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DCHS swimmers pick up first win of season
The Dawson County swimming relay team, from left to right, Ian Bliss (SO), Gracjan Jezierski (SO), Joey Toal (SR) and Matthew Wood (SR). - photo by Bob Christian

In overwhelming fashion, the Dawson County High School swim team picked up their first win of the 2019 season on Dec. 3 in Adairsville in a three-way battle with Cass and Southeast High Schools. 

Led by seniors Matthew Wood and Kara Starr, who each picked up multiple medals on the day, the Tigers won 10 of the 17 events in what coach Linda Sperin described as an overall team effort. 

“Everybody shaved several seconds off of their times again this week,” Sperin said. “We like going to swim there, we swim there with Cass, we swim there with Adairsville. We end up there three or four times a year.” 

From the beginning it was clear that the Tigers would be the team to beat as Wood opened the event with an impressive display of speed and skill on the final leg of the 200-yard medley relay. Entering the pool nearly a full length behind, Wood not only caught up with his opponent, but touched the wall nearly a full second ahead to bring home Dawson County’s first gold medal of the day. 

Wood, a four-time state qualifier, went on to pick up another pair of gold medals with wins in his signature event, the 100-yard butterfly, and the 50-yard freestyle. As the most experienced member of the team, he acknowledged his leadership role but was quick to recognize the hard work and special nature of this year’s roster. 

“They all kind of look up to me because of my recent years in swim, my times and that I know what I’m talking about,” Wood said. “This group is already as fast as our seniors were last year, if not faster, and I think this team will a lot better than our past teams. 

As if to prove the point, sophomore Ian Bliss continued his break-out season with a handful of medals for his performance. Picking up his first medal in the opening relay, Bliss added another relay gold with the 200-yard freestyle team along with a personal gold in the 100-yard freestyle. He topped off his day with a silver medal in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing just shy of Wood in the event. 

“I just try to work as hard as I can in practice,” Bliss said. “I try and push myself a little bit more each time I swim.” 

Similar to the men’s performance, the Lady Tigers took command of the meet in the opening event as Starr, along with sophomores Ayla Millar, Anna Mulberry and Jasmine Thompson captured the gold medal in the 200-yard medley relay. 

“Our girls have grown so much this season,” Starr said. “Everyone’s doing really great this year. I’m feeling more confident about our girls’ races.” 

Starr, the longest tenured Lady Tiger, went on to capture another gold medal in the 50-yard freestyle as she led a Dawson County sweep of the top-4 spots in the race. In the 500-yard freestyle, Starr posted a personal best time of 8:17.45, good enough for the silver medal for her first career medal in that event. 

Millar led an impressive performance from the female sophomore class with a win in the 100-freestyle and the runner-up finish in the 50-yard freestyle. Fellow sophomore, Megan Dixon provided what was arguably the best moment of the day when she captured the gold medal in the 100-yard backstroke in her first career appearance in the event. 

“It was her first time swimming the 100-yard backstroke,” Sperin said. “She had done a 50-yard back and the relay, but never the 100.” 

At the end of the day, the Tigers hoisted three trophies for their efforts, topping the podium in both the boys’ and girls’ team categories along with capturing the overall prize.  

Dawson County has been on an extended break in between meets as they prepare to travel to Darlington for another tri-meet on Thursday, Dec. 12 for what will be the last event of 2019.