BRISTOL, Tenn. - In the final dress rehearsal before next week's Northeast Tennessee Conference Championships, Science Hill's swimmers unleashed another star performance.
Led by sophomore Kyle Owens, who shattered a 16-year-old pool record by over three seconds, the Hilltoppers left the field in their wake to win the Big 6's Swim Meet Thursday night at Tennessee High.
Science Hill swept both the girls and boys titles, racking up a combined team score of 703, easily putting them ahead of Sullivan South's total of 525.
Owens said breaking a pool record in the 100-yard backstroke set back in 1991 was news to him.
"I'm happy I beat it, but I didn't know what the record was until they said it (over the loudspeaker)," Owens said.
So Owens found out along with everybody else when it was announced that his time of 52:04 had shattered the old mark of 55:13.
Justin Loudermilk also had a good night for the Hilltoppers, claiming a win in the 200 freestyle and helping the 200 medley relay team to a victory.
"We had a good team last year, but we're a lot stronger this year," Loudermilk said.
While Owens said the Hilltoppers were swimming a bit tired, he expects the team to be ready in time for the conference meet next Friday.
"We're looking great," he said. "Our coach is killing us in practice, but we'll have a couple easy workouts to get rested for next week."
Sullivan South overcame illness to pull off a second-place finish overall.
The Rebels used inspired performances by Marshall Couch and Brad Wight to finish second in the boys' team competition, while the girls' team finished third.
Wight won the 500 freestyle and finished fourth in the 200 freestyle while Couch finished third in the 200 freestyle and helped the 200 medley relay team to a second-place finish.
South coach Brooke Robbins said Couch and Wight's emergence will send her back to the drawing board as she decides who will swim where in next week's conference meet.
"I'm excited for it," she said. "We had a few surprises tonight. We had two more qualify for state and one more make the NET cut."
While most coaches like for their teams to be unselfish, sharing has been at the root of the problem for a very ill group of Rebel swimmers.
"They like to share things," Robbins said. "But they've been passing around walking pneumonia."
As Sullivan South looks to get healthy and challenge Science Hill next week, Dobyns-Bennett is focused on rebuilding and ending the year on a positive note.
The Indians finished fifth overall but got a great performance out of Greg Cathers.
Cathers won both the 50 and the 100 freestyle, helping the boys' team to a fourth-place finish.
Not bad for a guy who's spent most of the year recovering from tendonitis in both of his elbows.
"I'm still slower than I was last year, but I'm happy with it," Cathers said.
Despite a lack of wins at the big meets so far, Cathers said the Indians are improving every day.
"We're a small team and this is a rebuilding year," he said. "But we're doing pretty good. We're not winning a lot of big stuff, but we're beating a lot of personal records."
Tennessee High seemed right at home in its home pool, finishing third overall on the strength of a second-place finish by the girls' team.
Brittany Estep swam a time of 1:08.76 for the Vikings to win the 100 breaststroke, breaking her own pool record set last year.
The NET Conference Swim Meet will be held next Friday and Saturday at Tennessee High School.