Etowah’s DuVall charges to state championship
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
February 07, 2014 04:07 AM | 1175 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Madison DuVall made history for Etowah’s swimming and diving program Thursday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, becoming the first Eagle diver to win a state championship. It marked a strong start to the state championships for Etowah, which will turn its focus to the swimming events with today’s preliminaries.
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Madison DuVall made history for Etowah’s swimming and diving program Thursday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, becoming the first Eagle diver to win a state championship. It marked a strong start to the state championships for Etowah, which will turn its focus to the swimming events with today’s preliminaries.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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ATLANTA — Madison DuVall opened the Class AAAAAA state championships with a splash Thursday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.

Etowah’s lone diver won a state championship, marking the first time the school has claimed a diving title.

DuVall, a junior, placed third at each of the last two state meets after switching from gymnastics to diving prior to her freshman year. This year, she finished with 504.5 points — 89 points ahead of her nearest competitor.

DuVall, a 2013 All-American by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, said it felt like all her hard work had finally paid off. Between last year’s state meet and this one, she was able to add a few new dives to her repertoire.

Etowah coach Virginia Richards said DuVall essentially blew the competition out of the water.

“She did a fantastic job,” Richards said. “At some point, she was on Round 3, and all the other girls on Round 4. You would think that they would be ahead of her because they had an extra dive, but there were times when she was still ahead of them, even though they all had an extra dive. She just did a great job. It’s really fun to watch her.”

With the points Etowah earned through DuVall’s championship, the Lady Eagles might have a shot at the top-three finish following today’s preliminaries and Saturday’s finals.

The highest the Etowah girls program has finished at a state meet is fourth.

“Technically, I guess you could say we are in first place right now,” Richards said, “but I don’t think that will last for long. We couldn’t ask for anything more from (DuVall). It was a great way to start it out.”

The swimming events, with one competition for Class AAAAAA schools, and another for schools from the other five classifications, begins with preliminary races today.

Richards said she’s looking for each of Etowah’s entries to improve upon their seeds.

Among the races she has high hopes for are the three girls relays, which are all seeded in the top 16. The eighth-seeded 200-yard medley features three college-bound swimmers in Megan Young (Georgia Tech), Taylor Weiss (Arkansas) and Lauren Oglesby (Gardner-Webb). The fourth member of the relay, Delena Cook, is just a freshman.

Oglesby will also compete in the 200 and 500 freestyles. Weiss will swim the 200 individual medley, while Young will also compete in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Katie Taylor will compete in the 50 and 100 freestyles.

The Woodstock boys have a couple of solid entries, including Alarii Levrault-Lopez, who will compete in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly. Chase Moore will also compete in the 100 and 200 freestyles.

The Woodstock girls will be led by Lauren Case (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly), Kaley Austin (200 IM), Madison Tank (100 freestyle).

The girls 100 butterfly could be a showdown between two Cherokee County swimmers. Case is the No. 2 seed, with Weiss the No. 3. Both qualified behind Peachtree Ridge’s Haley McInemy.

“I just want to see everyone improve on where they are seeded and try to score some points,” Richards said. “I just want better times. I haven’t looked at the meet overall to see where we could place, so we will just have to see how it all plays out.”

In the Class A-AAAAAA meet, Sequoyah and Creekview each have a handful of entries.

The Sequoyah boys, led by Jack and Ben Syers, will compete in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. Ben Syers will also swim the 50 and 100 freestyles, while Jack Syers will swim the 100 butterfly.

The Creekview girls will compete in the 200 medley relay, with Creekview, Sequoyah and River Ridge all qualifying entries into the 200 freestyle relay.

Individually, the Creekview girls will be led by Brittany Creasy (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly), while the Sequoyah girls will be led by Rachel Pelzer (100 freestyle, 200 freestyle), Kristen Kosloski (200 IM) and Sophie Roy (200 IM).

Also competing for River Ridge are Josh Butler (50 freestyle) and Greer Blackmon (50 freestyle).
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