The repeat was sweet.
North Gwinnett’s boys swimming and diving team claimed its second straight Class AAAAAAA state championship Saturday night at Georgia Tech, going back-to-back after winning the program’s first title in 2020.
“This is sweeter (than 2020). It means a lot. It means it wasn’t a one-year deal. It means we have some staying power,” North coach Paul Callis said. “We wanted to show we’re more of a complete team than last year. Last year was a fantastic team. This year we wanted to show we had more firepower at the top.”
The Bulldogs didn’t win an individual championship, but their swimmers littered the podium and packed into the finals. By the time the scoring was done, they had 361.5 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Alpharetta’s 308.5.
Parkview won an ultra-close battle for third with 301.5 points and Brookwood was fifth at 289, giving Gwinnett three of the top five boys teams in AAAAAAA. Peachtree Ridge (10th), Mill Creek (14th), Norcross (17th) and Collins Hill (20th) also finished in the top 20, but there was no question which team made the biggest statement.
“I’m just super proud of these boys,” Callis said. “To put up 361 points was huge. Last year we won with 319 and we made the challenge that we wanted to score big and we crushed it. We crushed it. The next team was 308 or something. We wanted to show there wasn’t any question who was the best team in the state.”
While North took care of the team title, Brookwood’s Nathaniel Stoffle, Peachtree Ridge’s Tyler Schroeder and Norcross’ Preston Lin earned individual championships.
Stoffle won the 100-yard backstroke in 47.65 seconds, and was a super close second in the 100 butterfly with a time of 48.37, which was edged out by Schroeder’s state title swim in 48.35. Schroeder added a fourth-place finish in the 100 back (50.33).
Lin won the 100 breaststroke in 54.71 after finishing as runner-up in that event last year. He also was eighth in the 50 free (21.66).
Parkview also celebrated a state championship with Gwinnett’s only relay win. The Panthers won the 200 medley relay in 1:33.36 with the foursome of Andy Zhu, Joshua Kim, Dylan Yin and Tyler Wooldridge.
North was second to Parkview in that 200 medley relay, took third in the 200 free relay and placed fifth in the 400 free relay. In addition to the three, top-five relays, the Bulldogs also excelled more in individual races in 2021.
Luke Han led the way with state runner-up finishes in both the 200 free (1:40.40) and 100 free (45.38), and Tristan DenBrok was right behind with third-place swims in the 200 free (1:40.55) and 500 free (4:34.98). Ayden Meierarend was fourth in the 200 individual medley (1:52.11) and eighth in the 100 fly (50.91).
Other top finishes by North swimmers included Blake Burnley (ninth in 100 fly, 51.08 and ninth in 100 back, 51.72), Ethan Whiting (sixth in 500 free, 4:38.96), Ethan Reiser (ninth in 500 free, 4:44.00) and Andrew Horn (eighth in 100 breast, 59.12).
“Our goal was to get on some podiums,” Callis said.
Parkview’s state title relay played a huge role in its third-place finish, though its individual swimmers also had a big night. The Panthers had six swimmers with top-10 finishes — Tyler Wooldridge (10th in 200 free, 1:43.32), Thomas Wooldridge (seventh in 500 free, 4:41.07), Zhu (sixth in 200 IM 1:54.19 and 10th in 100 back, 52.22), Yin (seventh in 50 free, 21.51 and sixth in 100 fly, 50.48), Kim (third in 100 breast, 57.08) and Russell Hart (eighth in 100 breast, 59.12).
Brookwood’s 200 medley relay tied North for second, and Stoffle was joined as an individual standout by teammates Nolan Patterson (fifth in 200 free, 1:41.69 and sixth in 100 free, 46.75) and Matthew Scalzi (seventh in 100 back, 51.25).
Mill Creek was led by William Skidmore (eighth in 200 free, 1:42.61 and fourth in 500 free, 4:35.54) and Daniel Roshka (ninth in 200 free, 1:42.74), and Peachtree Ridge got a 10th-place finish from Charles Tu in the 500 free (4:44.77).