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Cambridge Swim & Dive Ends Season in Historic Fashion; Grottle Claims 6A 500yd Freestyle State Championship

Cambridge Swim & Dive Ends Season in Historic Fashion; Grottle Claims 6A 500yd Freestyle State Championship

On Thursday through Saturday, February 1-3, Cambridge Swim and Dive competed on the big stage at Georgia Tech and certainly did not disappoint. The most individual qualifiers than ever before in program history, Cambridge was prepared to have their presence known at this state competition.


The championship weekend started with diving. The girls were on the board first and Cambridge had four girls representing the program. State veteran Haley Copeland put up a solid performance, but with 51 girls in the competition, she couldn't squeeze into the top 24 to make it to the semi-finals round. Similarly, Margeaux Messier and Noor El-Gazairly also ended their first state appearance with the first cut.

Freshman Kate McKay, even after being out for the middle of the season, was able to come back and make a big impact. She made it past the first cut into the top 24, but could not hang on enough to make the cut into the finals round. Even though the girls didn't make it to the end, it was amazing to send four girls to state and it's equally exciting to know that we will be able to have all four girls back next year! We're gunning for the top 20!

On the boys' side, senior Turner Mignerey had his eyes on a top finish to round out his high school career. Even though he did not hit some of his dives the way he wanted, Mignerey had an incredibly solid performance and placed 18th out of 49 boys. We are so proud of Mignerey and his contributions to this program. Mignerey has plans to attend Auburn in the fall and participate in their dive program, so the sport is certainly not over for this kid, but we will miss him tremendously and certainly feel the impact of his absence next year. He's leaving big shoes to fill for sure!

Swimming - Prelims

The swimmers had a full schedule of events on Friday, starting with the medley relay. The boys' and girls' team had relays qualify to compete. The boys' relay (Nick Diponzio, Konata Ford, Phillip Ryzhkov, Ben Balmes) dropped almost a half-second from their seed time, but it wasn't enough to earn a top finish and a place in finals. The girls' team was a different story. The relay (Eva Medici, Katie Fishman, Lauren Jonsson, Kathryn Suplee) shaved off over a second from their top time this season and earned 23rd, which secured a spot in finals the next day. Their time was also a new school record of 1:55.18.

In the 200-yard freestyle, Cambridge had three swimmers competing in the event. For the boys' team, sophomore Matthew Gaines dropped almost 1.5-seconds to take 9th overall and have a place in the top-10 finals heat on Saturday. For the girls' team, sophomore Abby Grottle and junior Lauren Jonsson both also had incredibly strong performances. Grottle placed ninth with over three-seconds of improvement from her seed time to clock a 1:53.26, and Lauren Jonsson took 28th place to have a spot in finals. Jonsson had narrowly missed qualifying for finals last year, so this was redemption! Jonsson dropped over 1.5-seconds to meet that qualification.

Freshman Kathryn Suplee competed in the 200-yard individual medley and shaved off almost four-seconds to swim a 2:16.61 and narrowly missed qualifying to return to finals.

Sophomore Brooke McLain competed in the 50-yard freestyle, but was disqualified on the start.

In the boys' 100-yard butterfly, sophomore Phillip Ryzhkov dropped almost a full second from his time to swim a 56.04. Freshman Billy Blood dropped over a second to swim a 56.68. For the girls' team, Kathryn Suplee was in her second individual of the day. Shaving off almost a full second wasn't enough to get into finals. Her time of 1:03.21 was definitely something to be proud of.

In the 100-yard freestyle event, Brooke McLain and freshman Jayla Brown competed. McLain shaved off a little bit of time to touch in 57.28, but was not enough to earn a spot in finals. Brown won her heat in an exciting race and touch in 55.00 and snuck into finals by placing in 30th.

In the 500-yard freestyle, Matthew Gaines put on an amazing show and swam an incredible 4:37.94, which solidly breaks the school record he set last year at state by over seven-seconds. The performance earned him sixth place overall and another appearance in the top-10 finals heat. The 500-yard free continued to be a great race for the Bears as Abby Grottle, Lauren Jonsson and freshman Eva Medici took to the pool. Medici swam a great race, but it wasn't enough to make it back to finals. Jonsson dropped over eight-seconds to swim a 5:11.88, a new best time for her high school swim career. The time earned her 23rd and a finals opportunity. Grottle ran the show in her heat and took first, which placed her third overall going into finals with a time of 4:58.15.

