While Lassiter may have the upper hand in talent, Walton had the upper hands in depth and used that to its advantage, especially late in the meet, to build a significant lead and win by a comfortable 37 points — even though the Raiders were disqualified in the 400-yard freestyle relay that ended the meet.
Unlike the girls competition, in which Walton would have lost with the DQ, the boys could afford to get away with it.
The Raiders finished with 520 points, outdistancing Lassiter’s 483. North Cobb was third with 317 points, with Kennesaw Mountain (298) and Harrison (281) rounding out the top five.
“The boys were big for us,” Walton coach Sharon Loughran said. “They improved their positions in almost every race — minus the 400 freestyle — and really stepped up their performance.”
Walton needed to step up its performances because Lassiter’s swimmers were stepping up theirs.
The Trojans’ 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams — Zach Bunner, Jimmy Yoder, Daniel Bridgers and Zach Marshall — set county records with a time of 1 minute, 34.38 seconds in the 200 medley and 3:08.65 in the 400 freestyle relay.
“For us to win the relays, we all had to have fast races,” Marshall said. “Everyone stepped up in their race, and that’s why we did so great.”
Yoder won both the 200 and 500, setting new records in both. He broke a 22-year-old record in the 200 (1:40.41), and he bested his own record in the 500 set two years ago by winning in 4:29.27.
Bunner won the 100 butterfly, beating Harrison’s Connor Oslin by .01 seconds. He then went on to shatter a 25-year-old record in the 100 backstroke by winning in 49.57.
Lassiter also fared well in the sprint events, with Bridgers clinching the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Despite all of Lassiter’s early success, Walton managed to stay in front.
“Everyone stepped up when they needed to,” Lassiter coach Lauren Barnes said. “In the end, it came down to (Walton’s) numbers. It was a fun meet, and we’re going to use it for motivation.”
The Raiders finished second to Lassiter in the 200 medley relay and got a boost when Nathan Hufnagel won the 200 individual medley and Thomas Kelley took fourth. They also had three swimmers in the main final of the 200 freestyle, where Jack Gunning finished second.
With Walton barely holding on to its lead over Lassiter after the 500 freestyle, the Raiders stepped up in the 200 freestyle relay and beat North Cobb by less than a second.
“That helped us,” said John Gosnell, who stayed ahead of North Cobb’s Thaddius Macon in the final leg.
Walton also took advantage of Lassiter’s lack of depth in the 100 backstroke. Even though Bunner won that race with a record time, Walton had four finish in the top 10.
The 100 breaststroke was also key for Walton, with Hufnagel and Thomas Kelley finishing first and second, respectively.
“Our depth has been our strength, and it allowed us to get our heads into the game,” Hufnagel said.