published Friday, February 14th, 2014

20-0 GPS Bruisers seeking state swim title

With his swimming Bruisers having racked up a 20-0 dual-meet record, GPS coach John Woods realizes that a state championship this weekend in Nashville would make for quite a cherry on top.

He also knows just how difficult that would be.

"I don't see us as the favorite," Woods said this week. "You can be a good dual-meet team, and we are because of some quality depth that we have, but you've got to have big scorers at the state meet to win it. That's something that we still have to prove.

"We have some people who are capable, but right now it looks like Harpeth Hall has more, and they also have a really good group of divers."

GPS has not won the state swimming championship since 1976, but Woods has guided the Bruisers to 10 runner-up finishes since his arrival in the summer of 1991.

Susanna LaRochelle is seeded fourth in the 200-yard individual medley and sixth in the 100 backstroke, while Kristen Myers is seeded seventh in the 100 butterfly. The Bruisers are seeded first in the 200 medley relay and third in the 400 freestyle relay.

Baylor enters this weekend having won seven consecutive girls' state championships but also having lost a lot of experience and talent from last year's squad. The Lady Raiders are seeded fourth in the 200 free relay, with Bree Roman seeded seventh in the 100 breaststroke and Nottely Seagraves seeded seventh in diving.

Chattanooga Christian has a chance at a top-five individual finish, with Anne Dassow seeded fifth in the 100 fly.

"We have to swim better than we have this year, and our goal all year has been to be in the top three," Woods said. "The times won't lie, so the meet will tell us who the best is. Harpeth Hall will be tough to beat, because they have solid relays all the way through, and they have some real established stars on their team."

Baylor's Aqua Raiders have an excellent opportunity at a second straight state title after losing the 2012 crown to Montgomery Bell Academy. Diving is expected to provide a big Baylor windfall with Alec Chennault seeded second, Ryan Smith fourth and Sumner Smith fifth. Sam McHugh is seeded first in the 500 free and second in the 200 IM, while Luke Kaliszak is seeded first in the 100 back and second in the 50 free.

Christian Selby is seeded fifth in the 100 free and Dustin Tynes sixth in the 100 breast for the Aqua Raiders, who are favored to sweep the three relays as well.

McCallie's Dennis Sohn is seeded sixth in the 50 free, while Signal Mountain's Mathias Porter is seeded third in the 100 breast.

The state meet is scheduled to run today and Saturday at Nashville's Centennial Sportsplex. The significant snow that fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning was not expected to be a deterrent.

"The Centennial Sportsplex does not close for inclement weather," the Nashville Aquatic Club posted on the meet's website. "We anticipate the 2014 Tennessee State Meet to run as scheduled. Please be safe, and use your best judgment in deciding when and whether to travel."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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