It was perhaps the best performance by a collection of county swimmers at the GHSA Class AAAAA-A Swim and Diving Meet in county history.
As seniors Josh Thruston and Kamaria Mahone saw a close to their high school career, Panthers freshman Danielle Melilli ushered in a new era with a strong showing on Saturday at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.
As the only male scorer for the Panthers, Thruston accounted for all 30 of the team’s points as Chapel Hill placed 33rd out of 62 teams at the two-day meet.
Mahone and Melilli helped the Panthers score 52 points with Mahone finishing with 24 points while Melilli had 22 points.
Marist won the girls title for the second straight year with 225 points. Taking second in the Class AAAAA-A championship was Dunwoody (215 points) followed by Sequoyah (192). On the boys side, Westminster repeated as champion with 362.5 points followed by St. Pius X (256.5) and then Chamblee (256).
Chapel Hill girls’ 200-yard relay continued to shatter the county record books during the finals by going one minute, 55.07 seconds to break its previous mark set during Friday’s preliminaries.
Mahone and Melilli were joined by Madison Fundora (freshman) and Emily Austin (senior) to become the first county relay team score at the state meet. The foursome placed 15th overall in the finals.
“I’m glad to be a part of this group,” Melilli said. “I thought everyone did well.”
Melilli joined Mahone as the only freshmen to make finals at the state meet, but is the first one to make the championship heat of a finals event. A year-round swimmer, Melilli placed ninth overall with a time of 54.27 seconds in the 100 free race.
She set a new county mark in the prelims with a time of 53.7 seconds to qualify for the championship finals.
Melilli finished 16th overall in the 50 free at 25.04 seconds.
“I’m really happy with my performance,” Melilli said. “I’m just happy to be a part of this meet and help my team. I was really nervous at first but I’ve done (big meets) before so I was trying not to overthink it.”
Thruston, a Clarion University signee, became the first county swimmer to make the champions heat in two finals’ events. He placed seventh in the 100 free with a time of 47.3 seconds and was ninth at 59.81 in the 100 breaststroke.
“I was pretty happy at how I did this weekend,” Thruston said. “It is not exactly the times that I wanted but it was pretty close. I’m happy at the way it turned out for me. It was a good and exciting me and a great way to close out my high school career.”
Mahone, a Campbell University signee, placed 15th in the 100 free at 55.05 seconds and was eighth in the 100 back with a time of 59.05 seconds.
“It was a fun meet but kind of sad in being your last high school meet,” she said. “I got a chance to swim one last time with some girls I started out with in swimming. As I close this chapter, I’m looking forward to the future and swimming in college next season.”
Mahone, who swims year-round with the DeKalb Aquatics Tigersharks, will now get ready for the Junior Nationals in Orlando next month.
“Training for that starts on Monday, and that is always an exciting meet,” said Mahone, who finished in the top-100 last year in the 100 backstroke event. “I’m going to take this is motivation as I look forward to going to the next level. The next month will be hard trying but an exciting time.”
Thruston called his last high school meet sort of bittersweet as he looks to move on to the next level. He said making two finals this weekend was exciting and has boosted his confidence.
“It just shows that my hard work has paid off,” Thruston said. “I’m really happy with two top-10 finishes because it just shows that I can swim with some of the top swimmers in the state.”
Traditionally, Georgia is one of the top swim states in the country, and Thruston trains year-round with Swim Atlanta, one of the top programs in the country.
He said ended his high school career at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center was special because that is where he trains.
“It was definitely nice swimming it here at Georgia Tech,” Thruston said. “It is a pool that I know and swim in just about every day. It was a great ending to my four-year high school swim career.”