BOONE — At this point in the season, getting into the pool with a swimmer from Watauga has a near-predetermined outcome: a Pioneer win.
A short-handed Watauga team headed to Freedom on Jan. 6 and nearly swept the field.
“Even though the weather kept us from being a full team, I thought we swam well,” head coach David Gragg said. “We had swimmers in new events which resulted in good swims. That was one of the goals of this meet, to see what some of the lesser experienced swimmers could do, and they really impressed me.”
On the girls’ side, Watauga put up 96 points on both Patton and Freedom for a pair of wins, buoyed by 11 wins and seven finishes in the top 2 spots.
In the 200-yard medley relay, Watauga teams took both of the top 2 spots and set the bar for the rest of the competition. Watauga also finished in the top 2 spots in the 200-yard freestyle relay and won the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Virginia St. Clair and Lauren Patterson each bagged two solo wins. St. Clair won the 100 and 200-yard freestyle events and Patterson winning the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.
Lyndsey Whitehead-Price won the 500-yard freestyle, Maggie Cheves won the 200-yard IM, Lola Herring took home the 100-yard backstroke and Mary-Katherine Riddle won the 100-yard breaststroke.
While the boys managed a 30-30 draw with Patton, Freedom won out 79-28.
The Pioneers managed five podium finishes from Trathan Gragg, Henryk Kosmala and Nick Lyons, but Kosmala bagged the only wins with first-place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly events.
Less than a week later, the Pioneers hosted South Caldwell, Avery and Ashe County at the Watauga County Community Recreation Center for Watauga’s senior night swim meet.
I was impressed with our last home meet of the regular season,” Gragg said. “Being able to host a ‘Senior Night’ for the first time in many years was an incredible experience. This group of athletes overcame a lot during their four years at Watauga, and I am grateful for their commitment.”
As per usual, it was domination from the Watauga girls, who beat South Caldwell 77-16, Avery 85-0 and Ashe 85-0 while taking home 10 event wins.
Pioneers girls teams won the 200-yard medley, 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays.
In solo competition, St. Clair won the 200-yard freestyle; Patterson conquered the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke; Greta Klein won the 100-yard butterfly; Kent took first in the 100-yard freestyle; and Cheves won both the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke events.
The Pioneer boys saw big wins over Avery and Ashe, but also a 50-37 slip up against South Caldwell.
Watauga boys relay teams took first in the 200-yard medley and second in the other relays that ran.
Kosmala won the 50-yard freestyle, Allan Summit won the 100-yard breaststroke and Anson Ross won the 100-yard backstroke event.
Gragg pointed out that while South Caldwell was strong at the top, Watauga was strong in depth and had multiple top finishes in events the Pioneers did not outright win.
“This was a good chance to see where we stand for the conference meet in two weeks,” Gragg said. “The girls continue to look strong, so I expect them to continue to do well. The boys looked good even in the loss.”
The Pioneers now have one meet left of the regular season — a trip to Wilkes to face Ashe and Alexander Central on Wednesday, Jan. 19. After the regular season’s end, Watauga will host the conference swim meet on Jan. 26.