Propelled by big performances from several swimmers, the Paul Laurence Dunbar swim team swept the boys’, girls’ and combined team titles at the Lexington City Swim Championships at Transylvania University on Saturday.
The Bulldogs cruised to comfortable victories over second-place Lafayette in the boys’ and combined competitions but didn’t pull away from the Tates Creek girls until late, topping the second-place Commodores 347-301.
Senior Lauren Denham paced the Dunbar girls. The University of Kentucky signee won the 200 and 500 yard freestyle races and helped the Bulldogs finish first in the 200 yard medley relay and second in the 200 yard freestyle relay.
Denham has become the clear leader for the Bulldogs following the graduation of Madison Winstead, a freshman swimmer for the University of Kentucky. Dunbar Coach Cole Pleasants said Denham is thriving with the added responsibility.
“Lauren is one of our top girls, and we’ve been asking her to fill the role Madison played,” he said. “Those are huge shoes to fill, and she’s stepped up along with the other girls.”
Denham said it’s taken a total team effort to maintain the frontrunner status the program has enjoyed in recent years.
“We lost a lot of really good seniors, but our team has done a great job of rebuilding. We’ve had really good team spirit and teamwork, and I think we’re ready to come together and put on a great show at regionals,” Denham said.
The depth of the Dunbar boys’ team was on full display Saturday. Benjamin McKeown took first in the 200 medley and the 100 breast stroke. He was part of the first-place 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams along with Chase Mattingly, who won the 500 freestyle and placed second in the 200 freestyle. Alex Janes won the 50 freestyle and anchored the 200 medley relay winners.
Lafayette was led by Conner Hood, who finished first in the 100 breast stroke and second in the 500 freestyle, and helped the Generals win the 200 freestyle relay and place second in the 500 freestyle relay. Henry Clay’s Matthew Street won individual titles in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
On the girls’ side, a veteran and a youngster kept Tates Creek nipping at Lafayette’s heels all afternoon. Sophomore Rachel Klinker won individual titles in the 200 medley and 100 butterfly and team titles in the 200 and 400 free relays. Joining her on the winning relay squads was senior Mallory Shake, who won individual titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle races.
Shake said it’s been fun watching Klinker develop.
“She’s a machine, it’s been awesome seeing her step up this year,” she said. “She’s incredibly talented, and I expect big things from her.”
Commodores head coach Dave Doolin said he’s not yet sure how he’ll distribute his swimmers among the races in the upcoming 8th Region meet at Barbourville, but he’s confident Klinker and Shake will be formidable in their events.
“Having Rachel and Mallory at the top of their games like this just helps everyone else get motivated,” he said. “We haven’t decided what they’re gonna swim at regionals yet, it’s a little bit of a cat and mouse game right now with other teams, but we’re gonna lean on those two at regionals in individuals and relays.”
Dunbar will be looking to continue its regional dominance. The Bulldogs have won nine straight 8th Region combined team titles.
“We looked really strong today and we have a couple of more things to look at before regionals, but our team is really excited after this performance,” said Pleasants. “We’ve got a lot of really strong swimmers, and we’re looking forward to what’s coming up.”
Lexington City Swim Championships
At Transylvania University
Combined teams—1. Dunbar, 548; 2. Lafayette, 487; 3. Tates Creek, 427; 4. Henry Clay, 342; 5. Bryan Station, 183.
Boys—1. Dunbar, 347; 2. Lafayette, 297; 3. Henry Clay, 197; 4. Tates Creek, 165; 5. Bryan Station, 88.
Girls—1. Dunbar, 347; 2. Tates Creek, 301; 3. Lafayette, 247; 4. Henry Clay, 180; 5. bryan Station, 61.
Top Individual Finishers
Girls 200 medley relay—Dunbar (Keeton Crowe, Taylor Colony, Lauren Denham, Sarah Phillips), 1:57.97; Tates Creek (Whitney Powell, Baye Hatcher, Allison Carr, Emma Ivey), 1:59.18; Lafayette (Haley Todd, Madi Brester, Emma Lloyd, Katherine Cherry), 2:00.62.
Boys 200 medley relay—Dunbar (Chase Mattingly, Benjamin McKeown, Andy Du, Alex Janes), 1:44.17; Lafayette (Connor Hood, Jack Brester, Michael Lozovoy, Bryan McLellan), 1:47.69; Henry Clay (Dylan Ruddy, Hayden Petter, Matthew Street, Stone Poole), 1:48.60.
