According to Langston Wertz, Jr. of the Charlotte Observer, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championships in swimming have been thrown into havoc on Thursday, after the governing body for the state’s high school sports threw out ‘dozens of times’ that qualified swimmers for regional meets.
Swimmers in two conferences learned after their meets that a non-certified referee officiated several meets this season, and the conference decided that this would invalidate those times. The conferences are SoMeck 8 and Southwestern 4A, with teams listed below:
- Butler High
- East Mecklenburg
- Myers Park
- Porter Ridge
- Rocky River
- Audrey Kell
- South Mecklenburg
- West Mecklenburg
Charlotte Catholic is in the SoMeck 8, but according to the article in the observer, their swimmers were unaffected as they used a different referee. Charlotte Catholic’s girls team is a 12-time defending State Champion, most recently in 3A (the second-biggest schools), and is home to many of the most recognizable names in North Carolina High School swimming, including swimmers like Elsa Welshofer, Maria Sheridan, Lauren Rhodes, and Nora McCullagh, among others.
Still, even without Charlotte Catholic affected, most of the teams involved are perennial scorers at the state championship meets, and thus the news will be a huge shakeup. In North Carolina, swimmers must meet a pre-determined qualifying time, and then the top 24 swimmers from those Regional meets advance to the State Championship meet (in 3A and 4A, the biggest schools, it’s 8 qualifiers per event from each of 3 regions; in 1A and 2A it’s 12 qualifiers per event from each of 2 regions).
The county has added two extra meets this coming weekend to allow affected swimmers the opportunity to re-earn their regional qualifying times.
Though in North Carolina, as made clear by this ruling, officials must be certified, not every state requires officials to be certified to work high school meets, though generally speaking only certified officials are invited to work major championship meets.