'Cudas prove feisty  in loss to Aqua Jets

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   It was a good outing for the Elizabethton Barracuda swim team, as it gave the Aqua Jets Aquatics Club some stiff competition in their swim meet on Tuesday at EHS.
   The Aqua Jets of Sullivan County are top ranked when it comes to local area swim teams, but the Barracudas hung tough while losing a close decision in overall team scores.
   "I'm really surprised that we hung as close as we did, but I don't think they brought their whole team, so we can't get too confident going into the championship meet," said Elizabethton Barracudas coach Jonell Johnson. "The Aqua Jets and Rogersville are probably the two best teams and will finish one and two, but third place is still up for grabs right now."
   In the first event of the evening, Mitch Plunkett turned in a time of 1:56.23 in the boys 10 & under 100 meter to give the Aqua Jets the opening lead.
   It was T.J. Wood and Shannon Holt taking the top two spots for the Aqua Jets in the girls 10 & under 100 meters, while Beth Dowdy and Elaine Hitch added points in the girls 12 & under class.
   Marcus Hill was the first Barracuda to score a first-place finish, in the boys 14 & under 100 meters, but it was the Aqua Jets winning the girls 14 & under with a time of 1:04.00 by Kristiana Feeser.
   Michael Wolford was first in the boys open 100 meters, but it was Alesha Padgett coming back for Elizabethton in the girls open with a close victory over Carey Smith.
   "I've seen a lot of improvement, and some of the swimmers who are the best have been getting dusted by some of these new swimmers," said Jonell Johnson. "I think they're finding they have some talent and hopefully it will pay-off and they'll choose swimming as a sport during the school year."
   Preston Davis and Zeke Miller were first and second for the Barracudas in the boys 8 & under 25-meter freestyle, while Katie Pless and Sydney Farthing took top two honors in the girls 8 & under.
   "Everybody has worked so hard and the championships are coming up, so with everyone getting first-place I think we all have improved," said Pless.
   Evan Broyles of the Aqua Jets was the fastest in the boys 10 & under 25-meter freestyle, but Danielle Miller responded by winning the girls 10 & under for the Barracudas.
   The Aqua Jets won both the girls and boys 12 & under 50-meter freestyle event, but it was Justin Stanley finishing first for the Barracudas in the boys 14 & under class.
   Charlotte Kramer had an impressive run for the Aqua Jets in the girls 14 & under 50 meter freestyle, while her teammate Wolford finished first in the boys event.
   "I did pretty good, for I never came in last in any of the events, and I finished first in several of them," said Kramer. "I'm getting ready to go to Sullivan South, so I'm looking forward to that, and it should be a lot of fun."
   Taylor Mollish and Keely Hamm were first and second for the Barracudas in the girls open 50-meter freestyle, as both competitors finished with in a very close heat.
   Davis and Miller were at the top of the charts for the boys 8 & under 25-meter breaststroke, while Alexis McWilliams was a first place finisher for the Aqua Jets in the girls competition.
   It was the Aqua Jets winning both the boys and girls events in the 10 & under 25 meter breaststroke.
   Jared Jordan placed first for the Barracudas in the boys 12 & under 50-meter breaststroke, and it was the Aqua Jets winning the girls event with Elaine Hitch.
   "My swim coach has been pushing me a lot, so I really wanted to make her proud," said Jordan. "It's really fun getting together with friends and swimming here."
   Stanley scored his second victory of the evening when he turned in a time of 54.70 in boys 14 & under 50-meter breaststroke, but it was the Aqua Jets dominating the girls event with Kristiana Feeser and Kramer.
   "I swim five days a week and I've been with the swim team now for the past five years," said Feeser. "I love all my teammates and coaches."
   Rob Reiss won the boys open 50 meter breaststroke while Amanda Walker cruised to a victory in the girls class, with the Barracudas taking both events.
   "Everyday it's pretty much the same, but the summer training helps a lot and keeps me in shape for next year," said Walker. "We've got a really good coach to teach and help us."
   In the boys 8 & under 25-meter backstroke, Wesley Holt turned in the best time at 35.71 for the Aqua Jets, but it was Pless coming in first for the Barracudas in the girls class.
   Mitch Plunkett was the first person to finish in the boys 10 & under 25-meter backstroke, while teammate Emilyn Wilson won the girls 10 & under.
   Tyler Plunkett was fastest in the boys 12 & under 50-meter backstroke, with Hitch dominating the girls event for the Aqua Jets.
   In the boys 14 & under backstroke, it was Stanley placing first, and Kramer finished first in the match-up with the girls.
   Wolford scored first-place points for the Aqua Jets in the boys open 50-meter backstroke, while swimming coach Ruth Ann Johnson beat out Carey Smith in the girls class.
   "We were up against a much bigger team, so I think a lot of them were psyched out," said Ruth Ann. "We've done a lot since last year, and I think that's because of more advertising, so we've got a lot more kids and spirit."
   Davis finished first in the boys 8 & under 25-meter butterfly, and McWilliams won in the girls competition.
   Mitch Plunkett and Shannon Holt won both the boys and girls 10 & under 25-meter butterfly, while Carin Graves added another victory for the girls 12 & under 50 meter.
   The Aqua Jets continued to pace the way in the butterfly events, with Teeser taking the girls 14 & under.
   "They did really well. We had some good swims and finishes, so I've been real happy with them overall," said Aqua Jets Aquatics Club swim coach Michael Price.
   The Barracudas were finally able to score some first-place points in both the boys and girls open 50 meter butterfly with Reiss and Walker becoming event winners.
   Elizabethton won the girls 8 & under 100-meter relay freestyle, as so did the boys in the 10 & under class.
   The Aqua Jets were first in the girls 10 & under 100-meter freestyle, and they repeated success in the girls 12 & under 200-meter event.
   The Barracudas was awarded first in the boys 14 & under 200-meter freestyle, while the Aqua Jets claimed first in the girls contest.
   It was first-place finishes for the Aqua Jets in the boys and girls open 200 meter freestyle relay.
   In the 100-meter mixed medley relay, it was the Barracudas winning the boys competition, while the Aqua Jets took first for the girls.
   "It's coming up on the end of the summer, and there are still a few things we need to polish off before the championship meet, but I'm pleased with the progress," said Price.