Cougars top Cyclones at swim meet

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   Sullivan Central topped Elizabethton 69-46 on the boys' side and 65-49 in girls' action at the opening home meet for Cyclone swimmers on Tuesday night.
   Central's Andrew Franklin highlighted the night for the visiting Cougar aquatics, winning the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:00.63, setting a new school record.
   "I'm extremely proud of my kids," said Cougar head coach Dustin Williams. "They've worked hard. Andrew Franklin especially has done a good job for us this year. He has consistently gotten better the last two years.
   "We have some young swimmers who are still developing, but they're getting better. If they continue to provide depth for the team we should be consistently better as the year goes along. I'm pleased with where the team is right now."
   Despite the final points, the Cyclones had plenty of strong performances of their own. Evan Lindauer came through in the 200 boys freestyle, giving the Cyclones their first win of the evening and helped score points both as part of the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams.
   "I'm still not up to the time I was last year," said Lindauer. "My time needs to come up to make the state and I would like to help get our relay teams to the state."
   Lindauer also scored second in the long distance 500 freestyle, an event he had little prior experience in.
   "I was not looking forward to swimming that," Lindauer admitted. "Especially after swimming the 200. Before the meet even started, I had no energy. I said a quick prayer before I swam and it turned out easier than I thought it would be. I had only swam it (the 500) a couple of times before. I don't really like it, I prefer the 200."
   Senior Charlie Crowe continued to pace the boys' individual efforts with wins in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24:26 and in the 100 freestyle, which he won by over a lap and a half with a blistering 55:56.
   Blake Dugger also scored an individual win on the boys' side, taking top honors in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:05.27.
   "After winning the 100 free, Charlie swam the 100 backstroke just for exhibition," said Cyclone head coach Jonell Johnson. "He had his best time and almost qualified for the state. He now has the choice of competing in the state of the 50 free, the 100 free or the 100 backstroke.
   "Evan coming in second in the 500 was pretty exciting. That was a close race and he seems to be taking after his older brother Jeremy, who would do some of those long distance events. Blake winning the 100 fly almost one second off the state qualifying time was terrific. We have the possibility of having someone from Elizabethton swimming in a fly event at state, and I don't know the last time we've had that happen."
   Dugger was the runner-up in the 100 breaststroke behind the Cougars' Matt Buckles with the Cyclones' Eric Crowe coming in third.
   On the girls' side, Sarah Key led the Lady Cyclones with two race wins, one in the shortest event, the 50 freestyle, which she officially tied with Central's Brooke Worley, and the other in the 500 freestyle, the longest event.
   The night also marked the first career win for Allissa Walker in the 100 freestyle. Walker, a sophomore, is a rookie at the sport with her only prior experience coming as a member of the Barracuda swim club out of Johnson City.
   "I'm really excited," said Walker. "I didn't really expect to win it. I didn't know if I could make the swift turns. My practice time was 1:17 and I beat that by about five seconds. I'm really pleased as this is my first year on the team. Before that, I had only swam with a club for about six months."
   Her twin sister, Audra, came up just short in a bid to make it a 1-2 Walker finish, getting edged out by Central's Worley. The sisters were also part of the 200 freestyle relay team that won their event, along with Linsday Norris and Whitney Nelson.
   The 200 freestyle was another strong event for the Lady Cyclones with Audra Walker placing second and Ariel Rockett notching a third place finish behind Central's Andrea Plunkett.
   The Cougars' Plunkett was a thorn in the side to the Lady Cyclones in the 100 backstroke as well topping both Norris and Savannah Davis, who duplicated the 2-3 finish of Walker and Rockett.
   "I was real happy with the girls performance," said Johnson. "I'm glad to have the Walker sisters. They've been a real asset to our team this year. Allissa and Audra in the 100 freestyle gave us some needed points.
   "Sarah Key in the 500 free, it was the first time she had swam that. Last year, it was only a 200 event. She really stepped up swimming the 500 and got a win there. The 50 freestyle was awfully close, although her time was officially better, we decided to call it a tie. Sarah is really coming on strong."
   The Cyclones return to action this Saturday when they travel to Kingsport to participate in the East Tennessee Classic at Dobyns-Bennett High School starting at noon.