ATLANTA – The storyline going into the Class 6-7A GHSA State Swimming Championships on Saturday at Georgia Tech was the Lambert girls team’s chance at five consecutive state titles, a feat never accomplished in the state’s highest classification.
Instead, it turned out to be North Forsyth senior Jack Dalmolin’s dominance.
Lacking its usual depth, Lambert finished second to Walton by 123 points, just ahead of Pope, Brookwood and Lassiter, who rounded out the top five. Lambert’s boys team also impressed, finishing third behind eventual state champion Brookwood and Mill Creek.
But there in sixth place in the team standings – just one point behind fifth-place Johns Creek – was North, and in great part it had Dalmolin to thank.
The Arizona State signee took part in three state titles, finishing first in the 100-yard breaststroke in a new state record 54.89 seconds; 200 medley in 1:47.59; and anchoring a thrilling comeback win in the 200 freestyle relay with Hunter Galbraith, Skyler Kadetz and Daniel Brisuda in 3:09.32 to edge Lambert for first.
Dalmolin then swam the anchor for North in the afternoon’s final event, helping the Raiders move from last after the first stretch to third in the 400 freestyle relay for one more medal.
“It’s the best feeling,” Dalmolin said. “I love high school state meets so much. It’s one of the best. The stands are packed, and you don’t really get that at a lot of club meets unless it’s at the highest levels, like Nationals. It’s so fun to see everyone come out for a big high school event. It means the world to win one of my best events as a senior and go out like that.”
The chance for Lambert’s girls swim team to win a fifth consecutive state title was so enticing, but also fragile this season, that Lady Longhorns head coach Kerry Langley spared no expense to give her team an edge.
She put the team up in the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Atlanta and filled their time with team-bonding activities. They watched movies. They did swimming meditation.
But it wasn’t enough to overcome Walton’s depth in the sprints, not when Walton packed events with two, three, sometimes four swimmers in finals.
In past years, that was Lambert’s formula. Indeed, last season, the Lady Longhorns managed to win its fourth state title without finishing first in a single event.
Not this time.
“We knew it was going to be a really hard state meet because our top sprinters were gone,” Langley said. “If you don’t have freestyle sprinters, the 50 free, the 100 free, the 200 relay, the 400 relay are going to be really tough to scoop points. Those are four events we were kind of underdogs in.
“Unfortunately, we had some things not go our way, but in the end we’re going to be stronger for it, and we’re going to come back next year.”
Lambert’s girls managed to win the 200 medley relay with Caroline Aikins, Joonyoung Lee, Jane Johnson and Lilia Smith. The Lady Longhorns also placed third in the 200 freestyle relay with Aikins, Lee, Johnson and Claire Van Norman.
Lambert’s boys were led by Ryan Pilkington who finished third in the 100 butterfly and teamed with Chase Braithwaite, Alexander Ray and Wyatt Dalton to finish second in the 200 freestyle relay.
Class 6-7A Boys Standings
1. Brookwood 233.5
2. Mill Creek 209
3. Lambert 196
4. Hillgrove 176.5
5. Johns Creek 167
6. North Forsyth 166
20. Forsyth Central 28
21. West Forsyth 23
23. South Forsyth 21
Chase Braithwaite, Lambert: 200 freestyle relay, second
Daniel Brisuda, North Forsyth: 100 freestyle, sixth; 100 backstroke, 10th; 200 freestyle relay, first; 400 freestyle relay, third
Wyatt Dalton, Lambert: 200 freestyle relay, second; 200 medley relay, fourth; 400 freestyle relay, eighth
Thomas Eaton, Forsyth Central: 100 butterfly, eighth
Richard Cooper Gilson, South Forsyth: 100 breaststroke, eighth
Jack DalMolin, North Forsyth: 100 breaststroke, first; 200 IM, first; 200 freestyle relay, first; 400 freestyle relay, third
Hunter Galbraith, North Forsyth: 200 freestyle relay, first; 400 freestyle relay, third
Mikhail Johnston, Lambert: 400 freestyle relay, eighth
Skylar Kadetz, North Forsyth: 200 freestyle relay, first; 400 freestyle relay, third
Sven Mesihovic, Lambert: 200 medley relay, fourth; 400 freestyle relay, eighth.
Ryan Pilkington, Lambert: 100 butterfly, third; 200 freestyle relay, second; 200 medley relay, fourth
Alexander Ray, Lambert: 200 freestyle relay, second; 400 freestyle relay, eighth
Lleyton Smith, Lambert: 100 backstroke, fourth; 200 medley relay, fourth
Class 6-7A Girls Standings
1. Walton 366
2. Lambert 243
3. Pope 223
4. Brookwood 222
5. Lassiter 217.5
11. South Forsyth 94
T15. West Forsyth 71
31. Forsyth Central 31
T37. North Forsyth 14
Caroline Aikins, Lambert: 100 backstroke, fourth; 200 IM, seventh; 200 medley relay, first; 200 freestyle relay, third
Ashley Cesario, Forsyth Central: 100 butterfly, sixth; 200 freestyle, ninth
Kelsey Dekshenieks, Lambert: 1-meter diving, ninth
Kate Del Balzo, Pinecrest Academy: 200 freestyle, ninth; 500 freestyle, sixth
Bayley Frierson, South Forsyth: 200 freestyle, eighth; 500 freestyle, sixth
Jane Johnson, Lambert: 100 butterfly, fourth; 200 medley relay, first; 200 freestyle relay, third
Joonyoung Lee, Lambert: 100 breaststroke, eighth; 200 medley relay, first; 200 freestyle relay, third
Caroline Perry, South Forsyth: 100 backstroke, sixth
Sheridan Schreiber, West Forsyth: 100 breaststroke, fourth; 100 butterfly, fifth
Lilia Smith, Lambert: 100 freestyle, eighth; 200 medley relay, first; 200 freestyle, fifth
Claire Van Norman, Lambert: 200 freestyle relay, third