Girls 200 freestyle—Lauren Denham, Dunbar, 2:03.75; Madi Brester, Lafayette, 2:05.27; Katherine Cherry, Lafayette, 2:06.96.
Boys 200 freestyle—Matthew Street, Henry Clay, 1:47.72; Chase Mattingly, Dunbar, 1:52.96; Jack Brester, Lafayette, 1:56.86.
Girls 200 medley—Rachel Klinker, Tates Creek, 2:15.50; Hannah Freibert, Henry Clay, 2:18.28; Caroline McMillin, Dunbar, 2:20.98.
Boys 200 medley—Benjamin McKeown, Dunbar, 2:02.91; Stone Poole, Henry Clay, 2:08.91; Alex Sorensen, Lafayette, 2:20.98.
Girls 50 freestyle—Mallory Shake, Tates Creek, 25.73; Sarah Phillips, Dunbar, 26.28; Kelsey Siebenthaler, Dunbar, 26.49.
Boys 50 freestyle—Alex Janes, Dunbar, 23.16; Dylan Ruddy, Henry Clay, 24.04; William Toth, 24.81.
Girls 100 fly—Rachel Klinker, Tates Creek, 1:01.70; Kailey Lewis, Tates Creek, 1:05.95; Taylor Albrecht, Dunbar, 1:07.22.
Boys 100 fly—Matthew Street, Henry Clay, 52.57; Andy Du, Dunbar, 59.52; Jake Vanmeter, Lafayette, 1:01.70.
Girls 100 freestyle—Mallory Shake, Tates Creek, 56.07; Sarah Phillips, Dunbar, 56.73; Emma Lloyd, Lafayette, 58.75.
Boys 100 freestyle—Stone Poole, Henry Clay, 50.96; Michael Lozovoy, Lafayette, 51.09; Alex Janes, Dunbar, 52.77.
Girls 500 freestyle—Lauren Denham, Dunbar, 5:27.25; Katherine Cherry, Lafayette, 5:34.28; Sasha Bertleson, Lafayette, 5:56.54.
Boys 500 freestyle—Chase Mattingly, Dunbar, 4:52.50; Connor Hood, Lafayette, 5:10.81; Wyatt Jennings, Tates Creek, 5:18.25.
Girls 200 freestyle relay—Tates Creek (Rachel Klinker, Kailey Lewis, Allison Carr, Mallory Shake), 1:44.03; Dunbar (Sarah Phillips, Kelsey Siebenthaler, Cora Harter, Lauren Denham), 1:44.33; Lafayette (Katherine Cherry, Emma Lloyd, Madi Brester, Haley Todd), 1:45.47.
Boys 200 freestyle relay—Lafayette (Connor Hood, Bryan McLellan, Jack Brester, Michael Lozovoy), 1:34.84; Dunbar (William Toth, Alex Janes, Clay Ferguson, JT Salyer), 1:37.30; Tates Creek (Caleb Schaffer, TY Ryan, Sam Mattingly, Ramy Ghanim), 1:46.67.
Girls 100 backstroke—Madi Brester, Lafayette, 1:02.90; Haley Todd, Lafayette, 1:06.61; Keeton Crowe, Dunbar, 1:07.76.
Boys 100 backstroke—Connor Hood, Lafayette, 58.01; Andy Du, Dunbar, 59.49; Dylan Ryan, Henry Clay, 1:02.42.
Girls 100 breaststroke—Hannah Freibert, Henry Clay, 1:09.69; Baye Hatcher, Tates Creek, 1:11.75; Gloria Ming, Dunbar, 1:15.88.
Boys 100 breaststroke—Benjamin McKeown, Dunbar, 1:00.64; Jack Brester, Lafayette, 1:02.78; Michael Lozovoy, Lafayette, 1:06.31.
Girls 400 freestyle relay—Tates Creek (Rachel Klinker, Kailey Lewis, Whitney Powell, Mallory Shake), 3:55.98; Dunbar (Makayla Young, Kelsey Siebenthaler, Taylor Albrecht, Emily Bravard), 4:02.26; Lafayette (Gabrielle Lowell, Elise Weiler, Sarah Byrd, Jordan Haymes), 4:30.06.
Boys 400 freestyle relay—Dunbar (Benjamin McKeown, Clay Ferguson, Andy Du, Chase Mattingly), 3:32.13; Henry Clay (Matthew Street, Jack Johnson, Dylan Ruddy, Stone Poole), 3:32.16; Lafayette (Alex Sorensen, David Choate, Ethan Ferguson, Jake Vanmeter), 3:53.98.