As he finished the final meet of his competitive swimming career last weekend, Bryan Droll admitted it was a little surreal. He was satisfied, but a little sad to see it come to a close in what felt like a short span of time.
Luckily the Peachtree Ridge grad had a close friend to share in the experience. Davidson College (N.C.) swimming teammate Emily Castle, a Grayson grad, is his girlfriend.
Both swimmers did their best to make sure their last meet was a good one, putting up excellent performances at the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association Championships. It was an enjoyable ending to a journey that began when Castle, upon meeting Droll at Davidson’s post-high school summer orientation, talked him into walking on to the swim team.
“I asked her about the swim team and she said, ‘Actually we could use a few guys,’” said Droll, who just began dating Castle seven months ago. “We had 13 guys my freshman year and you need 18 for a full lineup. Now we have 20, so we’ve gotten bigger.”
That growth is another source of pride for Droll, who led Davidson to its second straight CCSA team title.
The senior repeated as conference champion in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.46 seconds, was second in the 100 free (45.78) and swam on first-place 200 free, 400 free and 400 medley relays. He capped an impressive career despite never swimming year-round as a youngster, and only swimming two seasons of high school.
“I was definitely satisfied with the meet and the career as a whole,” said Droll, who graduates in May with a psychology major and an economics minor. “Coming in as a walk-on, I had no expectations. I did my best times in all my events, won the 50 free and won as a team, which being a captain of the team, was really important to me.”
Castle also made great strides during her college career. Her best 100 buttefly time is nearly six seconds faster than her bests during high school.
She won the CCSA 100 fly title last weekend in 54.46 seconds, taking the event for the third straight year. She added solid efforts in the 50 free (third, 23.42) and 100 free (fourth, 51.96), while swimming on championship 200 free and 400 free relays. The Davidson women finished as conference runner-up.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” said Castle, who graduates in May with a degree in anthropology and a concentration in environmental studies. “I had a good last meet. As far as the whole college experience, I improved a lot on my times. And the amount of improvement was even more than I expected.”
Several Gwinnett products from Gardner-Webb (N.C.) also fared well at the CCSA championship meet. Parkview grads George Partin (fourth in 100 free and 200 free), Collin Burchins (fourth in 100 breaststroke and 200 breast) and Elizabeth Charter (fifth in 100 free) had high finishes, as did teammate and Brookwood grad Anna Springer (fourth in 100 breast).
North Gwinnett grad Abby Slocumb, a freshman at Georgia College and State University, had a career-high 13 points and nine rebounds on Wednesday night in a 60-45 win over Montevallo. ... Norcross grad Tiffany Clarke had 22 points and 10 rebounds last Sunday, but it wasn’t enough as Vanderbilt lost 80-71 to Kentucky.
South Gwinnett grad Javonte Maynor scored 21 points, on 7 of 10 shooting from 3-point range, Wednesday night in Georgia State’s loss to William and Mary. ... Dacula’s Brian Cole scored 15 points in UNC-Greensboro’s loss last weekend to Elon. ... GCSU’s Reece Wiedeman, a Greater Atlanta Christian grad, had 23 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in last weekend’s win over Columbus State. Brookwood grad Nate Hamilton added 12 points and three steals off the bench.
Locals help UGA to first No. 1 ranking
Georgia’s fastpitch softball team got its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the latest USA Today/National Fastpich Coaches Association top-25 poll released this week. The Bulldogs went 5-0 to win the Georgia Softball Classic last weekend, winning all of their games by the run rule and leading to the top ranking.
North Gwinnett grad Brianna Hesson had a three-run homer in the first inning of Sunday’s 13-4 championship game win over N.C. State, while Buford grad Ashley added an RBI single in the second inning. In last Saturday’s win over Marshall, Hesson was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a solo homer, while Shiloh grad Megan Wiggins was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two-run homer
Razey was the star of last Friday’s win over Buffalo when she went 3-for-3 with two homers, a double and four RBIs. Her 10 total bases tied a school record.
Wiggins was a combined 5-for-8 with two doubles, a triple and five RBIs in Friday’s games, while Hesson was 4-for-8 with two doubles and four RBIs.
Collins Hill grad Sam Lenahan, a freshman catcher at Mississippi State, hit a two-out, two-strike, walk-off home run last weekend in a victory over Southern Illinois. Lenahan is hitting .364 with a team-high three homers and eight RBIs. ... Norcross grad Heidi Shape, a teammate of Lenahan at Mississippi State, is hitting .316 and is tied with Lenahan for the team lead with three homers. She also has a team-best 16 RBIs, nine more than her closest teammate. ... Grayson grad Amanda Hutcheson went 3-for-3 last weekend in Ole Miss’ loss to Indiana, part of a four-hit weekend. The Rebels’ Brittany Broome, a North Gwinnett grad, is hitting .409.
Brookwood grad Ross Heffley was 5-for-5 with two doubles and five RBIs last Saturday, leading Western Carolina to a rout of Morehead State. He earned Southern Conference player of the week honors on Monday after batting .750 in his team’s three-game sweep. ... Collins Hill grad Daniel Warzon delivered a clutch, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth last Saturday to give North Georgia a 4-3 win over Millersville. His hit brought home teammate Kenny Bellavance, a Parkview grad who led off the inning with a double. Warzon, in his first pitching appearance for North Georgia, earned the victory in Sunday’s series finale after two innings of work with no earned runs.
Buford’s Josh Rudnik, a sophomore at Young Harris, had a huge weekend against Saint Augustine’s College, beginning with a complete-game pitching victory (allowing just two earned runs and six hits) last Saturday. He then went 4-for-4 Sunday with a home run and four RBIs, giving him the team lead in batting average (.400), homers (three) and RBIs (15).
Shida gets league honor
Georgia College and State University senior Billy Shida, a Peachtree Ridge grad, was named the Peach Belt Conference golfer of the week on Monday.
Shida won last week’s Matlock Collegiate Classic for his first career tournament victory. He shot 67, 69 and 69, marking the first time since 1995 a golfer at the Matlock tourney had posted three sub-70 rounds. His score helped GCSU to second in the team standings.
Rajek posts high finishes
Collins Hill grad Jackie Rajek has a pair of high finishes in her first spring season of college golf at Florida Southern.
The freshman tied for 10th (out of 50 players) and tied for 18th (out of 83) in the recent Lady Moc Classic. She shot 77, 77 and 80 in the most recent tourney.
TRACK AND FIELD
Vann on a roll for Buckeyes
Parkview grad Julian Vann, a freshman at Ohio State, posted a triple jump of 48 feet, 31⁄4 inches to place second at the GaReat Collegiate Invitational.
Vann, also a third-team cornerback on the Buckeyes’ football team, placed fourth last month in the All-Ohio Indoor Championships with a leap of 45-8. He also was fourth at the Akron Invitational at 46-83⁄4.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.