Brookwood boys, girls dominate AAAAAAA for second straight year at state swimming

Mill Creek's Jake Magahey won the 500 freestyle with a national record time at the State Swim Meet Saturday night held at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Anthony Stalcup)

ATLANTA — Different people may define a “dynasty” — in the sports context — in different ways.

In some ways, it could be said that Saturday’s Class 6A/7A State Swimming Championships at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center represented the restoration of one dynasty and the strengthening of another.

The former involves Brookwood’s boys and girls teams, which swept the Class AAAAAAA state championships for the second straight year with 349 and 359 points respectively.

The latter involves Mill Creek’s Jake Magahey further establishing himself as the state’s elite distance swimmer by not only winning individual titles in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events, but breaking his own state record and setting a new national record in the 500.

For Brookwood, the title sweep marks the second straight year the Broncos have done so. The boys team have won four straight team championships in the state’s highest classification.

While the two teams had never dominated their classification at the same time before, both had enjoyed pockets of consecutive titles in the past similar to the ones each are now enjoying.

And head coach Jack Gayle sees the strength and depth of his senior class as being the catalysts to both teams’ climb to the top.

“A lot of the credit goes to the seniors and our upperclassmen,” Gayle said “They really set this as a goal last year and they attained it. They said, ‘Can we do it again? Do we have the numbers to come back and do it again?’

“I don’t think any public school has ever swept (the boys and girls state titles) twice in a row. We might be the only one. I don’t know.”

Three other public schools have pulled off a boys/girls state team championship sweep since the state meet became co-ed in 1953, but only Brookwood has produced a sweep of the titles two years in a row.

The Broncos’ performance is quite the accomplishment, and while they got plenty of contributions with strong finishes throughout most events, a couple of individuals stood out.

For the boys, it was senior Aidan Stoffle, who posted individual state titles in the 100 free and 100 backstroke and swam with two championship relay teams.

For the girls, it was sophomore Lily Burke, who placed first in the combined 6A/7A championship heat of the 200 individual medley and was the top AAAAAAA finisher in the 100 free, as well as anchoring the 400 free relay team, teaming with Maddie Cordle, Emma Claire Cohen and Reagan Sweeney to win that title outright.

“What I was really trying to do was just set (the tone) for my team and really help out getting points for my team,” Burke said. “Of course I wanted to score really high. … I think the 200 IM (was her best race) just because I felt like I had really good technique and it was probably my best time (in the event).”

There were plenty of other outstanding performances by Gwinnett swimmers in both the 6A/7A and A-AAAAA meets, including multiple first-place finishes by Abigail McCulloh of Parkview, plus a state championship and state runner-up each from Buford’s Caroline Irwin and Wesleyan’s Hannah Wasmuth.

But the individual performance of the day undoubtedly came from Magahey, who followed up his second-straight individual state title in the 200 free with a career performance in the 500 free.

A strong finishing kick helped the Mill Creek junior not only break his own state record that he set just a year ago, but also, smash the national high school record set by Jeff Kostoff in 1983 by 79-hundredths of a second with his time of 4:15.63.

“Recently, I put in a lot of good training (in the 500 free) to get ready,” Magahey said. “I’ve stepped up my game from last season, but I wasn’t sure I would be fast enough.”

Magahey’s performance marks the second straight year he has won state titles in both events.

From a team standpoint, Saturday also marked a good day for both Greater Atlanta Christian and Wesleyan teams, as well as the Buford girls in the Class A-AAAAA meet.

GAC finished as runner-up to champion Westminster in the girls competition with 273 points, while Wesleyan placed fourth with 227 points.

“Everything we were hoping for, they did,” GAC coach Emily Krug said. “They did what they needed to do to move up. They got the goals they wanted to. They were excellent.”

In the boys division, Wesleyan took third with 205.5 points, followed closely by GAC, which took fourth with 179 points.

“This was a great day,” Wesleyan coach Kevin Kadzis said. “We did the best we could, fought through some unexpected adversity and maxed out our points with the swimmers and divers we had available.”

Meanwhile, Irwin’s performance, as well as Katherine Alsobrook in the 500 free and two different relay teams, helped the Wolves girls to a sixth-place finish in the Class 4A/5A subdivision standings.

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Graduated from GSU in 1990. Have worked in sports journalism for the past 28 years, covering a variety of sports at the Gwinnett Daily News, AJC, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser and Marietta Daily Journal before returning to Gwinnett at the Post in 2007.