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Parkview boys back on top, win swimming-diving title

ATLANTA - Jack Gayle, sporting a huge grin and sopping wet, laughed as he got a celebration hug from longtime Parkview coach Rick Creed.

"I don't remember this tradition," the second-year Panther head coach told Creed, his former high school coach.

Gayle didn't remember the swimmers ever tossing Creed and his fellow coaches into the pool to celebrate victories, but the young coach is very aware of Parkview's other tradition - winning state titles.

The Panthers claimed another Class AAAAA state championship in boys swimming and diving on Saturday at Westminster, holding off runner-up Chattahoochee 274.5 to 267. Two-time defending boys champion Collins Hill was third at 224 and Brookwood was fourth, giving Gwinnett three of the top four in boys.

Four Gwinnett swimmers won individual state titles in AAAAA: Peachtree Ridge's Aileen Cole and Scott Royal, Dacula's Abigail Alton and South Gwinnett's Emily Roberts.

Parkview's victory kept Gwinnett's streak going - county teams have won the boys state title in the state's biggest class every year since 2000 - and it put the Panthers back on top for the first time since 2003, when it won the last of four straight titles under Creed, now the coach at Mill Creek.

"That was real important for me and (assistant) Eric (Brown) to keep the program at this high level," Gayle said. "We both love Coach Creed and know what he did at Parkview. We feel like we're continuing the tradition and it's also kind of an ode to Coach Creed to keep that tradition going."

Both Gayle and Brown have two state championship rings from their years of swimming under Creed - Gayle was on state title teams in 1995 and 1998 and Brown was on the winning 1998 and 2000 teams.

Gayle still wears a state title ring to Parkview's swim meets, a reminder to his swimmers about their ultimate goal.

"It almost feels better in some ways to win state (as a coach) because you feel like you've influenced a lot of these guys," Gayle said. "You've helped them reach their maximum potential. I know it's a dream for a lot of them to come away from here as seniors and state champions. It feels good that you helped them do that."

The Panthers placed first in just one event, the meet-opening 200 medley relay of John Tait, Matthew Odom, Ryan Smith and George Partin, who placed first in 1 minute, 39.17 seconds. But they had swimmers with strong efforts in a number of events, including a good showing by Odom, who was second in the 100 breaststroke (59.22) and fourth in the 200 individual medley (1:58.76).

Teammate Andrew Ruffing tied for second in the 100 butterfly (52.70) and Parkview was second in both the 200 free relay (1:28.45) and the 400 free relay (3:14.92). Runner-up Chattahoochee won both of those two relays, but the Panthers locked up the title by taking second in the meet-ending 400 free relay. Had they slipped to third, Chattahoochee would have won the crown.

Among Gwinnett's individual state champions, South's Roberts was the only senior. She became a three-time state champ in the 100 breast with a time of 1:03.43, although she was aiming for the state record of 1:02.15. Roberts swam 1:02.86 in prelims, but wasn't quite as fast in the finals.

Still she was a three-time state champion.

"It was very exciting," Roberts said. "I really wanted to break the (state) record, but it was exciting to go out with a third state championship. It was definitely my goal to win another state championship this season, so that was great."

Cole and Royal gave Peachtree Ridge, just a third-year school, two state champions. Cole, a sophomore, won the 50 free in 23.99, just ahead of the 24.07 posted by North Cobb's Jenna Newsome. Royal, a junior, won the 500 free in 4:41.13 for a thrilling finish over Chattahoochee's Cory Swanson (4:41.22). Royal also was third in the 200 free.

Alton, a sophomore at Dacula and a two-time county champion, won the state title in the 100 free at 52.01, also edging Newsome (52.19). Alton added a runner-up finish in the 100 backstroke.

Other top Gwinnett finishers were Brookwood's Kyle Diedrich (second in the 200 free and second the 100 back), Duluth's Mason Norman (third, 50 free) and Kelsey Scott (second, 500 free), Collins Hill's Jared Robinson (second, 100 free), Jordan Wacker (third, 100 free) and Nat Emmett (third, 100 breast).

North Gwinnett was the county's top finisher in the girls team standings at seventh place, just six points ahead of eighth-place Parkview. In just its second season, Mill Creek was 10th on the girls side. The Duluth boys also placed 10th.

Reynolds, Slack win two state titles each

ATLANTA - Wesleyan senior Caitlin Reynolds and Greater Atlanta Christian junior Ali Slack were the stars on Saturday night at Westminster, winning two state titles each.

The Wesleyan girls scored 211 points for third place and GAC placed fourth with 167. The GAC boys were seventh.

But Gwinnett's best showings came from Reynolds and Slack.

Reynolds, a Stanford signee, won the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 48.33 seconds and won the 500 free in 4:56.20. Both times also would have won the AAAAA division.

"It was definitely my goal to win both, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Reynolds, who also swam on runner-up 200 and 400 free relays.

Slack won the 50 free in 24.14 and later took first in the 100 free in 52.31. She also helped GAC's 200 medley relay take second place.

GAC's John Toll added a third-place finish in the 100 butterfly.