The Lady Trojans might be looking for a little payback — and their first state title in three seasons — as the Class AAAAAA state meet begins today at Georgia Tech.
Lassiter has had more top-tier depth than Walton in recent years, which helped the Lady Trojans exceed their east Cobb rival at the state meet on a consistent basis. With overall depth not as big of a factor at state — only 16 swimmers or relay teams qualify for finals in each event, compared to 20 at county — Lassiter may have an edge.
But this could also be the year that Walton steps up at state, though there will also be other swimming powers like Brookwood, Lambert, Peachtree Ridge and Chattahoochee contending.
“I definitely think that state will be a big showdown with Walton and several other out-of-county schools,” Lassiter coach Brittany Hughes said. “A lot will depend on how our girls step up in their races during prelims on Friday — getting in the top eight and top 16 whenever possible.”
Relays will be key for Lassiter, especially the 200- and 400-yard freestyles. Two-time individual county champion Lexi Glunn (200 individual medley, 100 freestyle) will also contribute, as will Lauren O’Malley (50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke), Nicole Prendes (100 breaststroke), Ali Ramirez (100 butterfly) and Kelli Croft (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle).
Walton freshman Emma Cole could crack the top eight in the 200 and 500 freestyles after winning county titles in both events. Senior Kira de Bruyn, a Georgia Tech signee, is looking to go out with her third straight state title in the 200 IM.
Walton will also continue relying on its relays, particularly the 200 medley team of Cole, de Bruyn, Mary Beckwith and Johanna Keeline.
Based on their performance at county, the Walton boys may have the potential to win a state title, or at least place in the top five. The Raiders will be in the mix with Parkview, Collins Hill and Chattahoochee.
Walton beat Lassiter by 126 points at county, winning two of three relays and every individual event, except the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke.
Jack Gunning, David Dingess, Mark Keaveney and Thomas Kelley will have to step up once again, with the foursome likely swimming the 200 medley relay. Gunning is a candidate to win the 200 and 500 freestyle, Kelley could be in the mix for a 200 IM title and Dingess is expected to finish high in the 100 butterfly.
In diving, Kell’s Anthony Musciano and Austin Rives are gunning for a top two finish tonight in the boys Class A-AAAAA meet after placing in the top two at county. Campbell is expecting big things from David Bullock and Dalton Isley in the Class AAAAAA competition, and Walton is relying on Kyle Hudon to help its cause.
The Kennesaw Mountain girls will get a chunk of their points in diving with Jordan Shealy, Rochelle Still, Meredith Bailey and Abby Miller each having top-10 potential. Lassiter’s Maddie Hester, who took second in county, could really boost the Lady Trojans.
The Pope girls are aiming for a top-five finish in the A-AAAAA meet. Emma Murray will likely vie for a state title in the 100 breaststroke after taking second a year ago.
Allatoona’s Aja Malone will compete for a state title in the 100 butterfly after finishing second last year. She may also attempt to defend her state crown in the 100 backstroke.