BOONE — It was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait when the Watauga Pioneers swim team hosted, and subsequently won, their first home meet at the Watauga County Community Recreation Center against St. Stephens on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
“It was an amazing first meet of the season,” head coach David Gragg said. “To open up a new facility with a large home crowd is something I hope none of these swimmers forget. This was a dream of so many people throughout the community. Jonathan Miller, who was an assistant coach when I swam, came to the meet. We were able to share a moment knowing the late Lan O’Loughlin, who served so many years as the head coach of both swim teams, would be proud for the night.”
While Gragg was happy to see the team have a home, he was also happy with the results as Watauga’s girls dominated 101-51 and the boys eked out a, 80-79 win.
The girls competition saw Watauga take eight of the 11 competitions.
Lola Herring, Emma Kent, Lauren Patterson and Lindsay Williams won the 200-yard Medley Relay with a time of 1:59.19 before Mary-Kathryn Riddle won the 200-yard IM with a final time of 2:39.88.
Kent, Greta Klein and Nora Williams took the top three spots in the 50-yard freestyle with Kent logging a 26.02.
Patterson, a sophomore, made history by breaking the school record in the 100-yard butterfly with a 58.76. The previous record had not stuck around for long with Patterson having set it at 59.52 in her freshman season.
The 100-yard freestyle was also a dominant showing for the Watauga girls as Kent, Lindsey Williams, Herring and Nora Williams taking first through fourth and Kent finishing with a sub-minute time.
Another Watauga girls relay team won in the 200-yard freestyle event before Patterson again made history. In the 100-yard backstroke event, Patterson set a time of 1:00.85, breaking Margaret Ellis’ record of 1:03.96 that dated back to 2003.
Riddle added a second first-place and Watauga’s final girls win in the 100-yard breaststroke with a 1:20.42.
While the girls dominated the pool, the Watauga boys fought tooth-and-nail to scrap out a win.
Senior Henryk Kosmala was the only solo Pioneer to pick up a win — logging a 24.02 to take gold in the 50-yard freestyle — with the Pioneers relying on tight races and good showings throughout to take the one-point win.
Kosmala was also part of the team that took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay event along with Paul Gamiel, Anson Ross and Vaughn Ladd.
“It would be hard to single out one strong swimmer versus the others,” Gragg said. “It was neat to see all the new faces and each of them competition hard.”
Gragg said it was special to have so many people come out to support the team.
“School administration, teachers, former coaches in other sports, county commissioners, past swimmers and many family members filled the stands,” Gragg said. “One of my closest friends in coaching, LeeAnn Privett at St. Stephens, was our first competition.”
With their first event of the season under their belt, the Pioneers will now look to a Nov. 30 trip to Tennessee High in Bristol, Tenn., for their next event before returning home on Dec. 8.