ATLANTA — North Gwinnett's boys swimming and diving team unseated four-time defending champion Brookwood and did it without a single individual winner. In fact, the Bulldogs didn't place anyone in the top three.
Instead it was a steady wave that crested just at the right time.
North won the Class AAAAAAA championship with 319 points Saturday at Georgia Tech's Aquatic Center.
The Bulldogs basked in the win. With grins a mile wide, they leaped into the diving well. Head coach Paul Callis, in his first year with the program, was among the dripping dogs to eventually climb out of the water.
“This was a total, just like county, team effort,” Callis said. “It was a lot harder at state. With the 6A teams here, it made it a little more stressful because our strength is our third and fourth swimmers. They'll beat anybody in the state. But they were not getting back to the finals so we lost those points. Our focus had to turn back to our top.
“We struggled for sure. We didn't have the best meet, but we did what we needed to do.”
Callis went to the back hallway before the final event, the 400 relay, to talk to his four guys. They didn't need to win. They just needed to be within at least two places of the Broncos.
North was fourth with Mikael Getahoun, Ethan Dawidowicz, Ayden Meierarend and Nathan Han. Brookwood was fifth in the relay and second overall with 304.50 points.
“There's a lot to celebrate,” Brookwood head coach Jack Gayle said. “I'm so proud of the way we swam. Our guys came into this meet in a big hole. To fight back and only get second by 14 or 15 points, is amazing. I've never been so proud to get second place.”
Parkview was fourth and Mill Creek, led by their star Jake Magahey, was sixth.
The race that takes the longest drew the whole building's attention. Not because there was a question who would win. Because they wanted to see by how much — and if Magahey could top the staggering performance he delivered a year ago in the 500 freestyle.
In 2019, Magahey broke the oldest existing high school record in the country with a time of 4:15.63.
The Mill Creek phenom was an entire pool length ahead of the field and most certainly defended his state title. He was just shy of his national mark in 4:16.47. The next closest competitor was more than 14 seconds behind the Georgia-bound senior.
His teammate Nicholas Kalenik was fifth.
Magahey ran away with the 200 freestyle, setting a new state record and beating the field by more than three seconds. The senior star was up a body length at the end of the first lap and continued to wow the crowd, carving away at the clock with each stroke.
The old mark was 1:35.16. Magahey won in 1:34.37.
The defending champs had a strong start to the meet, but had to grind through to earn the runner-up finish.
“We had guys from all over over-performing, which is what had us in the mix,” Gayle said. “We honestly were not expected to be in the mix when we walked in and we're walking out having put a lot of pressure on the champions.”
Brookwood's 200 medley relay was just out-touched at the wall by Dalton. Dalton won in a state record 1:32.25, but isn't in the same class so the Broncos were AAAAAAA champs. Nathaniel Stoffle, Grant Clark, Chris Scalzi and Sam Mauldin finished in 1:32.38.
“Nate-Dog, you know, he's the kind of kid that we say we need big things from and he just delivers,” Gayle said. “It's amazing when you have a kid like that that you can rely on. It doesn't phase him.”
In the fastest race of the day, Parkview senior Wesley Carter and West Forsyth's Jack Aikins raced for the wall in tandem. Aikins won the 50 free in 19.74. Carter was second in 20.47. Both beat the state record.
“Wesley Carter had a big meet,” Parkview head coach Eric Brown said. “We're really proud of him. He had a big senior season.”
The 100 butterfly was even closer and half the A final field was made up of Gwinnett County athletes.
Stoffle led wire to wire, but his margin of victory was .01 seconds over Tyler Schroeder of Peachtree Ridge. Stoffle, who was fourth at state last year, hit in 48.95. Schroeder, a sophomore, was second in 48.96.
Stoffle put the hammer down in the 100 backstroke, a race he was fourth in as a sophomore. He was the runaway winner in 48.43 seconds.