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Swimming Roundup: Lambert girls place 3rd at state; 8 Forsyth teams finish top 10
02082023 SWIMMING
The Lambert girls swim team poses for a photo after finishing third in the Class 7A state meet Wednesday at Georgia Tech. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

Lambert's girls and boys swim teams headlined strong all-around performances from Forsyth County schools in the Class 7A state meet Wednesday at Georgia Tech.

The Longhorns produced 285.5 points on the girls side to place third. Meanwhile, the Lambert boys (229 points) finished fifth.

“They’re really super fast kids, so I’m always expecting them to podium both times,” Longhorns head coach Kerry Langley said of her teams. “I am thrilled with both of them. I think every single one of my swimmers dropped time. Every single one. That just says something in and of itself.

“They overcame a lot this season. Overall, I couldn’t be more proud.”

Both the girls and boys standings featured four local teams inside the top nine.

In the girls, West Forsyth (168 points), South Forsyth (163) and Forsyth Central (159) came in 7-9th, respectively. On the other side, the War Eagles placed just behind the Longhorns in sixth, albeit by 42 points. Denmark (164) and West Forsyth (150) finished eighth and ninth, respectively.

The boys placement was a reversal of the Forsyth County Championships, where South Forsyth topped Lambert to capture the title.

“It was motivation, yeah, but I think they just wanted to swim and have fun,” Langley said of whether the Longhorns were specifically looking to beat their rivals. “We put our work in in the water. I pointed to the water and I said, ‘All of the work is right there. Let’s just go out and have fun, and do your best.’”

Noah Saylor helped lead Lambert into the top five, finishing runner-up in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 200 individual medley. Ford Johnson (4th in breast and 8th in 100 butterfly), Nathan Sayer (7th in IM and 9th in 500 free) and Youngjae Kim (6th 50 free and 11th in 100 free) also put together strong showings.

The quartet teamed up to finish third in the 200 medley relay and fourth in the 200 free relay.

It was the usual suspects — seniors Kara West, Ella Jones and Ally Zaleski — who paced the Longhorns girls team.

West and Denmark's Natalie Gilson went toe to toe in the 50 and 100 free races, taking the top-two spots in both. West got the better of Gilson in the 50, but Gilson returned the favor in the 100 by a margin of just 0.13 seconds to help the Danes finish 16th overall.

Jones landed top-five showings in the 200 free (2nd) and fly (4th). Zaleski matched her teammate by placing second in the breast and fourth in the IM.

The trio also made up three legs of Lambert's 200 free and 200 medley teams — each of which came in runner-up.

“It’s going to be a long time until I find a group of kids like that,” Langley said of her senior girls.

Langley is excited to see what Jones (Alabama), West (Auburn) and Zaleski (Xavier) do at the next level.

“They’re all going on and will do bigger and better things,” Langley said. “They’ll remember us. There’s nothing like high school state.”

South Forsyth's boys team was led by third-place showings from Matthew Malone in the fly and Derek Henry in the breast. The former also placed 19th in the 100 backstroke; the latter also wound up 14th in the 200 free.

Julian Van Peteghem earned top-15 placement in the 50 free (8th) and 100 free (15th).

All three War Eagles relay teams managed solid showings. The 200 free team placed fifth, while the 200 medley and 400 free squads each came in seventh.

Ryan Case, who garnered athlete of the meet selection at the county championship, showed out for the Denmark boys.

Individually, the senior placed second in the 50 free and seventh in the 100 free. Case also contributed heavily to the Danes' runner-up 200 free relay team and fourth-place 400 free relay squad.

Other relay members included Brandon Cresap (5th in fly and 12th in 200 free) and Daniel Goshko (8th in back and 18th in 100 free).

West Forsyth received a stellar showing from sophomore Cade Anderson, who placed fourth in the IM and fifth in the back. Ocean Gorecki added two top-15 finishes, coming in 11th in the back and 15th in the fly.

Both Wolverines featured on a fifth-place 400 free relay team.

Brock Norie added a 10th-place showing in the 1M dive for West Forsyth, which also saw Michelle Cummo finish fourth and Rayann Helms wind up ninth in the girls diving competition.

As for the rest of the Wolverines, who improved upon placing fourth in the girls standings of the county meet, Laci Sterkenburg and Sarah Luskus provided key contributions. Sterkenburg was fifth in the back and seventh in the fly, while Luskus was fourth in the breast and ninth in the IM.

West Forsyth landed sixth in the 200 medley relay and 12th in the 200 free relay.

While the South Forsyth girls finished five points back of West Forsyth, the War Eagles still put together double-digit top-15 performances, including in all three relays.

Kara Cullinan had the best individual showing, finishing eighth in the 500 free in addition to an 11th-place finish in the 200 free. Charlotte Tully put together similar displays in the back (9th) and IM (10th).

Agata Puchala was 12th in the fly and 13th in the breast. Meagan Davis finished a little bit ahead of Puchala in the breast, placing 11th in the event.

In the relays, South Forsyth placed sixth (400 free), seventh (200 medley) and 15th (200 free).

The Forsyth Central girls moved up one spot to ninth in the standings after finishing fourth in the 400 free relay — the final event of the evening. The Bulldogs also produced a strong fifth-place showing in the 200 medley relay.

Caroline Scharff shined by placing fourth in the back and sixth in the IM. Anna Cesario produced solid displays in the 100 free (8th) and 200 free (9th). Payton Koman chipped in a 10th-place finish in the 50 free.

North Forsyth boys finish 16th

Michael Rinaldi and Owen Cooper paced the North Forsyth boys in their 16th-place showing during the Class 6A state swim meet Friday at Georgia Tech.

Rinaldi, a junior, finished eighth in both of the 100 free and 200 individual medley. Cooper, a freshman, placed 11th in the 50 free and 13th in the 100 free.

Both Raiders helped the school's freestyle relay teams land top-15 finishes, coming in ninth in the 200 and 14th in the 400. North Forsyth also received points in the 200 medley relay, placing 15th.

Trey Jackson's 18th-place finish in the 100 backstroke rounded out the scoring on the boys side, as the Raiders compiled 106 total points.

North Forsyth's girls team placed 21st with 33 points, with the freestyle relay squads coming in 12th in the 200 and 18th in the 400.

Individually, Lilly Clark came in 12th in the back.

East Forsyth girls place 15th

In Saturday's Class 1A-5A state swim meet, the East Forsyth girls landed top-15 placement in the 4A-5A standings.

During the event at Georgia Tech, the Broncos used scoring finishes in the three relays and a strong day from Riley Loftus to accumulate 88 points for the 15th-place showing.

East Forsyth wound up 10th in the 200 free relay, 13th in the 200 medley relay and 18th in the 400 free relay. Meanwhile, Loftus came in seventh in the 100 breaststroke and eight in the 200 individual medley.

Abigail Hutcheson (13th in 50 free) and Kate Weber (20th in back) also posted top-20 finishes for the Broncos.

On the boys side, East Forsyth accumulated 38 points en route to placing 26th overall in the 4A-5A division.

Nearly half of the Broncos' points came from Emanuel Pitts. The sophomore wound up seventh in the 1M dive, which took place Jan. 31 at Westminster.

Saturday, William Allen (17th) and Jack Reber (19th) snuck into the top 20 in the 100 free.

Additionally, the East Forsyth 400 free team came in 13th.