Cullman High had a very special experience at Auburn University on Saturday — but not for any of the obvious college football-related reasons.
The Bearcat boys, anchored by seniors Chaz Brouillette and Noah Price, dove and swam to 19th place out of more than 70 teams at the Alabama High School Athletic Association state championship, the program’s highest-ever result at the season-ending event.
The Black and Gold finished up at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center with 34 points, only six back of a top-15 spot. Huntsville edged Bob Jones for the title.
Brouillette closed out his prep career at Cullman by taking fifth in the 1-meter dive. Although he admittedly doesn’t know a lot about the technical aspect of diving, first-year Bearcat coach Cory Goble watched enough of Brouillette to say the two-sport athlete “looked fantastic” all season long.
Price, a team captain, was equally impressive in his sendoff, snagging 15th in the the 100- and 200-yard freestyles and helping two relay tandems reach the finals in their respective events.
“He’s definitely been a leader the entire year. He’s helped me keep everyone on track,” Goble said of Price. “Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do without him next year. We’re going to be losing a lot.”
Price, Eric Pilcher, Colby Hutson and Drake Hollingsworth combined for 11th in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Hollingsworth swapped with Elijah Price for 15th in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Though they’ll lose Brouillette and Noah Price in the spring, the Bearcats still have an extremely solid foundation to build off of moving forward. Hollingsworth is the team’s only junior, Pilcher is a sophomore, and Hutson and Elijah Price are just eighth-graders.
“They’re definitely going to be a really good group coming up,” Goble said. “We’re excited about that and the future.”
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.