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AquaDogs repeat as ‘city champs’
FHS 80 points behind to take 2nd, Webb 3rd

Saturday, Feb. 4, was another Dog Day evening for opponents of the Bearden High School swim and dive team. Led by multiple first-place finishers A.J. Tipton, Cameron Higdon and Jordan Bondurant, the defending combined team state champion AquaDogs won its second consecutive Knox-area Interscholastic Swim League “city meet” title at the University of Tennessee’s Student Aquatic Center.Bearden outlasted runnerup and archrival Farragut 775-695 among a 26-team field from as far away as Hixson High School in Hamilton County.

“It was a great day for our team,” BHS head coach Evan Nylander said. “We’re hitting our stride at the perfect time.”

Webb School of Knoxville, going through an emotional last part of the week with the death of junior student/athlete Eric Encarnacion (see page 1), finished third with 673.50 points.

Tipton was champion in the 100-yard butterfly (:51.25), 500-freestyle (4:37.99) and as a leg on the first-place 200 freestyle relay (1:29.51 as a team).

“We had a good time doing it. ... We all swam really well, and I think we’re all really proud, really pleased,” Tipton said. “We knew it was going to be close, but we all came out and did our jobs.”

Bondurant and Higdon, also legs on the 200 free relay, also won the 50 free (Bondurant, :22.74) and 200 individual medley (Higdon, 1:58.59). Andrew Frost was also a leg on the first-place relay.

AquaDog Annie Broome, a state record holder and defending state champ who signed earlier this season with the University of Maryville, won the 100 butterfly (:56.69).

Farragut was led by Brad Jones’ double wins in the 200 free (1:44.14, barely missing the meet record) and 100 free (:47.66). Jessica Hill was champion in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.21).

Second place individual finishers for Farragut were Hill in the 200 IM and Rachel Bellich in the 50 free. For Bearden, Broome took second in the 100 backstroke.

Third-place individual finishers for Bearden were Emily Jacobssen in the girls 200 free and 100 backstroke, Hunter Owen in the boys 100 fly, Higdon in the 500 free, Cliff Robins in the 100 backstroke and Bo Fethe in the 100 breaststroke.

Farragut’s third-place individuals were Jessie Howard in the 50 free and Jordyn Pasley in the 100 free.

Other top relay finishes for Bearden were third in the girls 200 medley (Jacobssen, Broome, Brittany Oxley and Lindsay Goodman); second in the boys 200 medley (Robins, Owen, Fethe and Bondurant); second in the girls 200 free (Becca Jones, Jacobssen, Ashley Miller and Broome), and second in the boys 400 free (Higdon, Ben Royer, Owen and Tipton).

Farragut top relay finishers were the 200 medley team (second-place) of Laurel Chaney, Alicia Hemmer, Hill and Howard; the 200 medley team (third-place) of Drew Quinn, Ben Hyman, Cody Bennett and Garrett Boyd; the 200 free team of Howard, Pasley, Hemmer and Bellich; the second-place boys 200 free team of Boyd, Seth Carter, Eric Craig and Jones; the second-place girls 400 free team of Bellich, Pasley, Chaney and Hill, and the third-place boys 400 free team of Hyman, Carter, Michael James and Jones.

While BHS looks to repeat as state champ during the two-day state meet in Nashville Feb. 24-25, Nylander and Farragut skipper Mike Bowman both agree their teams and Webb will join Baylor School of Chattanooga and Brentwood as the five contenders.

“I think it’s going to be a big toss-up this year,” Bowman said, adding about his team, “This last week has been a huge turnaround from the rest of the season. They’ve been more enthusiastic, more into it.”


As for top 10 diving finishes, Bearden placed three girls: Tori Lamp fourth, Carly Reed fifth and Ruth Haun ninth. Kurtis Allen was the AquaDogs lone boys top 10 placer, taking eighth.

Farragut’s Kali Reynolds was sixth on the girls’ side, while Grant McCartney took fourth and Tony Gianeselli seventh among the boys.

Among other swimmers, Nylander praised the efforts of Daniel Maxwell and Jonathan Rudis in the 200 IM, Annie Rochelle in the 100 fly, Becca Jones in the 50 free and 100 breaststroke, Fionnie Wong in the 500 free, Ashley Miller and Jenny Jones and Ben Royer in the 100 free.

Royer finished eighth “with a lifetime best time.”

Bowman praised several of his freshman swimmers for exceeding expectations, including Carter.


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