With two major trophies from 2018 in their possession, the Brookwood teams entered this season with a target. That won’t change this week for the Gwinnett County Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Broncos are the reigning champions in the meet’s boys and girls divisions, as well as the reigning Class AAAAAAA state champions in both genders. North Gwinnett finished as runner-up in both divisions last season, but it wasn’t super close — it was 99 points out of first in the boys competition and 105.5 short of Brookwood in the girls standings.
A Brookwood repeat of its sweep won’t be easy, particularly in the boys meet. Parkview’s boys toppled Brookwood in their season-ending dual meet, building some pre-county momentum.
“County is going to be incredibly tough on the boys side this year,” Brookwood head coach Jack Gayle said. “Of course, we have high expectations, but we will be battling talented teams from both Parkview and North that have county championship aspirations as well. I think the championship on the boys side is going to come down to winning the relays, which should make the meet very exciting.”
Brookwood returns a deep roster from last year’s boys county title team, including reigning 100-yard freestyle champion Aidan Stoffle. The Auburn signee also was runner-up in last season’s county meet in the 100 backstroke.
Teammates Dylan Scott (2018 county runner-up in the 200 and 500 free), Nathaniel Stoffle (third in 200 individual medley and fourth in 100 back last year at county) and Daniel Tran (fourth at county in 100 breaststroke, fifth in 200 IM last season) also are among the returning Bronco swimmers.
Brookwood’s girls team is a heavier favorite to repeat as county champion, though Parkview and North Gwinnett hope to make a challenge.
The Broncos also have a large group of swimmers who fared well at last year’s county meet, including Reagan Sweeney (champion in 100 fly, fourth in 200 free), Lily Burke (runner-up in 200 IM, 100 free), Juliana Carey (third in 200 IM, fourth in 100 breast) and Emma Claire Cohen (fifth in 200 free and 500 free).
“The county meet on the girls side is always exciting,” Gayle said. “I know our girls really want to take home the victory, and they’ve been swimming better and better as the season has progressed. We’ve seen some of our depth swimmers really step up and create more flexibility on the relays, which is a huge advantage at a meet like county. We’ll be counting on that as we face North and Parkview again, two teams that would very much like to win county and state as well.”
While their teams may not reach the peak of the standings, three other Gwinnett boys swimmers are defending county champions — Mill Creek’s Jake Magahey, Peachtree Ridge’s Shwan Ahn and Norcross’ Arion Solomon. Magahey was the meet’s star last season with victories in the 200 and 500 free, part of a season that saw him break all-time county and county-meet records in those events. Ahn is the defending county champion in the 100 breast (he also was third last year in the 500 free) and Solomon won the 50 free last season, in addition to taking fourth in the 100 fly.
In the girls division, Mountain View’s Sarah-Grace Thompson won both of her events at county last season, the 100 back and the 100 free. The junior has won Gwinnett’s 100 back championship each of her first two high school seasons.
Duluth’s Ashley Neas (2017 champion in the 500 free) and North’s Courtney Niemann (2017 champion in the 100 breast) also are returning county champions from the past. Longtime county placer Chantal Jordan of North Gwinnett and Parkview star Abigail McCulloh also are expected to contend for their first individual county titles. Jordan was second in the 50 free and third in the 100 free last season, while McCulloh was runner-up in the 200 free and 500 free last year as a freshman.
The swimming portion of the county meet begins with boys preliminaries Thursday night at the West Gwinnett Aquatic Center, followed by the girls prelims Friday night at the same site. The swimming finals conclude the meet Saturday at West Gwinnett beginning at 5 p.m.
Mountain Park Aquatic Center hosts the boys and girls diving portions of the meet. The boys meet on Wednesday will see everyone chasing Collins Hill’s Peter Smithson. The reigning state champion and three-time Daily Post diver of the year is in search of his fourth straight Gwinnett championship.
Dacula’s Lauren Henderson, the Daily Post’s reigning girls diver of the year, is back to defend her county championship as well. She is challenged by a girls field that includes last season’s county runner-up (Abby Camarda of Norcross) and third-place finisher (Maggie Hennebaul of Mountain View).
What: Gwinnett County Swimming and Diving Championships
Where: West Gwinnett Aquatic Center, Mountain Park Aquatic Center
Defending champions: Brookwood boys, Brookwood girls
4 p.m. — Boys diving finals at Mountain Park
5 p.m. — Boys swimming prelims at West Gwinnett
5 p.m. — Girls swimming prelims at West Gwinnett
9 a.m. — Girls diving finals at Mountain Park
5 p.m. — Boys and girls swimming finals at West Gwinnett