BARBOURVILLE — Paul Laurence Dunbar once again found a way to rule Saturday's Region 5 Swimming and Diving Meet at Stivers Aquatic and Wellness Center.
The Bulldogs piled up 716 points to win their seventh consecutive combined title and their 13th in 14 years.
Dunbar's girls won their fifth region title in a row with 342 points, while the Bulldog boys won their third straight with 374.
"Just feeding off what we did last year," Coach Sydney Witzky said. "We just have a good tradition at this meet. We get really fired up for this meet, preparing them, letting them know 'Hey, we've got a reputation we've got to defend here, so we've got to go out there and swim fast, swim like you mean it and let's qualify as many people to State as possible.'"
The top two in each event qualify for the Pannell Swim Shop/KHSAA State Swimming and Diving Meet, Feb. 27-March 1, at the University of Louisville. Also, the next 22 top performers from each of five regional meets will qualify.
High-point scorer Madison Winstead led Dunbar's girls, winning the 100-yard butterfly and 100 breaststroke, and anchoring the first-place 400 freestyle relay.
The latter event provided one of the more exciting finishes as Lafayette's Kyrie Dobson nearly caught Winstead.
"That girl, Kyrie, she's a monster," Winstead said. "I mean, she's gone faster than some of these boys are splitting so I kept telling my relay 'I need three seconds! I need three seconds!' Give her 10 more yards, she would have won. We just put a little faith in my teammates, and our goal was we had to have a good seed time for State no matter what happens."
That they got, winning in a region-record 3:35.01 to Lafayette's 3:35.59.
Dunbar's other wins came from Lauren Denham in the 200 freestyle and Sydney Toth in the 100 backstroke.
About the only thing that didn't go Dunbar's way was the 200 freestyle relay. The Bulldogs were disqualified for an early takeoff on the anchor leg.
Dobson was, indeed, a monster. Named the outstanding female competitor, she defended her titles in the 50 and 100 freestyles, clocking a meet-record 23.51 in the short sprint. She also anchored the Generals to a meet-record 1:38.49 win in the 200 free relay.
"It wasn't my best time, but I was hoping to get the record," she said. "And I had a bunch of my (club) teammates chasing me, so it really helped."
Also notching double wins was Morgan Lakes of Madison Central, in the 200 individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle.
"Both of them were great wins," she said, "and I had great competition in both: Paige Ezell (of Lexington Catholic) in the 200 I.M. and Emily Davis (of Lexington Christian) in the 500."
Dunbar's boys' team title came even though the Bulldogs didn't win an event. Their best finishes were seconds in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.
Tates Creek's Ethan Curl earned the male outstanding competitor award. He defended titles in the 200 and 500 freestyles, breaking his own meet record in the long-distance event with a time of 4:38.02. That knocked three-tenths of a second off the mark he established in Friday's preliminaries.
"It was good. I tried something different from my prelim swim," he said. "I went out a little bit slower than yesterday because I was trying to get under 4:35. ... But it's just all getting ready for State."
Curl also swam on the winning 200 medley relay and second-place 400 freestyle relay.
Also chalking up two individual wins was Andrew Freibert of Henry Clay, who captured the 50 and 100 freestyles.
"They're about equal: I kind of do the same in each event, so it's good to have both," he said.
Freibert also anchored the winning 400 freestyle relay and led off the fourth-place 200 free relay.