Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan The Parkview boys swim team celebrates as the Panthers are named the Class AAAAAA State Champions at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta Saturday. It's the 10th time in school history Parkview has earned a boys team state swimming title, all since 1995.
ATLANTA -- For the second straight year, Parkview's Geoffrey Carter finished as runner-up in both his individual events at the state swimming championships.
But it may be the third-place finish that the senior brought in, along with teammates Dillon Kasson, Rory Martin and Peter Meadows, in the final event of the meet that Panther fans may be talking about for a long time.
That finish in the 400-yard freestyle in a time of 3:09.45 put Parkview over the top, helping the Panthers hold off Chattahoochee and Lassiter for the Class AAAAAA state team title Saturday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.
"(Third place) never felt so good," a jubilant Carter said while celebrating with his teammates after they claimed third in the 400 free. "It's unreal. We all swam hard. It's amazing. I couldn't be happier."
Neither could Parkview coach Jack Gayle after Parkview finished off the meet with 234 points, just eight points in front of runner-up Chattahoochee's total of 226 and 23 ahead of third place Lassiter's 211.
"I think this one's always going to have a special place because we fought and clawed and did everything we could to get it," Gayle said. "In the end, it came down to single digit points, and these guys get to walk way champions."
He not only saw his Panthers successfully defend last year's Class AAAAA title, but also claim their 10th championship since 1995, and give a Gwinnett school the team title for the 13th straight season.
And they did it without a first-place finish in any individual event, with the exception of Ben Warren's title in the diving competition earlier in the day.
"We were able to get in there where we needed to. When you're swimming against teams as talented as Chattahoochee and Lassiter, you have to. Those guys are incredible.
"We told the guys, 'You're got to maintain your positions. ... We've got to maintain these points going into the final event."
But as valuable as the 400 free team's performance was in Parkview's win, it was the previous event -- the 100 breastroke -- that was perhaps the decisive event.
Carter, who had finished second in the 200 individual medley earlier in the day, took second with a time of 56.84 seconds, just .04 of a second behind state champion Nick LaMontagne of Brookwood's time of 56.80.
But he was hardly alone in scoring points for the Panthers in the event, as teammate Nathan Jones picked up valuable team points with his fourth-place finish in 58.16, while Sam Kim also contributed by winning the "B" heat final to put Parkview in the lead for the first time in the meet. Kim also led a group of four county schools to place in the top 10 in the team standings, with North Gwinnett taking fourth, Collins Hill sixth, Mill Creek ninth and Brookwood 10th.
The Panthers also got a boost from the 200 medley relay team of Meadows, Jones, Martin and Christopher Rogers, which finished as runner-up in its event in a time of 1:34.80.
While Parkivew didn't have any individual state champions, there was one other Gwinnett individual joining LaMontagne atop the podium throughout the evening.
Chief among those swimmers was Mill Creek's Chris Powell, who swept the freestyle sprint races, taking 50 free in a time of 20.66 seconds and the 100 free in 45.06 seconds.
The latter race, in which he out-touched rival and friend Michael Ragan of Dacula to win by just 23 hundredths of a second, was the one in which the Hawks' senior was most pleased.
"My best friend Michael Ragan, he almost killed me in that race," Powell said. "It's unbelievable. He had a bad race in prelims, and in the finals, he really showed up. And it's fun (winning) it senior year, too. I kept saying, 'Last one, fast one.'"