History day for Cyclone swim team

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   BRISTOL -- Saturday, February 7 turned out to be a historic day for the Elizabethton High School boys' swimming team. The Cyclones pulled off a major shocker, finishing third in the Northeast Tennessee Regional Swim Meet at Viking Hall.
   The only teams to beat the EHS boys squad were event champion Dobyns-Bennett and the Morristown Flyers, a combined effort from Morristown East and Morristown West high schools.
   "I can barely contain myself," said Elizabethton head coach Jonell Johnson. "I'm just about ready to cry. It's a lot of hard work. Seven years it's been rewarding, but it's finally coming together.
   "To be in a spot with a tiny school in Elizabethton compared to Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill, to compete with them. We're not used to beating teams like Tennessee High, Science Hill and Sullivan South. I'm thrilled."
   In beating the three teams Johnson mentioned, it meant knocking off the host schools of the last Regional meets as well as their biggest rival in traditional power Science Hill. They also bested teams from Sullivan Central, Sullivan East and Family Christian Academy.
   "We beat Science Hill once this season and they beat us once before today," said Johnson. "Beating them was great. Anytime Elizabethton can beat Science Hill in any sport, we're happy."
   The Cyclones were led by Blake Dugger, who placed third in the 200 Individual Medley and sixth in the 100 butterfly. Evan Lindauer was seventh place in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 100 backstroke.
   Matt Bowers provided a solid showing finishing sixth in the 100 breaststroke and eighth in the 200 I.M. Craig Shaw also had a sixth place finish in the 100 backstroke.
   Top tens were also produced by Eric Crowe, ninth in the 50 freestyle, Gerrit Coetzee, ninth in the 500 freestyle and Jacob May, tenth in the 500 freestyle. Forrest Gentry missed the top 10 by only one spot, finishing 11th in the 500 freestyle.
   Garrett Johnson may have been the surprise of the meet and the entire season. The freshman swimmer had a pair of top tens, seventh in the 50 freestyle and 10th in the 100 freestyle. His time of 1:00.27 in the 100 was an amazing 25-second improvement over his time at the start of the season.
   "I've improved a lot," said Johnson. "At the beginning of the season I could barely do a 50-meter pool time. Now I'm ranked seventh in the district.
   "I've surprised myself. I had not planned on doing that well being a freshman. I'm only a second and a half off the state time. Most of the seniors weren't that fast as freshmen. They keep encouraging me to do my best time."
   In the final event with Elizabethton trying to hang on to third place over host Tennessee High, the 400 freestyle relay team came up with an outstanding performance. Dugger made up three lengths in the pool on his first lap, while Lindauer swam a time quick enough to qualify for the state in his 100 meter distance.
   For the girls, EHS finished seventh in the standings, but they received many great performances from their young swimmers.
   Ruth Ann Johnson finished sixth in the 200 I.M. and 13th in the 500 freestyle. She barley missed the state qualifying time in the 200, making it a bittersweet day.
   Sarah Burgoyne was especially strong in the 100 freestyle, finishing ninth out of 39 swimmers. She also had a 12th place in the 50 freestyle with 61 girls scored in that event.
   Sarah Key added a 22nd place finish in the 50 free and a 15th place in the 100 free. Amber Garland was 23rd in the 100 free and 13th in the 100 backstroke. Freshman Darby Crawford finished 19th in the 200 freestyle as well.
   Danielle Maughon added needed punch for the girls. A disqualification robbed her of a 15th place finish in the 100 butterfly, but she rebounded to post a 7th place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
   "This is my first year and I like it," said Maughon. "I didn't know if I would be any good, but I've practiced to get better. I didn't even know the strokes at the first of the season.
   "Before one meet, coach Johnson told me that I was going to swim the 100 butterfly and I was freaking out. I had no idea what to expect. Once I did it, it was hard, but I'm getting better at it. I'm so nervous before I swim it, but after I do it, I feel so good."
   In the combined scores, the Cyclones finished sixth in the overall standings. Dobyns-Bennett easily took first place with 505 points. Morristown finished a surprising second with girls division winner Science Hill rounding out the top three.