The Hilltoppers, however, paid no heed and went about producing a distinguished season — which was capped by a sixth-place showing (combined results) at this weekend’s TISCA state championships.
Coach Chris Coraggio’s squad put up 152 points in the two-day meet that concluded Saturday at the Tracy Caulkins Aquatic Center. The Lady Hilltoppers placed ninth with 84 points while the boys, totaling 68, delivered a 13th-place performance.
“At the beginning of the season, nobody was giving us much credit either in Northeast Tennessee or at the state level,” Coraggio said. “These kids worked very, very hard to get to the point that culminated in the state championship this weekend.
“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of young men and young women who came together as a team to accomplish what they were able to accomplish.”
For the Lady ’Toppers on Saturday, Haley Altman nabbed third place in the girls 100-yard breaststroke. In the process, she set a team record with a time of 1:03.22.
The 100 freestyle unfolded with Morgan Misenar coming in eighth at 51.98. Moreover, Altman, Lexi Gay, Megan Barnes and Misenar teamed to finish 13th (3:38.25) in the 400 freestyle relay.
On the boys’ side, divers Nick Van Eaton (356.15 points) and Nicholas Dorr (302.45) placed eighth and 14th, respectively, for the Hilltoppers. Teammate Dustin Niebauer swam the 100 backstroke to 13th place (54.10).
Science Hill added a pair of notable finishes in the relay events. The 400 freestyle unit of Jaydan Anderson, Nour Shams, Jonah Cathelyn and Landon Potter placed 10th at 3:19.66. Anderson, Shams, Luke Barnes and Niebauer finished the 200 freestyle in 1:30.29, good enough for 11th.
State results complemented a combined first-place finish for Science Hill at the NET regionals.
“They did a fine job,” Coraggio said of his athletes. “They gained a lot of respect through their efforts.”