The women from Charlotte Catholic and the men from Cardinal Gibbons High Schools were the toast of the day at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary, North Carolina this weekend, as on Friday they both took home the 3A North Carolina State Championships. This classification is the second-largest in North Carolina, with 1A/2A (smallest) being combined and 4A (largest) coming just after 3A finishes.
This win was the 8th consecutive for Charlotte Catholic: a team that has a huge number of Olympic Trials qualifiers on it. It might be there last in 3A, as next season (2013-2014) they will step up with the big teams to 4A, where they’ll see a whole new level of competition. After their performance this week, though, they seem more than ready.
In the women’s meet, Charlotte Catholic jumped out to an early lead with a 1:45.52 in the 200 medley relay. That’s a new State Record, taking down a 2011 mark by Apex High School that stood at 1:45.91. The team was chased closely by Chapel Hill, until CC’s junior Maria Sheridan split a 23.45 on the anchor to pull away for a comfortable win. Sheridan, much like Virginia Tech standout Zach McGinnis, battles through epilepsy.
Sheridan was a bit shaky at the District Championships three weeks ago, but since then has been on-fire. She took 2nd in the 50 free in 24.04, just behind another State Record from her teammate Nora McCullagh. McCullagh was a 22.92 to become the first 50 freestyler in NC high school history to go under 23 seconds (the old record of 23.02 was set days before at the 4A meet by Emily Allen, and before that it belonged to Olympic Lauren Perdue.)
Sheridan also tacked on a silver in the 100 fly with a 56.09. That was about 7-tenths off of her best time, though in past seasons she’s gotten better for the USA Swimming State Championship meet which comes in March. In this race, though, she again gave up the win to a teammate with one of the best swims of the meet: Elsa Welshofer broke the 3A (though not overall) State Record by almost a full second with a 54.69.
Thanks strongly to the influences of David Marsh’s SwimMAC program and Charlotte Catholic, this class 3A is seeing new highs nearly across the board. Another 3A record went down in the 200 IM at the hands of their junior Nicole Emery in 2:02.01, clipping a second-and-a-half from her 2:03.63 at last year’s meet. Lauren Rhodes also got a class record in 1:47.98 in the 200 free. She’s another junior, and added another win in the 100 free in 50.02, and another 3A Record.
One of the few swimmers to break Charlotte Catholic’s stranglehold was Cardinal Gibbons’ Katy Stringfield in the women’s 500 free, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a record. She took down yet another 3A Record with a 4:56.08.
In the 100 backstroke, Charlotte Catholic not only broke the 3A record, they 1-2, black-and-blued it. Emery again cleared the mark in 56.51, but she finished behind teammate McCullagh who was a 55.09. The sophomore has really made huge leaps and bounds in the last year and will be a huge recruiting target in the class of 2015 if she continues on her current meteoric trajectory (she had a great meet at Winter Juniors as well).
The team wrapped up the meet with wins in both the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay, both in overall State Records (1:35.00 and 3:24.61, respectively). Rhodes anchored that 400 free relay in a 48.79. Sara Stranick also took a win in the 100 breaststroke, though alas no records as she was a 1:05.00.
Here’s what’s really scary and why this team is going to be so good: in 10 state championships (relays and individuals combined), they graduate only a single relay swim: senior Allison McDonough. This is a team that’s only about two seconds away from the 400 free relay National Record, and they have a lot of pieces that are still getting better by leaps-and-bounds. Look out for this team in 2014 to really steal some major headlines.
The men’s meet wasn’t nearly as explosive, though Charlotte Catholic’s boys started things off the same way with a win in the 200 medley relay in 1;37.98. Matthew Rigali’s breaststroke split of 26.68 was the difference maker, and Ryan Hall (21.20) won a heavyweight battle against Cardinal Gibbons’ Robbie Mohney (21.26) on the anchor. Gibbons took 2nd in 1:38.10.
Rigali was the only swimmer under a minute in the 100 breaststroke, finishing first in 58.63.
After the meet-opening 200 medley, though, the eventual champs from Cardinal Gibbons took control. Kai Wombacher took the victory in the 200 free in 1:43.17, fading back but just holding off Sava Turcanu from St. Stephens (1:43.33).
D.H. Conley’s Dalton Shaw carried a large part of the individual scoring load for his team, starting with a win in the 200 IM in 1:51.63 – a new 3A State Record. That broke a 2006 record previously held by Chris Spooner. Lane Bretschneider from Marvin Ridge took 2nd in 1:52.66.
The victories were much more evenly distributed in this men’s meet. Shaw was also 4th in the 100 fly with a 51.88 – a race that was won by Griffin Fiedler from Robinson in 50.68. Similarly, Ford High School’s Jake Pierce won the 500 free in 4:36.83 and Garrett Simpson of Crest High won the 100 back in 52.00.
Ultimately, though, the title came back to the team that won the most races. Sprinter Bailey Maloney, who is bound for East Carolina next season, swept the 50 (21.46) and 100 (46.57) freestyles. The aforementioned Hall was 2nd in the 50 in 21.76.
Thanks to Maloney’s influence in part, Cardinal Gibbons also won the 200 free relay in 1:27.51, a new Class 3A Record by a second. Maloney again anchored their 400 free relay, though no records this time, to a 3:14.63 to seal a relatively-narrow 29 point victory.
Top 10 Women’s
1. Charlotte Catholic 469
2. Marvin Ridge 258
3. Chapel Hill 228
4. Cardinal Gibbons 184
5. Robinson, J. M. 133
6. Forestview 125.5
7. Tuscola 123
8. Washington 120
9. Cox Mill 87.5
10. St. Stephens 70
Top 10 Men’s
1. Cardinal Gibbons 312
2. Charlotte Catholic 283
3. Chapel Hill 212
4. Robinson, J. M. 149
5. Marvin Ridge 132
6. Concord 115
7. North Forsyth 92
8. Conley, D. H. 87.5
9. Hickory Ridge 76
10. Asheville 73