Americus-Sumter sophomore David Murphy made a deeper run in state than any other swimmer from Southwest Georgia this past weekend.
ATLANTA — Americus-Sumter’s David Murphy was Southwest Georgia’s lone swimmer to qualify for the GHSA state finals over the weekend, and the talented sophomore left Saturday’s meet with an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter breast stroke and a seventh-place finish in the 50 free consolation race.
Competing against swimmers from each class, Murphy lowered his 100 breast time to 1:00.25 in the prelims and then swam a 1:01.49 in the finals to finish eighth out of 54 qualifiers.
“I think he could’ve done a little bit better, but keep it in perspective: He lowered his personal best in 100 breast against the top swimmers in the state,” Americus coach John Daughety said. “He’s already qualified in several events to go to regionals in Nashville, Tenn., in March. He’s the guy in the area. And he’s only 15. That’s the scary thing.”
Lee County’s Jordan Yarbrough also qualified for the state meet in the 500 free but didn’t make it out of Friday’s prelims. Yarbrough, a junior, swam a 5:37.61 in the event to qualify but finished 26th in the prelims to miss out on a state finals appearance by 10 spots.
Westover swept the Region 1-AAAA meets on Jan. 29 at Darton College, earning 162 of a possible 234 points in the girls meet and 120 of 231 points in the boys meet. Americus-Sumter finished runner-up in each meet, scoring 60 points in the girls and 81 in the boys.
“It was a good year,” Westover coach Nikki Carlisle said. “As far as the girls side, we had a lot of girls that came back and are young. With the boys, the team was patched together with ninth-graders, and we had to teach them the strokes. But we made it through.”
Other Region 1-AAAA champs were Americus’ Jacob Eden, Aaron Tyler, Bryce Benton and Murphy (200 medley relay), Murphy (200 IM), Albany High’s Michael Bennett (50 free, 100 fly), Tyler (500 free) and Eden (100 breast).
Deerfield-Windsor’s Perin Hancock had Southwest Georgia’s best individual finish in the Feb. 2 GISA state swimming championship, coming in third in the 100 breast with a time of 1:11.35.
“She is an all-around swimmer who swims year round,” DWS coach Lisa Bartlett said of Hancock, who is just an 8th-grader. “She trains morning and night. She will be a force to be reckoned with the next couple of years.”
Hancock also finished fifth in the 200 IM, sixth in the 50 free and fourth in the 200 free relay with Haley Daughtry, Glenna Bridges and Emily McPeters.
The DWS girls finished eighth as a team, while the Southland and DWS boys finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Other Top 10 finishers in the GISA state meet were Daughtry in the 200 free (eighth), 100 free (ninth) and 50 free (ninth), Southland’s Clay Copland in the 200 free (eighth), Southland’s Alina Yemelyanov in the 200 IM (ninth), Southland’s Devon Varnum in the 200 IM (fifth) and 100 fly (fifth), Deerfield’s Nathan Mclendon in the 200 IM (seventh) and 500 free (10th), Mike Gutierrez in the 50 free (sixth), Deerfield’s Ashton Wabeh in the 100 free (sixth), 500 free (sixth) and 50 free (seventh), Southland’s Josiah Copland in the 100 free (seventh), 100 breast (seventh) and 50 free (eighth), Southland’s Cole Varnum in the 100 back (fifth) and 50 free (10th), Southland’s Lexie Cheokas in the 100 back (ninth) and Deerfield’s Nick Myers in the 100 breast (10th).
The 200 free relay team of Clay Copland, Cole Varnum, Devon Varnum and Josian Copland brought home a second-place finish with a time of 1:38.64.
Local relay teams in the Top 10 were Deerfield’s Harris Maples, Myers, Wabeh and Mike Gutierrez in the 200 medley (6th), Deerfield’s Brent Goldsmith, Mclendon, Daniel Cheshire and Mathew Gutierrez in the 200 medley (ninth), Mathew Gutierrez, Mike Gutierrez, Myers and Wabeh in the 200 free (fourth) and Deerfield’s Spencer Williamson, Matt Williams, Mclendon and Chesire in the 200 free (10th).