Walton girls clinch county title by slim pair of points
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
January 26, 2014 12:51 AM | 2839 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Emma Cole was a two-time winner at the county meet Saturday at Mountain View Aquatic Center, clinching the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, giving Walton all-important points in the team competition. That proved pivotal as the Lady Raiders prevailed over archrival Lassiter by just two points.
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Emma Cole was a two-time winner at the county meet Saturday at Mountain View Aquatic Center, clinching the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, giving Walton all-important points in the team competition. That proved pivotal as the Lady Raiders prevailed over archrival Lassiter by just two points.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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MARIETTA — The Lassiter girls had dominated the county meet for much of the last decade.

Now, Walton’s starting a county streak of its own.

The Lady Raiders won their second straight county championship Saturday at Mountain View Aquatic Center, though Lassiter forced them to earn it during the day’s final event.

After Walton got out to a great start, Lassiter made a run in the latter half of the meet before the Lady Raiders held on by two points, with a title-clinching total of 617. Kennesaw Mountain followed Lassiter in a distant third with 340.

After trailing Walton by 39 points with four events remaining, Lassiter got within eight of the Lady Raiders going into the 400-yard relay, the final event of the meet.

Even though Lassiter won the relay in 3 minutes, 31.41 seconds, all Walton needed to do was play it safe, finish high and not disqualify.

The Lady Raiders did just that, finishing second behind Lassiter by half a body’s length (3:31.98).

“It was so stressful. I was so nervous,” said Walton’s Kira de Bruyn, a Georgia Tech signee who anchored the relay team. “It’s amazing. The girls stepped up and did things I didn’t think were possible.”

Much of Walton’s success came early in the meet, starting with the 200 medley relay, which it won in 1:48.20, thanks largely to de Bruyn putting the Lady Raiders in front in the second leg, the breaststroke.

Emma Cole followed with a 2-second victory over Lassiter’s Kelli Croft in the 200 freestyle, touching in 1:52.41. She was bolstered by three of her teammates in the event, with Mary Beckwith fourth (1:55.64), Lindsay Akers sixth (1:59.79) and Halle Friedman ninth (2:00.89).

Cole went on to beat Croft by more than 4 seconds in the 500 freestyle (4:59.54), and Walton added more points with Friedman eighth (5:20.57) and Gabbie Gauntt ninth (5:22.68).

Midway through the meet, Walton increased its lead on Lassiter in the 100 butterfly with de Bruyn second (57.36), Akers seventh (1:02.01) and Olivia Winkler eighth (1:02.30).

“I was the way they swam the whole meet, and the maturity that they showed,” Walton coach Mary Howell Hafner said. “They just fought for every single point, and I’m really proud of them.”

Lassiter got two individual wins from Lexi Glunn, who beat de Bruyn for the 200 IM (2:04.72), and then added a title in the 100 freestyle (52.23).

Lassiter started making a push when Glunn, Ali Ramirez, Micaela Janco and Allison Nastasi helped the Lady Trojans win the 200 freestyle (1:39.15). The points kept coming when Nicole Prendes (59.13) and Ramirez (59.4) finished second and third in the 100 backstroke, behind Walton’s Beckwith (58.98).

But it was the 100 breaststroke later on in the meet that put Walton on its heels, with Lauren O’Malley third (1:07.10), Lauren Brewer fourth (1:09.22) and Sarah Nastasi fifth (1:09.70).

Going into the 400 freestyle relay, Lassiter needed to be closer than eight points.

“It was an exciting finish. It came down to the very end,” Lassiter coach Brittany Hughes said. “The breaststroke was one of our strongest strokes. The last two relays, we did well in, and we had a lot of girls step up.”

Allatoona’s Aja Malone was a two-time winner Saturday, claiming the 50 freestyle (23.87) and 100 butterfly (55.43). Pope’s Emma Murray won the 100 breaststroke (1:04.05).
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