Several new county records were set by Cherokee County swimmers last season and with many of the area’s best swimmers returning, this season could see more records fall by the wayside.
At the Cherokee County Swimming Championships last January, eight new county records were set by swimmers from three different schools. Sequoyah’s Grant Davis set new county marks in the 100-yard freestyle (46.88) and 500-yard freestyle (4:32.33) while Delaney Harrison set also set two new county records in both the 50-yard freestyle (24.00) and the 100-yard freestyle (52.84). Davis and Harrison will both return this season as reigning boys and girls Cherokee County Swimmers of the Year.
River Ridge’s Sarah Brown broke her own record in the 100-yard breaststroke, setting a new mark at 1:04.7. Brown also swam on the River Ridge teams which set new county marks in the girls 200-yard medley relay (1:51.39) and the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:40.46).
Woodstock’s Mason Sommer also set a new county mark in the boys’100-yard breaststroke (58.21). Sommer also finished in first place in the boys 200-yard individual medley (1:59.15).
On the team level, Etowah won its fourth-straight county championship. The Etowah girls took first place in the girls’ team standings with 382 points with River Ridge (275), Creekview (243), Sequoyah (185), Woodstock (149) and Cherokee (68) rounding out the standings.
River Ridge took first place in the boys’ team standings with 361 points. Creekview (277), Etowah (274), Sequoyah (160), Woodstock (129) and Cherokee (101) rounded out the standings.
At the state meet this past February, it was Sequoyah which led the way for Cherokee County with three podium top-3 finishes. Davis (500-yard freestyle) and Harrison (100-yard freestyle) each claimed individual state titles while Blase finished third in both the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.
The Sequoyah girls finished sixth in Class AAAAAA, the highest for any Cherokee County team. The River Ridge girls (10th place) and the Creekview boys (ninth place) were the only other county teams with top-10 finishes.
At Sequoyah, Harrison will return for her junior season this fall while Blase will look to improve her times as a sophomore. Davis, now senior and committed to swimming at Auburn, will likely challenge to repeat as state champion in the 500-yard freestyle. Sophomore Logan Geoghagan could also be primed for a big season after earning All-County honors as a freshman.
River Ridge’s Brown, now a senior, recorded two fourth-place finishes at the state meet (200-yard IM and 100-yard breaststroke) and should once again lead the Knights’ girls team along with Ashley Fortin.
On the boys’ side, River Ridge won its first county championship last season and should be led this year by Bridger Putzer, Carson Portis and Ben Johnson, who all earned All-County honors a season ago.
Creekview’s Nicholas Kjaerulff should also be one the best swimmers in the county after finishing fifth in the 500-yard freestyle at last year’s state meet. Adare Carmody and Madison Wechter are Creekview’s two returning all-county girls swimmers.
Etowah will be looking for its fifth county title in-a-row. Cole Dallas, Ben Willet and Zack Zamorano should lead the the Eagles after earning all-county honors a season ago. Payton Smith — who finished recorded to top-10 finishes at last year’s state meet in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly — should help lead the Etowah girls this season along with juniors Bianca Santiago and Ava Springer.
Etowah’s Kassandra Gutierrez also returns this season after finishing in third place in the 1-meter diving competition at last year’s state meet, the only county diver to place at state.
Woodstock will need to replace Sommer along with Harrison White from last year’s team. Ashley Case, who recorded a 7th-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle at last year’s state meet, should help lead the Woodstock girls.
Cherokee will look to improve on last year’s team and will need to replace senior Zach Nepogoda, who finished 10th in the 500-yard freestyle at last year’s state meet. Alex Prainito returns and should help lead the Cherokee girls.