Pool party: Science Hill warms for regionals at Big 6 meet 

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jan 11, 2018 at 10:40 PM

BRISTOL — Science Hill didn’t bring its full squad to the Big 6 swim meet at Tennessee High School. But the Hilltoppers still had plenty of memorable performances on Thursday night.

Four swimmers — Isabell Tomita in the girls’ 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, Emma Hall in the girls’ 200 individual medley, Victor Lam in the boys’ 100 backstroke and Nour Shams in the boys’ 50 freestyle — all had state qualifying efforts.

“The kids that we brought here, I couldn’t be prouder,” said Science Hill coach Chris Coraggio, who made the decision to hold some of his top swimmers for a USA Invitational race this Saturday. “Some of these kids, they’re stepping up and getting their best times. We are not resting, trust me, and they did a great job.”

Even with a smaller team, Science Hill finished second 589-484 to Dobyns-Bennett in the combined team standings. It was closer on the boys’ side where the Indians won only by a 296-269 margin.

“The team score, I really don’t care,” Coraggio said. “We got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished here.”

The Hilltoppers ended the meet with one of their best efforts.

The 200-yard freestyle relay of Shams, Michael Miranda, Jake McMackin and William Peterson finished in 1:37:34, more than a second ahead of the D-B relay team. It was a big night for McMackin, who won the boys’ 50 freestyle in 22.69 seconds and the 100 free in 51:03 seconds.

“It surprised me. I came out after a rough week of training and had my best time in my 50 free and almost my best time in the 100 free,” MacMakin said. “It’s where I need to be in the season right now.”

There was the thrill of some victories, the agony of defeats. And unbridled joy by D’Lo Pender, who knocked over three seconds off his time in the boys’ 50 freestyle race — and celebrated in the pool afterward.

Lam won the boys’ 100 backstroke in 1:01.50 and teammate Ryan Huber finished second. Likewise, Shams finished second to McMackin in the 100 freestyle.

The four Science Hill boys also combined to finish second in the 200-yard medley relay.

Other top finishes included second-place efforts by Tomita in the girls’ 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, and Isabella Tran in the girls’ 100 backstroke. Lam had a runner-up to Dobyns-Bennett’s Anthony Walker in the boys’ 200 IM.

“This shows us what we can do as a team when we focus,” Coraggio said. “I’m going to ask these kids to bring that focus to the rest of the team. It’s going to be a tough meet for us at conference this year. We’re not loaded by any means. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but don’t bet against these kids.”

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