By Jeff Keeling
A new swimming and diving showcase Saturday hosted by Science Hill High School’s swimming and diving team was a success in the water and out of it, head coach Chris Coraggio said. The Hilltoppers, who finished 2-1 on the girls side and 1-2 on the boys side in a triple dual format, saw several swimmers post impressive midseason results.
The Elite High School Swimming and Diving Showcase, held at the Kingsport Aquatic Center and sponsored by Tri-Cities Skin and Cancer, featured Science Hill, Baylor School (Chattanooga), L&N Stem Academy (Knoxville) and W.A. Hough (Cornelius, N.C.). Science Hill had a total of 11 top three performances by eight swimmers and divers, including wins from senior Harvard University commit Daniel Chang (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke) and senior Peyton Wilson (100 backstroke). All distances are in meters.
Both of Chang’s wins were good enough for automatic All-American times.
“The concept was to bring together several high caliber teams from outside the area who would usually not have the opportunity to compete against each other, let the kids go head-to-head, and have great competition leading to outstanding performances,” said Coraggio, who also heads up the Barracuda Swim Club of Northeast Tennessee.
Now, Coraggio said, the Toppers look toward regional, conference and state meets coming up over the next month-plus. “It’s time to get focused on end-of-season goals,” Coraggio said, adding that the inaugural showcase, “was a great opportunity to evaluate our athletes and make the necessary adjustments prior to the championship part of our seasons.”
More than 50 Science Hill swimmers competed Saturday. In addition to Chang and Wilson, other top performers included Jessica Green, Owen Devine, Heather Kudialis, Sutton Coffey, Lucas Mills and Lexi Gay. Another Johnson Citian who is home-schooled, Hannah Gerlock, also placed, finishing third in the 100 freestyle.
On the girls’ side, Green, a senior who has committed to swim at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University, finished second in both the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.
Kudialis was also second in two events, the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. Gay was third in the 100 breaststroke.
For the boys, Owen Devine, a junior, finished second in the 200 freestyle, Lucas Mills was third in the 100 butterfly and Sutton Coffey placed third in diving.
In team scoring, the Lady Toppers pulled out close wins over both Baylor (154-145) and L&N Stem (159-144), while losing to W.A. Hough 214-91. Hough was undefeated in both the boys and girls competitions. The boys defeated L&N Stem by a wide margin, 203-106, and lost narrowly to both Baylor (160-139) and Hough (163-141).
Coraggio said the meet was well-received. “I envision trying to make this something of a destination-type meet, where people are anxious to be invited to it like the Arby’s Classic and tournaments like that in basketball,” he said.
All Photos by Bart Nave. Photo galleries at: bart.ifp3.com