Dalton Wins Bill Caulkins City Meet For Coach Todd

Defending Champ Signal Mountain A Distant Second

Saturday, July 12, 2014 - by John Hunt

Charles Todd wanted to go out with a bang and he did.

The veteran swim coach for the Dalton Dolphins announced his resignation a few days ago for a bigger and better job in the metro Atlanta area, but he wanted to put the final touches on his job as the popular summer swim league coach with a victory in the annual season-ending meet, known this year for the first time as the Bill Caulkins City Meet.

Todd’s wishes were granted as the Dolphins were indeed impressive, winning the big trophy over 14 other teams with 2,380 points for the two-day meet, which concluded Saturday night at Warner Park's pool.

Defending champ Signal Mountain, which trailed Dalton by only 55 points following Friday’s finals, finished a distant second with 2,032 while the Ooltewah Tidal Waves were third with 1.631.

Stuart Heights and Fairyland completed the top five teams with 1.454 and 1,140 points, respectively.

There were four individuals who won all five of their events for the two-day meet and thus finished with 100 points, including Fairyland teammates Ben Bevill and Ellie Taliaferro in addition to Cleveland’s Grayson Payne and Dalton’s Emilio Valdez.

These four really put on a show, but Taliaferro really went over the top with new meet records in the 50 fly and the 50 back with times of 29.57 seconds and 32.17 seconds.  And those came on the heels of Friday's record in the 100 individual medley.

Nobody works any harder and nobody makes it look any easier than this 10-year-old daughter of Audra and Robbie Taliaferro. She is really fun to watch in the butterfly, which is perhaps the hardest stroke of all to master.

“She’s a fast one,” said Kendall Jacobs, one of Fairyland’s coaches who happens to know better than anyone just how hard Taliaferro works.

“She’s been focusing on technique all season, but it’s all about fast times now.  She’s a fighter and a true racer and I’m so proud of her.

“She really hasn’t had much competition in dual meets this summer, but she got some this weekend.  But three records isn’t bad for a 10-year-old girl,” Jacobs added with a smile.

While Taliaferro had two records on Saturday, the only other times to be rewritten among the girls included Payne in the 50 back with a time of 28.55 seconds and the Signal Mountain senior girls in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:40.94, which erased the old standard of 1:43.00.

The 13-14 Dalton boys had the only record for guys on Saturday as they had a time of 1:37.36 in the 200 freestyle relay, knocking off the old mark of 1:37.92.  Ironically, only two boys records were broken on Friday and both were by Dalton in the medley relays.

Dalton’s Todd has been a real success story for the Dolphins and also for the Dalton High swim teams for the past 17 years.  He’s headed South with his head held high and a big grin on his face after his team really came ready to compete this weekend.

“I thought we looked good this weekend and I’m really pleased,” he said before the final scores had been announced.

“Our 13-14 boys broke two relay records and they swam red-hot both days.  We thought we could win it, but we’ve been working hard all summer for this moment.  It was just a super team effort all across the board.  I know our guys get a lot of attention, but we had a bunch of girls who stepped up as well.

“It feels great.  I’m leaving the program in good hands and I feel good about that, but I knew we’d be stronger on the second day and we were,” he added.

Jason Meszaros has been named the Dolphins interim head coach and that will probably be a permanent title in the coming days.  He’s been Todd’s assistant for the past seven years and is fully qualified to keep Dalton on the right track.

“The kids really exceeded our expectations, but we wanted to send coach Todd off on the right foot.  We really had something special going on this weekend.  It’s been a great meet for Dalton, but at the same time, a bittersweet experience,” Meszaros nodded.

Signal Mountain coach Stephanie Cohen knew that her team wasn’t quite as strong as it had been in recent years, but she was still pleased with the way her Green Giants performed.

“We had a good day and broke a few records, so I’m pleased for the most part,” she began.

“We can always swim faster, but we had some great races this weekend.  All I ask is they give me their best effort and to be good sports in the process.  I got both,” she added.

THE ANNUAL JENNIFER FUGATE Scholarship Awards were given before the finals began Saturday night and the two winners included Ridgeside’s Janelle Wigal and Red Bank’s Conagher Smith.

Other nominees included Ooltewah’s Kristen Boyd, Cleveland’s Nelson Chung, Ringgold’s Will Gurley, Country Club’s McCay Mathis, Signal Mountain’s Sam McHugh, Fairyland’s Quinn Nash, Fairyland’s Simon Parker, Dalton’s Stephanie Saad-Naguib and Ooltewah’s Kent Scruggs.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)

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