GPAC shows up big at Groundhog meet

Greg Johnson
Jan 30, 2019

                A GPAC team of 50 swimmers swam back-to-back weekends of competition and saw tremendous success as they ruled the pool at the 2019 Groundhog Invitational held in Columbus, GA January 25-27. Although out-scored by the home team with the numbers to add depth and more points, GPAC finished just five points shy of winning the boys’ meet.

               “Our goal going into the meet was to race hard and try to win as many swims as we could,” said team lead coach Greg Johnson. “Swimming back-to-back weekends seemed like it might be a challenge, but I really think the kids had fun and that helped them to compete at a very high level.”

               GPAC had five swimmers score enough points to win high-point awards. Noah Scoggins, 15, emerged as the 15 & over boys’ point champion based on his versatility and performances across his seven-event program. Noah won the 200-yd backstroke and posted three new personal best times, including two new ‘A’ times (200 fly, 200 fr).

               Trinity Devanney, 15, placed second in the 15 & over girls’ standings, behind a strong and focused six-event program. She swept both 100 and 200-yd backstroke races and won the 200-yd individual event on the first evening of the meet, earning new ‘AA’ times in the 200 back and 200 IM. She also set a new Southeastern championship qualifying time in the 400-yd IM and a new sectional qualifying time in her 100-yd backstroke.

               Finishing just four points behind Devanney, senior Caitlin Bridges, 18, swam a superb meet to win third place in the point standings. Bridges swam five-for-six new best times and won three individual events, sweeping the 100, 200 and 500-yd freestyle races. She also set two new SES cuts in her 100 and 500 freestyle along with a new ‘AA’ time in the 100-yd butterfly. She also set a new sectional cut in her 100 free.

               Seth Scoggins, 17, placed third in the points standings for his age group, winning the 200-yd freestyle on the last night of the meet. He also placed second in the 200-yd IM and third in the 200-yd breaststroke.

Lex Vaughn, 12, was the third-place point winner for her age group as well. Lex won the 200-yd IM and 50-yd freestyle events on the first night of the meet and swam a new best time in the 200-yd freestyle.

Although they did not compete in as many events as some of the other award winners at the meet and were just out of contention for a high-point award, GPAC had five other swimmers perform exceptionally well; winning multiple events. Landon Garcia, 10, won five out of seven of his events during the meet and placed second in two others. He also set six new personal best times, including a new ‘AAA’ time in the 100-yd breaststroke and a ‘AA’ time in his 50-yd fly.

Landry Hadder, 14, swam a six-event program over the weekend and won four of her events and took second in two others. She won the 200 and 500-yd free, 400-yd IM and 200-yd backstroke in her age group.

Senior Grace Matthews, 17, won three of her five events at the meet, sweeping the 100 and 200-yd butterfly races along with the sprint 50-yd freestyle.

Logan Robinson, 12, despite just swimming one day of the meet, won all three of his individual events that day. Logan set two new personal best times, along with a team record in his first-ever swim in the 200-yd butterfly. His time of two minutes, 26.17 seconds smashed the old team record by over nine seconds.

James Tracey, 17, won three of his seven events at the meet, sweeping the wins in the distance freestyle races (500 & 1000), along with the 200-yd fly.

Emma Wortman, 14, was perhaps the most outstanding swimmer for GPAC over the weekend. Emma won five out her six individual events.  She won the 200-yd IM on the first night and went on to win both the 100 and 200-yd races in both breaststroke and butterfly. Emma also set a new GPAC team record in the 200-yd breaststroke, eclipsing the old mark by just .21 seconds.

In addition to these eleven GPAC event winners, the team boasted seven additional event winners at the meet, making over 35% of the team individual event champions. Sara Lypko, 14, won the 100-yd IM, Maren Mackey, 15, won the 400-yd IM, Ian Malone, 11, won the 100-yd breaststroke, Aiden Morgan, 15, won the 200-yd breaststroke, Jameson Walker, 13, won the 500 free, Lily Walker, 10, won the 200 IM and 25 fly, and Liam Winans, 16, won the 100 fly.

Congratulations to Logan Gonzales, 16, and Emma O’Neill, 14, who swam life-best times in all their individual events.

Adding to the already long list of Southeastern championship qualifiers and event cuts, GPAC had seven swimmers account for 12 new qualifying swims for the championship next month. Along with Bridges’ two cuts and Devanney’s new cut in the 400 IM, Kat Ralls, 13, dropped her first 13-14 cut in the 100-yd backstroke. Lily Walker posted two new cuts in the 200 IM and 100 fly, and Cali Wilson, 17, swam a new cut in the 100-yd fly.

Upping the ante from the Southeastern qualifying times, several GPAC swimmers posted new qualifying times for the sectional championships in March. Congratulations to Paige Bridges, 15 (200 bk), Sara Lypko (200 fr), Maren Mackey (100 fly), Kat Ralls (100 bk), Logan Robinson (200 fly, 100 bk), Lily Stockton, 14, (100 bk), James Tracey (100 fr), Cali Wilson (100 fly).

GPAC swimmers made further gains in adding new motivational times over the weekend. Congratulations to these new standard breakers:

B:           Logan Gonzales, JoJo Harris, Bella Loos, Emma O’Neill, Jackson O’Neill, Abby Robinson, Cain Scoggins, Ani Sekhon,
              Coulson Voeltz

BB:         Sara Gray, Kouper Kraus, Jordan LaBryer, Brina Loos, Cain Scoggins, Lily Stockton, Avery Witte

A:           Paige Bridges, Trinity Devanney, Ian Malone, Emma O’Neill, Kat Ralls, Lindsey Rauscher, Logan Robinson, Noah Scoggins,
              Lily Stockton, Lily Walker, Liam Winans

AA:         Caitlin Bridges, Paige Bridges, Trinity Devanney, Landon Garcia, Kat Ralls, Lily Stockton, Cali Wilson

AAA:       Landon Garcia, Sara Lypko

               The GPAC team now turns its focus to the championship season. The team will host many teams from across southern Alabama and the Emerald Coast at the Region IV championships coming up in mid-February. Then the team will travel to Huntsville to compete in the Southeastern Swimming short course championships with a squad of 38 swimmers.