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Shorthanded Salem takes second at meet

CONYERS - The Salem swim team placed second overall followed by Heritage on Thursday night at Johnson Park.

Despite having a small team - just 20 total swimmers, fewer than the Heritage girls squad - Salem tallied 161 points to secure the runner-up finish. Meanwhile, Heritage ended third with 139 points.

"It's nice when there's just a small group and we do this, but we've got lots of talent," Salem coach Lisa Boyd said. "We've been a little inconsistent in terms of practicing and commitment this year, but they're definitely coming around."

With an ineligible team due to a lack of swimmers, Eastside rounded out the group of five squads.

Drew Ellwanger finished first for the Eagles with a time of 1:00.26 in the 100-yard breaststroke, 8.21 seconds faster than Paideia's first-place finisher Mats Dreyer.

Ellwanger now holds the fastest 100-yard breaststroke time for the state high meet.

"I feel good, but I really wanted to break a minute since this was my last time for a high school meet at Johnson Park," he said. "But yeah it feels really good that we've been able to push for swimming and get it going."

Paideia took first place with a score of 219. Dacula ended fourth (96).

For the boys, Salem won first (108) thanks to a pair of first-place finishes in the 200-yard medley relay (one minute, 48.21 seconds) and 200-yard free relay (1:38.24). Heritage finished third (59) despite having just nine swimmers.

Heritage junior standout Nathanael Eisenman was sidelined due to shoulder tenderness. On Tuesday, Eisenman swam a 20.91 in the 50-yard freestyle, topping the Pace Academy Pool record and putting him as the No. 1 seed in state competition.

Individually, Salem sophomore Matt Tibbetts secured two first-place finishes in the 200-yard individual medley (2:09.57) and the 100-yard fly (55.74).

Tibbetts has qualified for state in every event except for the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle. He has qualified in six of eight individual events, nine of 11 total events.

Salem's Taylor Horton swam a best of 24.15 in the 50-yard freestyle to earn top honors. Logan Gunzenhauser was second in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:11.43).

Matt Shamp placed first for the Patriots in the 100-yard freestyle. Heritage's Dylan Johnson took second in the 200-yard individual medley (2:22.68).

For the girls, the Lady Patriots finished second overall in the 200-yard medley relay (2:14.90) and second in the 400-yard free relay (4:30.14).

"I really, really believe that from top to bottom we've got people who are working hard to improve, from almost across the board," Heritage coach Karl Koenig said. "Once again we're dropping time in a lot of cases, so that's all you can ask for."

Salem's Lindsay McMullen placed first in the 200-yard individual medley with a mark of 2:40.75. Heritage's Rebecca Bradley took second (2:41.56).

Bradley also finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:21.49.

Melanie Eble took second for the Lady 'Noles in the 100-yard butterfly (1:16.69).

"We've got a very young group of girls," Boyd said. "Our standout this year has been our senior team captain, Lindsay McMullen. She's actually been amazing - she's really stepped up."

Based on her performance, McMullen is now among the top 10 in Salem history for all-time swims in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard freestyle.

On Tuesday, the Heritage 200-yard relay team - Shamp, Johnson, Anthony Bazzani and Eisenman - broke another PAP record by 1.25 seconds with a time of 1:31.

"Our seniors are really driving this team," Koenig said. "Now we've got a lot of young swimmers who are going to be great, but our seniors this year are really driving the team.

"The senior girls are the ones who set the tone in practice. They're the ones the other ones look up to."

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.