Hilltoppers down EHS in Freedom Hall meet

By Jeff Birchfield
JOHNSON CITY -- Science Hill took winning honors in both the boys and girls divisions in a meet against Elizabethton Thursday night at the Freedom Hall pool.
The Hilltoppers captured all but one event win on the evening. Evan Lindauer was the only Cyclone able to break the stranglehold with his first-place swim in the 100 backstroke.
Lindauer, who is coming off shoulder surgery for an injury suffered during football season, also placed third in the 500 freestyle.
"I've been getting a lot better," said Lindauer. "When I had surgery, it set me back a lot. God's helping me recover. My times are coming down quite a bit, although it's not where I was last year.
"On Tuesday, I made the state (qualifying) in the 200 and was only five seconds off my best time. I'm still 14 seconds off the best time in the 500. Today I felt a little slow in the water."
The highest finishing EHS girl was Ruth Ann Johnson, runner-up in the 100 breaststroke.
Other top performances came from Sarah Burgoyne -- third place in both the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly -- and Danielle Maughon -- third in the 100 breaststroke.
Burgoyne normally swims in the 50 freestyle and is less than a half second from qualifying for the state meet in that event. Her individual goals were put on hold Thursday. Instead she swam where the team needed her most, in the aforementioned 200 I.M. and the 100 butterfly.
"The freestyle is my event, I'm only good in the fly for about 50 meters," said Burgoyne. "But it helps to cross train in other events. It's good to be good in all strokes. We don't have many swimmers who can do the 100 fly, so coach had me do it."
About facing a team as good and deep as Science Hill, Burgoyne commented: "I practice a lot with the guys. Blake (Dugger) and Evan have helped me improve times and I don't get intimidated when facing a team like this. I get nervous, but figure I should do as good as I practice."
Individual winners at the meet included the following Science Hill boys swimmers: Peter Farmer, Jeff Matthews, Daniel Crowder and Brad Turner.
Female winners of individual events for the Toppers included: Elizabeth Meredith, Amy Holbrook, Rachel Rollston, Tiffany Mothershead and Darcee Kubisiack.
Greeneville High School also sent a couple of its top swimmers to compete with Daniel Paulling winning two events.
The 'Toppers have one of the top traditions in the area, having nine championship team banners and five individual state champion banners since 1996 hanging above their pool. However, last season they fell short of any titles losing out to Dobyns-Bennett.
"Overall we're headed in the right direction," said SH coach Chris Coraggio. "The progress this season is pretty good. I'm anticipating conference and state championships again. You always want to shoot for number one. You don't want to shoot for mediocrity.
"Unlike football or basketball, you can't put up a defense against another team's best swimmer. We have to take care of our own business. If we get our job done I will be pleased no matter what the score comes out."
Besides Lindauer, the top EHS boys finisher was runner-up Blake Dugger in the 200 I.M. and 100 butterfly.
The boys relay team consisting of Lindauer, Bowers, Dugger and Craig Shaw also finished second in the opening 200 medley relay event.
"All the swimmers were a little tired today," said Cyclone head coach Jonell Johnson. "We had a very hard practice yesterday. It's unusual to have a practice like that the day before a meet, but we are trying to look at the overall season and trying to make up for missing some days.
"As a team, we're improving. We have some quality swimmers. A lot of them are rookies to swimming, but they are good."
For Lindauer and many other Cyclones who participate in an offseason program in Johnson City, Freedom Hall's pool is a home away from home.
"During the state season we train for meets here," Lindauer explained. "This past spring and summer, I swam here a lot with the Barracuda Swim Club."
The Cyclones will return to action next in a make-up meet at Bristol. They will take on both the home team Vikings and a swim team that represents Morristown's high schools.