'Betsy falls to D-B in milestone swim meet

By Jeff Birchfield

   Despite suffering defeats on both the boys' and girls' sides, Thursday evening was a milestone night for the Elizabethton High School swim program.
   It marked the first time in school history that Upper East Tennessee powerhouse Dobyns-Bennett paid a visit to the EHS pool in a head-to-head meet.
   "We did pretty good," said D-B head coach Nathan Love. "We had some swimmers trying to make the state and this was a good opportunity. I'm glad Coach Johnson gave us the chance to come up here.
   "When she told me Dobyns-Bennett had never been here, I laughed at it. This is a good facility. I think it's a great place to swim."
   EHS head coach Jonell Johnson was equally pleased to have one of the top swim programs on this end of the state come to 'Betsy.
   "It was wonderful to have Dobyns-Bennett here," said Johnson. "They are used to hosting most of their meets, where they have all those facilities like the timing equipment and diving boards. It encourages our swimmers to know that a big team like that would come and swim with us. Coming here levels the playing field dramatically."
   The Indians won the event on the boys' side 89-51, and by a more convincing 109-39 score on the girls' side.
   The top male effort came from Kingsport swimmer Clint McDavid, a winner in both the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle. The D-B girls were led by Lauren Beuris, who copied the win in the 500 freestyle, but added a victory in the 100 breaststroke.
   The lone EHS swimmer to score a win in an individual event was Blake Dugger in the boys' 100 butterfly. Dugger's time of 1:09.11 bested the next best time by almost nine seconds.
   "It felt pretty good to win," said Dugger, who also finished second in the 200 individual medley. "But, I'm still pretty tired. These races are tough at the beginning of the season. The fly is probably my fastest event.
   "I'm looking forward to the rest of the year. Our team should be really good. I think we will be good by the end of the year. We can win more meets than we have in the past."
   Strong individual performances also came from Matt Bowers, runner-up in the 100 breaststroke and Garrett Johnson, the second place finisher in the 100 freestyle.
   Johnson also finished third in the 50 freestyle, while other third place efforts came from Eric Crowe in the 100 freestyle and Craig Shaw in both the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.
   The top EHS individual performance on the girls' side came from Ruth Ann Johnson with second place showings in both the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle.
   Another runner-up was recorded by Sarah Burgoyne in the 100 freestyle, as she finished three seconds behind D-B swimmer Hannah Cox.
   Burgoyne, Sarah Key and Allissa Walker each posted third place finishes in separate events, as did Danielle Maughon, who was third in two events.
   The experience of competing against a group this good can only help the Cyclones in future meets.
   "Today's meet was all about getting used to the distance races," said Johnson. "We went to the sprint meet over at South right before Thanksgiving, but we aren't yet used to swimming these long distances.
   "I had some of our new swimmers in events they didn't know if they could do. Facing Dobyns-Bennett and a team with those kinds of abilities should help us when we face smaller schools and give us a better chance of winning those kinds of meets."
   The EHS swimmers will take part in a six-team meet at Virginia High on Saturday before returning home next Monday to face J.J. Kelly.