So how confident was Hilltoppers coach Chris Coraggio going into the Saturday afternoon finals of the Region 1 Swimming Championships at Viking Hall?
“I brought an extra set of clothes,” said Coraggio, still soaking wet from his celebratory dip after his team secured the girls’, boys’ and combined titles with relative ease.
After a sub-par performance in the morning preliminaries, the Hilltoppers picked up the pace in the finals by winning 16 of 22 events.
Science Hill tallied 802 points in the combined team total, easily outpacing Dobyns-Bennett’s second-place score of 434. Sullivan South finished third with 348 points.
“This morning I felt like we swam a little bit flat, quite honestly,” Coraggio said. “This afternoon, 43 out of 69 swims were improvements over this morning and the rest were actually very, very close.”
The Hilltoppers were led by star senior Kyle Owens, who won the 200-yard individual medley and swam on a pair of winning relay teams.
Science Hill also had three swimmers qualify for the state tournament Saturday. Lauren McIntyre qualified in the 500 freestyle with a time of 6:23.08, Justin Hopland made it in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:10.79 and C.J. Jenkins qualified in the 50 freestyle thanks to a 23.82 swim.
D-B made a strong showing with a second-place finish overall. The Indians also were second in both the girls’ and the boys’ competitions.
“We were happy,” Indians coach Nathan Love said. “We swam unbelievably well today.”
As they have all year long, Olivia Loveless and Stuart Owens led the way for the Tribe.
Loveless won the 100 breaststroke in convincing fashion over Science Hill’s Sam Owens. Loveless’ time of 1:10.81 put her nearly half a second ahead of Owens.
Love credited the example set by Loveless and Stuart Owens, as well as the leadership of all the team’s seniors, in helping D-B improve this season.
“It gives everybody something to shoot for,” Love said. “It helps my younger swimmers drive a little bit further.”
D-B also had three swimmers qualify for the state meet. Kendra Brooks qualified in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:15.25 and the 500 free with a time of 6:07.24.
Molly Payne’s time of 1:10.71 was good enough to qualify her for the 100 backstroke while Jordan Skeen also qualified in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.
South’s overall score put the Rebels ahead of Tennessee High by just three points.
“I was very pleasantly surprised with how well we swam, South coach Brooke Robbins said. “We actually swam better today than we did tonight.”
South’s Brad Wight won the 500 freestyle in a convincing fashion with a time of 5:17.92 — nearly 25 seconds better than the field.
The Rebels also had a couple more swimmers qualify for the state meet. Dustin Gardner qualified in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:11.58 while Teagan Wood made the grade in the 50 free (27.47) and the 100 back (1:12.16).