The Ooltewah Tidal Waves have built the strongest team in the Chattanooga Area Swim League in recent summers and are currently in their fourth straight season without a defeat.
The Stuart Heights Sharks have been the toughest test for the folks in the purple suits, but they’re still playing chase.
Ooltewah posted a 417-375 victory over the Sharks at Ooltewah on June 9. These same two teams squared off on Monday at Stuart Heights.
The Sharks closed the gap quite a bit, but the Tidal Waves are still the kings and queens of the Blue division following a 25-point win with the final score 418.5 to 393.5.
Ooltewah coach Todd Jones has built quite a team with depth in every age group and at every event. Unfortunately, families plan summer vacations during time off from school and there are times when those breaks interfere with the summer league.
The Tidal Waves were missing some key individuals on Monday, but youngsters who might not get the opportunity on other days stepped up and took advantage of a great opportunity.
Jones knew that Stuart Heights has been their biggest rival in recent summers and that rivalry just continues to grow in a very positive manner. The veteran coach knew that Monday’s meet on the road would be a key for his team and he wasn’t really sure what to expect when the day began.
His team didn’t disappoint as they led from the opening freestyle races to the final freestyle relays at the end.
Ooltewah’s lead was 41 points at 245.5-204.5 following the Individual Medley before the Sharks trimmed the difference to just 27 points following the backstroke.
Ooltewah bounced back with some fast times in the butterfly and were able to withstand any challenge from the host Sharks.
“I’ve been worried about this meet all day and I wasn’t sure we would win on the road, but we had a bunch of kids who really stepped up and posted some of their fastest times of the summer. We just keep getting better with each meet. We were able to pull this one out and I’m happy about that,” Jones said before the meet ended.
“They were starting to catch us in the backstroke, but we were strong in the fly, so I feel much better now. Stuart Heights has a really good team and they wanted to win just as badly as we did, but we just went out and did our thing.
“I keep reminding them to live in the moment and to believe in themselves. That showed up in the results tonight,” Jones said after his team improved to 5-0 with only one home meet remaining on June 28 against Dalton.
Katie Sallee has been the Stuart Heights coach for the past seven years and she’s as aware as anyone how dominant Ooltewah has been in recent years.
“We knew this was a big rematch, but we’ve having fun, enjoying ourselves and putting forth our best effort. That’s all that matters to me,” she said before the meet ended.
“Ooltewah has a really good team, but they have way more swimmers than we do and it’s hard to make that up. This is probably the closest we’ve ever been to them and that matters to me.
“Maybe one day soon, we’ll beat them, but I’m proud of our team and the way they performed tonight. We’re on the right track, but keeping it close always makes for a more exciting meet,” she added.
Keilah Holliman, Leah Boyd and Bryson Lake all maxed out with 19 points for the Tidal Waves while Noah Holliman followed with 18. Makayla McInnes and Jed Holliman were next with 17 points apiece.
Marvin Johnson was the lone Shark with 19 points. Stephen Myers followed with 17 while Sam Powe had 16.5 and Hunter Shaw 16 points.
While Ooltewah has the one home meet left with Dalton next week, Stuart Heights will be back in action on Wednesday when they host Signal Mountain in a meet rained out the first week.
They wrap up their regular season at Signal Mountain on June 28.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)