0

Collins Hill aims to keep boys swimming and diving state title streak alive for Gwinnett

The streak is in serious jeopardy this weekend.

A Gwinnett County team has won the last 14 boys swimming and diving state championships in Georgia’s largest classification, holding the top slot from Parkview’s victory in 2000 all the way through the Panthers’ state title last year.

Parkview has won eight boys titles during that span, Brookwood has won three, Collins Hill has won two and Peachtree Ridge has one. In many of those meets, it was Gwinnett fighting Gwinnett for the top spot, assuring that the title would remain in the county.

That’s not the case this year, though.

The Chattahoochee, Walton and Alpharetta boys are all title-worthy, posing a major challenge to Gwinnett in the meet, which features prelims today and finals Saturday, both at Georgia Tech.

“Gwinnett has dominated the boys side of the state meet for more than a decade,” said Parkview head coach Jack Gayle, whose team has won the past two boys state titles. “I’m hoping that the tradition continues this weeked. It’s going to be the most competitive state meet we’ve had in years.”

While Gayle hopes his team can fight into the title mix, the pre-meet consensus is that Gwinnett’s best hope of keeping the boys state title streak alive is Collins Hill.

The Eagles, led by double-winner and double meet-record breaker Cody Bekemeyer, knocked off Parkview at the county meet Jan. 25.

“Our focus is to perform our best and swim our fastest times of the year,” Collins Hill associate head coach Paul Callis said. “We will face some great teams from all across Georgia and we are sure Gwinnett will have several teams near the top. Our swimmers and divers are excited to compete and represent Collins Hill High School.”

Collins Hill had a pair of powerhouse teams win state championships in 2004 and 2005 — the only two blemishes in an eight-year run of Parkview state titles — but haven’t won it all since the back-to-back crowns.

“Our Eagles have been getting better at each and every practice and meet,” said Collins Hill head coach Jenny Weaver, who also coached the 2004 and 2005 championship teams. “We have had a fantastic season so far but our swimmers and divers are focused and ready to make state the best meet of the year.”

Bekemeyer has a good chance to win individual titles, as a number of other Gwinnett boys swimmers, including North Gwinnett’s Tomas Peribonio, Duluth’s J.P. Portillo and Brookwood’s Alex Taylor.

The girls championship isn’t so up for grabs, with defending champion Lambert going in as the heavy favorite. Gwinnett teams should pack the top-10 standings behind Lambert, however, led by Brookwood, Peachtree Ridge, Mill Creek and North Gwinnett.

Brookwood is strong in the individual events with individual county champions Anna Jahns, Devan Sweeney, Maddy Cohen and Erin Scott. Peachtree Ridge also has some state title contenders, led by Carrington BeVier and Haley McInerny.

Archer’s Alexi Smith also is a state championship favorite in the spring freestyle races.

SWIMMING

What: Georgia High School Association State Swimming and Diving Championships

When: Today, Saturday

Where: Georgia Tech Aquatic Center

Schedule:

Today

9 a.m. — Class AAAAA-A swimming prelims

6:30 p.m. — Class AAAAAA swimming prelims

Saturday

1 p.m. — Class AAAAA-A swimming finals

6 p.m. — Class AAAAAA swimming finals