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North Atlanta makes steady progress in pool
by Greg Oshust
January 30, 2014 03:55 PM | 2085 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / North Atlanta’s Cameron Balish warms up during practice.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / North Atlanta’s Cameron Balish warms up during practice.
Like all high school swimming and diving teams at this time of the year, North Atlanta has its sights set on the state meet, which will be held at Georgia Tech next weekend.

With three individuals — sophomores Niko Stines and Knox Willoughby and junior Joy Longley — as well as both its boys’ and girls’ 200-yard medley relay teams and boys’ 400 freestyle relay squad qualified, the Warriors look to make an impact in the Class A-AAAAA competition — where they finished 11th in the boys’ team standings in 2013.

North Atlanta coach Star Brackin said she is encouraged by the progress her team has made through the course of the season.

“The past two weeks, they’ve all been dropping times, swimming personal-best times,” Brackin said. “That’s our goal, to have them improve every swim meet and that’s what they’re doing.”

In its two biggest meets of the season, North Atlanta finished runner-up among the boys and girls at the season-opening Atlanta City Kick-Off Classic at Washington Park Natatorium in downtown Atlanta Nov. 16 as well as placing seventh and 12th among the boys and girls, respectively, at the Madeline Brown Invitational at Emory University Dec. 14.

Stines, who finished eighth in the A-AAAAA boys’ 200 freestyle at the state meet as a freshman last year, has already qualified again in that event with a time of 1 minute, 52.27 seconds as well as the 200 individual medley (2:04.07), 50 freestyle (22.90 seconds), 100 butterfly (54.41), 100 free (50.05) and 500 free (5:01).

Willoughby has qualified in the boys’ one-meter diving for the second year in a row after placing ninth as a freshman in ’13.

Senior Omar Ragheb, junior Sam Lee and freshman Yannick Smith join Stines on both the 200 free and 200 medley relay teams that are headed for the state meet, while junior Chaz Torres is another key swimmer for the North Atlanta boys.

On the girls’ side, Longley has qualified for state in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:03.84.

Longley is joined on North Atlanta’s state-bound 200 free relay team by junior Chloe Tillis, freshman Claudia Onley and sophomore Morgan Gomez.

“We’re strong in all the events,” Brackin said. “We’re strong in the boys’ relays, but we’ve had swimmers swim at their best in all the events.”

Brackin said she is looking forward to more strong performances by her swimmers at the state meet

“We did pretty well at the state meet last year and we expect the same again this year,” she said.

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