Evans junior Martin Kata is no stranger to a first-place finish. The year-round swimmer tore through the Knights' regular-season meets without losing a single race.
However, even he had a few butterflies when Evans traveled to Atlanta on Saturday for the GHSA State Championships.
"I was pretty excited but a little nervous, too," Kata said. "There was some pressure because I knew this other kid could go under a minute."
Kata was referring to the boys 100-yard breaststroke event. His main opponent, Westminster of Atlanta's Matt Lunati, did swim the event in under a minute, with a time of 59.51. However, Kata beat the time by 0.79 second for a first-place finish. The win gave Kata his first high school state championship.
He also took second place in the boys 100-yard freestyle.
Evans swim coach Lane Schuckers said it's the school's first swimming state championship in two years.
"We had a state championship nine years ago, and Martin's brother (Christian Kata) won one two years ago," Schuckers said. "Those are the only Evans state champions in swimming."
Kata wasn't the only swimmer to find success on Saturday. Fellow junior C.J. Hendry took home two medals herself with second- and third-place finishes in the girls 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard freestyle.
"I knew she would be in the top five, definitely. She swam good," Kata said.
With the record-breaking four medals Evans took home, the Knights finished the competition in seventh place for the boys and eighth for the girls.
Despite the success, Schuckers still left the state competition with a bad taste in his mouth. Two of the four relay teams were disqualified and lost valuable team points. In the boys 200-yard freestyle, one swimmer jumped too early. The disqualification in the girls 400-yard free-style relay was a bit more controversial.
"They were disqualified for not getting out of the water in a timely fashion," Schuckers said. "It was the very last event. I want an explanation on that one. It shouldn't have been a DQ."
Schuckers said the team might have finished in the top five if their relay times had counted.
Without the relay points, the Knights and Lady Knights still had one of their best state tournament performances ever.
"All but one swimmer bettered their time," Schuckers said. "We had a good meet so it was frustrating that we had the disqualifications. It was still a real good meet."
While the Evans girls and boys finished seventh and eighth respectively, the Lakeside boys came home with a ninth-place finish. The Lady Panthers took 14th place, while Greenbrier's boys finished in 35th place and the girls took 37th.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.