Doan enjoyed a standout day, also claiming the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.

"I was in Boston last week (on a class trip) and only got back on Thursday, so I think I did pretty well," said Doan, who added that he's looking at swimming for collegiate programs at Duke, Cornell and Georgia Tech. "Today was about the whole team though, so it was great."

Fellow Gainesville swimmer Brian Monaghan also claimed the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, as the Red Elephants boys claimed six races overall.

Meanwhile, North Hall freshman Will Crumpton served notice in his first Hall County varsity meet (middle school swimmers also compete in the event), storming to 50 and 100 freestyle titles -- something no freshman had previously accomplished. He did so while posting times (22.61 and 51.32) reminiscent of former Trojans stars Paul and Ty Powers, who set state records at North Hall and now each swim at the national and collegiate level.

"I'm posting better times than they did as freshmen, so the goal is to beat them," said Crumpton, who formerly trained with the Powers. "They're good friends, and they pushed me to get better."

Like a handful of other swimmers at the Hall County meet, Crumpton, will now set his sites on the state meet. Yet the Hall County meet provided memories that will linger regardless of the competition ahead.

Saturday, Jan. 21, Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, Gainesville
Top Three FInishes


1. Flowery Branch, 527
2. North Hall, 371
3. Riverside Military, 271

1. Riverside Military, 271
2. Flowery Branch, 247
3. Gainesville, 176

1. North Hall, 279
2. Flowery Branch, 278
3. Chestatee, 169


50 Freestyle
1. Will Crumpton, North Hall (NH), 22.61
2. Daniel Bennett-Blake, Riverside Military Academy (RMA), 22.92
3. James Brubeck, RMA, 23.60

100 Freestyle
1. Will Crumpton, NH, 51.32
2. Ethan Norton, Flowery Branch (FB), 55.14
3. Ryan Little, RMA, 57.18

200 Freestyle
1. Alec Burke, FB, 1:55.28
2. Spencer Sumner, Gainesville (GHS), 1:55.48
3. Landon Kistler, RMA, 2:00.81

500 Freestyle
1. Spencer Sumner, GHS, 5:16.58
2. Andrew Okingo, RMA, 5:46.79
3. Ben Janes, FB, 5:50.31

100 Butterfly
1. Brian Monaghan, GHS, 55.68
2. Alec Burke, FB, 56.04
3. Ty Minton, FB, 1:03.82

100 Backstroke
1. Tanner Doan, GHS, 53.85
2. Noah Miratsky, FB, 58.37
3. Michael Mahroum, West Hall (WH), 1:02.32

100 Breaststroke
1. Brian Monaghan, GHS, 1:01.90
2. Chris Retana, Chestatee (CHS), 1:11.83
3. Trey Denard, FB, 1:12.11

200 Individual Medley
1. Tanner Doan, GHS, 1:56.03
2. Noah Miratsky, FB, 2:12.73
3. Garrett Dalley, RMA, 2:21.01

200 Medley Relay
1. FB A, 1:44.65
2. GHS A, 1:45.24
3. RMA A, 1:52.21

200 Freestyle Relay
1. RMA A, 1:34.59
2. RMA B, 1:41.34
3. NH A, 1:41.77

400 Freestyle Relay
1. GHS A, 3:29.86
2. FB A, 3:29.97
3. RMA A, 3:39.51

50 Freestyle

1. Rosemary Schofield, NH, 25.21
2. Jena Killian, FB, 27.42
3. Gwyneth Thomas, CHS, 29.39

100 Freestyle
1. Rosemary Schofield, NH, 56.11
2. Lily Harris, Lakeview Academy (LA), 1:01.69
3. Aislin Vetrano, FB, 1:06.39

200 Freestyle
1. Sidney Cochran, GHS, 2:07.56
2. Rachel Keller, FB, 2:23.26
3. Abbie Stacks, CHS, 2:42.81

500 Freestyle
1. Lindsey Grater, CHS, 5:17.58
2. Cassidy Klekot, WH, 5:36.97
3. Riley Whitwell, FB, 6:43.56

100 Butterfly
1. Lindsey Grater, CHS, 59.77
2. Jordon Battle, NH, 1:08.53
3. Annika Nguyen, GHS, 1:11.02

100 Backstroke
1. Julia Kelly, NH, 1:02.77
2. Sidney Cochran, GHS, 1:06.67
3. Rachel Sides, FB, 1:14.90

100 Breaststroke
1. Julia Kelly, NH, 1:13.45
2. Cassidy Klehot, FB, 1:16.51
3. Lily Harris, LA, 1:18.95

200 Individual Medley
1. Jordon Battle, NH, 2:21.62
2. Annika Nguyen, GHS, 2:33.41
3. Gwyneth Thomas, CHS, 2:55.05

200 Medley Relay
1. NH A, 2:05.55
2. CHS A, 2:19.16
3. FB A, 2:26.64

200 Freestyle Relay
1. NH A, 1:48.63
2. FB A, 1:49.06
3. CHS A, 1:56.22

400 Freestyle Relay
1. FB A, 4:16.09
2. NH A, 5:14.99
3. FB B, 5:15.20

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