The girls of W.A. Hough erased a 17-point deficit with just three events to go, taking a second and two firsts to win the girls class 4A title for North Carolina high school swimming. The Green Hope boys won by almost 100 points in a rounded team effort despite winning just one event.
Heading into the 100 back, Leesville Road led 215-298 over W.A. Hough. But Hough fired back with three massive events to end up winning by nearly 20.
The key race was the 100 breast, where Hough’s Lilly Higgs outdueled Leesville Road’s Ashley McCauley for the win, 1:01.57 to 1:01.78. Higgs shattered her own class 4A and overall state record, set at 1:01.77 in prelims.
Higgs then came back to anchor the winning 400 free relay, which went 3:24.43. She was joined by Heidi Lowe, Amaya Hanley and Kensley Merritt.
Maybe most essential to that comeback, though, was the 100 back, where W.A. Hough outscored Leesville Road 37 to 3. Merritt was second in 54.45 and Hanley took 6th with a 57.31. With Hannah Hermanson in the B final, Hough had three swimmers higher than the only scorer from Leesville Road to immediately take over the team points lead.
Leesville Road had its own dominant run earlier in the meet, though. Grace Countie won the 50 free in a new state record 22.54, and set off a run of four straight Leesville Road wins. Ashton Zuburg took diving (450.85) and Amanda Ray the 100 fly (54.28) before Countie returned to win the 100 free in 49.69, just .01 off the state record.
Leesville Road also won the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. Anna Carrigan, McCauley, Ray and Countie went 1:42.20 to set a new 4A and overall state record in the medley and Grace Newton, Caroline Keever, Brooke Morgan and Countie went 1:34.75 to win the free relay.
Sanderson’s Kenna Haney ruled the distance races, going 1:47.90 in the 200 free and 4:49.59 in the 500 free to win both. Meanwhile Apex Friendship’s Brooke Zettel won the 200 IM with a new 4A and overall state record of 1:58.31. She topped Sinclair Larson of South Mecklenburg in that race; Larson would go on to win the 100 back in 53.71.
Top 5 Teams:
- W.A. Hough – 295
- Leesville Road – 267
- South Mecklenburg – 197
- Myers Park – 188
- Apex – 148
Green Hope only needed to win the opening event to seal its team title for the boys. John Healy, Connor Dalbo, Jesse Ssengonzi and Michael Ivy combined to go 1:33.27 in the 200 medley relay, winning and coming within seven tenths of the state record.
A pair of class 4A state records fell on the boys side. Myers Park’s Jack Walker took home the 200 freestyle in 1:37.75, breaking a 12-year-old record set by Olympian Charlie Houchin. Meanwhile Tucker Burhans went 48.78 to win the 100 back for West Forsyth, breaking a state record held by eventual Texas Longhorn Kip Darmody. Burhans also won the 100 freestyle in 45.33, narrowly touching out Grimsley’s Graham Hertweck (45.35).
Hartweck won the 50 free in 20.84.
Walker would also lead Myers Park to both free relay titles. He joined Charles Clickner, Hugh Svendsen and Cameron Miller to go 1:25.28 in the 200 free relay and Svendsen, Andrew Warlick, Walker and Miller went 3:06.69 to win the 400 free relay.
Athens Drive’s Zach Brown won a pair of events as well. His 1:48.47 nearly broke a state record in the 200 IM, and he went 47.70 for another narrow record miss in winning the 100 fly.
Other event winners were Noah Zawadzki in diving (577.65), Avery Gambill in the 500 free (4:31.51) and Jacob Rauch in the 100 breast (55.70).
Top 5 Teams:
- Green Hope – 272
- South Mecklenburg – 186
- Athens Drive / Myers Park – 141
- Providence – 137