In the boys' 200-yard freestyle relay (Ben Balmes, Billy Blood, Nick Diponzio, Matthew Gaines) dropped almost three-seconds from their seed time, but with the competition so difficult, they were unable to secure a spot at finals. Their performance jumped them 12 places from their seed. The girls' relay (Grottle, Suplee, McLain, Brown) dropped over five-seconds to smash the school record by over four-seconds at a time of 1:40.43. This jumped their place from 22nd to 11th and easily won them an opportunity at finals.

In the 100-yard backstroke, Billy Blood dropped over a second and jumped 10 places. His final time was 58.84. Eva Medici also competed in the event and dropped over a half-second and finished with a 1:03.11. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get her back to finals.

In the 100-yard breaststroke, junior Konata Ford and sophomore Phillip Ryzhkov both had impressive performances and shaved off significant time. Ford clocked a 1:02.68, which was over 2.5-seconds faster than his seed and set a new school record in the event. Ryzhkov shaved off almost two-seconds and jumped 10 places from his seed. Both did not earn spots back for finals. Two girls also competed in the event: Jayla Brown and senior Katie Fishman. Fishman entered the event seeded 63rd, but after dropping over 1.5-seconds, she jumped to 48th. Brown dropped almost two-seconds and swam a new school record of 1:07.99, which earned her 18th overall and a place in finals.

In the 400-yard freestyle relay (Matthew Gaines, Nick Diponzio, Billy Blood, Ben Balmes) dropped almost six-seconds from their seed to swim a 3:27.26 and sneak into finals by taking 30th, which was a four-place jump from their seed. In the last event, the girls' relay (Abby Grottle, Brooke McLain, Lauren Jonsson, Jayla Brown) dropped seven-seconds to set another school relay record by over four-seconds at a time of 3:41.19. Their performance earned them 13th overall and a place in finals.

Swimming - Finals

The third day of competition started off with the girls' medley relay. Medici, Fishman, Jonsson and Suplee had a great morning and took 9th over in the state for the 6A conference. Very proud of those girls. They did not improve their time from the day before, but these girls broke the longest standing school record set in the 2012 - 2013 season.

In the 200-yard freestyle, Matthew Gaines managed to touch the wall at the exact same time as his prelim performance and take 5th in the state for the 6A conference. The girls' 200-yard freestyle was also a great performance. Lauren Jonsson dropped almost 1.5-seconds to swim a personal best of 1:57.50 and took eighth in the 6A conference. Abby Grottle also had a great day and took third in the 6A conference with a time of 1:53.82.

In the 500-yard freestyle event, Matthew Gaines was in his second individual event of the day. Even though he didn't beat his time from the day before, his performance earned him 5th in the state for the 6A conference which is incredible. For the girls' team, Lauren Jonsson went just off her preliminary time, but it earned her 7th place in the 6A conference. Abby Grottle had an amazing performance in the finals heat. Grottle was side-by-side with the fastest seed in the event and was battling for second place. After the first 300-yards, Grottle pulled away by a short distance and capitalized and extended her lead. Grottle touched the wall with a new best time of 4:53.19. Not only was her time a new school record, it was second overall in the state, and first in the 6A conference. Cambridge has the girls' 500-yard freestyle 6A champion! Her performance was simply amazing.

The girls' 200-yard freestyle relay (Abby Grottle, Brooke McLain, Emma Guy, Kathryn Suplee) swam a great race and took 5th overall in the 6A conference with a time of 1:41.68.

The last event of the day was the 400-yard freestyle relay. The boys' team (Billy Blood, Nick Diponzio, Ben Balmes, Matthew Gaines) unfortunately had a false start in one of the relay exchanges and was disqualified. The girls' relay (Abby Grottle, Brooke McLain, Emma Guy, Lauren Jonsson) took ninth overall with a time of 3:43.42.


At the end of the three days, the Cambridge boys' team took 16th overall in the state for the 6A conference. The girls' team had a spectacular year and ended it in seventh place in the state! This is the highest finish the boys or girls team has ever had at the state meet. We are incredibly proud of these kids and are already looking forward to next season when they will only be missing two state competitors. With so many young athletes and competitors, Cambridge has many years ahead of them to look forward to!

Go Bears!