Abingdon swims past EHS

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   Abingdon took wins in both the boys and girls division in a dual swim meet at Elizabethton High School on a night when EHS senior swimmers were honored.
   The Falcons won the boys side of the meet 85-60 and the girls side by a score of 103-41.
   The results couldn't dampen the boys team having its four senior leaders -- Evan Lindauer, Blake Dugger, Eric Crowe and Craig Shaw -- shown appreciation for their contributions to the program.
   "It is definitely a special group of seniors," remarked EHS head coach Jonell Johnson. "Blake and Evan, I've had for four years. When I lose Eric and Craig, that's losing our entire relay team.
   "Next year will be rough without them. I've had a Lindauer every year since I started coaching starting with Diane, Jeremy and then Evan. I've had a Crowe with Charlie and Eric on the team the last five years. Both families have traditions of swimming well here. It's going to be sad without them."
   Shaw was the senior with the most to celebrate. He achieved a goal of qualifying for the state meet with a 2:09.3 run in the 200 freestyle.
   "It's been a big goal all my high school career," said Shaw about making the state meet. "All my friends have done it. Evan and Blake pushed me hard everyday in practice. Thanks to them for their help, thanks to God.
   "It's meant a lot to be a part of this group of seniors. We practice real hard together during swim season and we hang out during the offseason. These are some of the best friends I have and that makes high school more enjoyable."
   Dugger was the top overall performer for EHS winning both the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle events.
   Lindauer came up on the short end of two thrilling finishes. He lost the 200 freestyle by only half a second and was only a quarter of a second off in the 100 breaststroke.
   Crowe's night was highlighted by a second place swim in the 50 freestyle. As a group the seniors formed a 400 freestyle relay team that easily won the meet's final event.
   One of the biggest surprises for the EHS boys was first year swimmer Garrett Johnson, who put forth a strong third-place finish in the 100 freestyle.
   Justin Conway also had a top finish, being the runner-up in the 100 butterfly.
   Sarah Burgoyne was the speediest of the EHS girls. She took first place in the 50 freestyle sprint and also won the 500 freestyle endurance race.
   The 500 came as a big surprise with it being Burgyone's first time competiting in the event. In addition, she came only seven seconds short of qualifying for the state.
   "I told her after she swam that, she should start thinking about swimming distance," said Johnson. "The 50 freestyle is quite the elusive event. You drop times fast, but it's such a short event that anything more than a second away is huge. It's hard to drop time in the 50 free.
   "I would like to see her in some of those distance events. I'm real proud of her."
   The team's leading scorer Ruth Ann Johnson also had a productive night. She placed second in the 200 freestyle, was third in the 100 breaststroke and capped off the evening by helping the 400 freestyle relay team finish second.
   "I feel pretty good," said the younger Johnson. "I dropped a lot of time in the 200 freestyle and am only three seconds away from the state. I didn't swim in the 200 I.M. today because my mom (coach) wanted me to take a break from that.
   "I'm only about one second away from qualifying in the 200 I.M. and I feel pretty confident about that. It just takes hard work."
   Other high finishes came courtesy of Amber Garland with a runner-up in the 100 freestyle, Sarah Keys with a third place in the 50 freestyle and Lindsay Norris with a third in the 200 I.M.
   The big winners on the night, however were the visiting Falcons. In her sixth year, coach Lee Ann Geisenhaver has her Abingdon squad marching ahead toward the Virginia state meet.
   "I think the team had a great meet," said Gisenhaver. "Karen Martin qualified for the state meet in the 100 breaststroke. Daniel Kidd dropped significantly in the 500 freestyle and Matthew Rodriquez dropped his 200 I.M. time."
   Abingdon will participate in a meet next Tuesday at Bristol's Virginia High School. For the Cyclones, they enter the competitive waters again next Monday with a visit to Greeneville High.