By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BARBOURVILLE—Not a bad way to start a new sport.
North Laurel and South Laurel both competed in their first swim meet in school history Monday night at the Robert Stivers II Wellness Center in Barbourville, with North winning the overall title while South finished fourth.
“I would like to say how very proud I am of the effort of very North Laurel swim team member,” coach Amy Stenger said. “We didn’t get in the pool until late November when most teams had been practicing since October. We have the proud distinction of being the first team to be in the pool since South Laurel didn’t start until a little while after we had begun. Our team has a lot—more than half—of swimmers who have never competed on a swim team before. So tonight was their first meet ever. I think that they all did a terrific job.”
South Laurel coach Sarah Wilder was equally as proud of her team’s fourth place finish.
“Overall I was very impressed with how well my swimmers did, both individually and in team results,” Wilder said. “A lot of kids, for their first time ever swimming in a meet, came out and earned points for the team. They only took points on the top two finishers for each team, so for first time swimmers to be earning points is a huge deal. Their hard work has paid off, and I only see them getting better.”
North Laurel finished with a combined score of 558 and South Laurel, 339. South just missed third by two points. North took second in the girls’ meet and first in the boys, while South finished fourth in both meets.
Some of the highlights for local swimmers were:
North Laurel: Keller Brown finished in first place in the men’s 500 freestyle with a time of 6:55.18, with teammate Collin Gilkinson taking second in 8:09.44. Sydney King took fourth in the women’s 200 medley in 3:12.50, Katie Bowling sixth in 3:35.54. Jonah Deaton finished second in the men’s 200 individual medley with a time of 3:23.13 and Hasan Salim third in 3:28.33. The women’s 200 relay team of Katie Bowling, Megan Mills, Megan Bryant and Sydney King finished third with a time of 2:27.52, just missing second place by 1.17 seconds.
The women’s 100 breaststroke saw Megan Mills took first in 1:20.85 and Keller Brown won the men’s 100 breaststroke in 1:13.23. Layne Gaynor took fourth in the men’s 100 backstroke in 1:44.41.
“During the meet I thought we were doing our best, but I had no idea we would come out with the win,” Stenger said. She added that she would like to thank her assistant coach, Kris McCarter, for all her help and the parents for being behind this program getting started in Laurel County schools. “Hopefully the results will demonstrate that our school system made the right decision adding this sport to our schools.”
South Laurel: Rhiannon Spradin took third in the women’s individual medley with a time of 2:58.66. She also took third in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:30.88. Ruben Soto had two top five finishes, taking fourth in the men’s 50 freestyle (27.52) and fifth in the 100 backstroke (1:22.36).
Benjamin McDonald finished third in the men’s 100 freestyle (1:13.78) and third in the 100 backstroke (1:35.17). Johnny May brought home a third place in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:32.47. Sydney McWhorter took fourth in the women’s 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 freestyle.
“Their hard work has paid off, and I only see them getting better,” Wilder said.
Combined Team Scores
1, North Laurel, 558; 2. Berea Community, 467; 3. Rockcastle County, 341; 4. South Laurel, 339; 5. Oneida Baptist, 258; 6. Knox Central, 231; 7. Barbourville, 146.
Women’s Team Scores
1. Rockcastle County, 248; 2. North Laurel, 244; 3. Berea Community, 239; 4. South Laurel, 198; 5. Knox Central, 144; 6. Oneida Baptist, 83; 7. Barbourville, 81.
Men’s Team Scores
1. North Laurel, 314; 2. Berea Community, 228; 3. Oneida Baptist, 175; 4. South Laurel, 141; 5. Rockcastle County, 93; 6. Knox Central, 87; 7. Barbourville, 65.