Dalton Swimmers Win CASL City Meet

Country Club's Ce Ce Turner, Dalton's Tyler Stephenson Fugate Scholarship Winners

Saturday, July 14, 2018 - by John Hunt
Stuart Heights swimmers hold a pep rally.
Stuart Heights swimmers hold a pep rally.
- photo by M. A. Locke

Chances are really good that Dalton coach Jason Mezaros will sleep good Saturday night.

No question he is dog tired after directing the Chattanooga Area Swim League’s annual Bill Caulkins City Meet, but he will probably sleep with a smile on his face after his Dolphins captured the team championship Saturday night at Fort Oglethorpe’s Arlene Crye Municipal Pool.

The Dolphins finished fourth out of five teams in the CASL’s Blue Division, but it’s obvious they have a lot of depth and a whole bunch of quality swimmers.

Dalton had a lead of 80 points over the Ooltewah Tidal Waves following Friday’s action.  The difference was 146.5 points at the end as the Dolphins finished an exciting two-day meet with 2,201points.

Ooltewah was second with 1,954.5 while defending champ Signal Mountain was third with 1,929.  Stuart Heights was fourth with 1,907.5 while the Country Club Wavemakers were a distant fifth with 1,179.5 points.

It was plenty hot and humid for most of the day on Saturday, but things cooled off nicely after an early-evening thunder storm delayed the action for about an hour.

There were nine records broken during Saturday’s finals, including four by Fairyland’s Ellie Taliaferro and two by Stuart Heights’ Ellie Waldrep.  Ooltewah’s Keilah Holliman broke her own record in the 25 free with a time of 19.01 seconds.

Red Bank’s Easton Brooks and Sam Powe of Stuart Heights were the other record breakers.

Taliaferro, an energetic and talented 14-year-old rising freshman at GPS who is perhaps the most fierce competitor in this league, broke one record on Friday despite being sick most of the week.

Things were a little better on Saturday as she broke the records for the 13-14 50 fly and 50 free in the preliminary rounds before rewriting both in the finals.

Taliaferro was the only swimmer on Saturday to win three events while five others won two each, including Red Bank's Brooks, Ooltewah's Noah Holliman and Jed Holliman, Stuart Heights' Waldrep and Dalton's Roman Valdez.

Waldrep broke records in the 50 fly with a time of 25.27 seconds then a bit later in the 50 back with a time of 25.11 seconds.

Red Bank’s Brooks reset the standard in the 6 and under 25 free with as time of 18.09 seconds while Powe won the 50 back with a new mark of 25.05 seconds.

Dalton’s Mezaros said that this was the final leg of a Triple Crown as his team calls it after the Dalton High School team won the region and state meet before this weekend.  More competition is just ahead on a state level for these youngsters, but they came ready to swim this weekend.

The results just served as proof they do much better in bigger meets when they can take advantage of their depth than in a dual meet when only two individuals and one relay can score points.

“We knew that we were bringing a strong team to the city meet, but most of our kids swim year round and this is a fun event for us.  This is just a warmup for the coming weeks, but our kids wanted to win and we were able to pull it off.

“I’m really proud of them and I love’em all, but we hold them to a high expectation and we challenge them every day,” the veteran coach added.

Ooltewah’s Todd Jones felt really good about finishing as the runner-up, but he’s even more confident about his team’s chances next summer.

“I think we got second and I’m really happy with what we did this weekend, but we just have to come back next year and win it all as we’re only losing one senior boy from our entire team,” he said before knowing what the final scores were.

“For the most part, we executed our game plan, but it’s nothing but excitement for the future of Ooltewah swimming.  But we came down here this weekend, gave it our best shot and had a whole lot of fun.  That’s what it’s all about,” he concluded.

Jessica Klotz is one of the coaches for Stuart Heights.  She too was happy with the way her his responded.

“I thought we had a great meet across the board as we swam hard from beginning to end.  That’s really all we could ask for,” she said.

Signal Mountain coach Jake Sosna isn’t used to finishing fourth in this meet as his Green Giants have probably won more City Meet titles than any other team in the league.

“We were in fourth before the day began, but this was one of the best final days we’ve ever had at this meet,” he began.

“We’ve gotten in the habit of thinking we’re going to win every year, but we’re human and have a lot to work on.  We brought it home today and did enough damage to make a few other teams sweat a little.  But we had some youngsters suck it up for the team.  I don’t think anyone thought we’d be as close as we were,” he concluded.

JENNIFER FUGATE SCHOLARSHIP winners included Country Club's Ce Ce Turner and Dalton's Tyler Stephenson.  The award, which includes a check of $500 for the next four years, is given in memory of a young lady who died unexpectedly in 1986 at the age of 14.  She was a standout for the Ringgold Tiger Sharks and her parents have been awarding these scholarships for many years since.

Turner is a 2018 GPS graduate who will be attending Mississippi State in the fall with plans to major in Fashion Design and Merchandising.  She's been on the GPS-McCallie team for the past 10 years and a key contributor for the Wavemakers for the last seven where she's been the high-point scorer for five of the past six years.

Stephenson swims for the Dolphins, but he graduated from Silverdale Baptist Academy this spring with honors and was honored with the superlative of Most Likely To Succeed.  He's been an Erlanger volunteer among many other outside interests and he'll be attending Berry College in the fall.

The remaining nominees for this prestigious award included Fairyland teammates Carley Braman and Ethan Bevill, Ridgeside's Jack Fitzsimmons, Ooltewah's Jonathan Boyd, the Waterdogs' Katie Estes, Catoosa's Regan Wingrove, Signal Mountain teammates Laney Jenkins and Garrison Wheeler and Dalton's Alex Mashburn.  

The remaining nominees included Catoosa's Rylee O'Donnell and Josie White of Stuart Heights.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)


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