West Johnston High graduate Sarah Henry won a gold medal in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, earlier this month.
A senior at Texas A&M, Henry was a member of the winning U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay team with Andrea Murez, Chelsea Chenault and Megan Romano. The U.S. teams time of 7 minutes, 55.53 seconds was less than a quarter-second ahead of the Russian Federation team.
It was a great accomplishment, Henry said. The Russians brought their A world team, and we were like a B team, the top non-Olympians, taking on Olympic swimmers.
Winning a relay medal is great because you know the best chance you have to win a medal, especially for the U.S. in the Olympics, is on a relay team.
It really made me think about the 2016 Olympics and what might happen there if I make the team.
Henry, who had four top-10 individual finishes in the NCAA Championships this spring, also finished second in the 200-meter individual medley with a personal-best time of 2:12.69.
Henry said the medal ceremony was an unusual experience for her.
It was a very pro-Russian crowd, about two or three thousand fans, she said. They really cheered the Russians, but if U.S. swimmers won, it was very quiet.
Henry and her Texas A&M teammates who also competed in the Games, flew from Houston to Moscow and had a nine-hour layover before flying to Kazan. She admitted jet lag and dehydration affected her early events, and getting used to the sun rising at 4 a.m. and not setting until nearly 9:30 nightly took some getting used to as well.
The 400 individual medley was held the first day of the competition, and Henry admitted she struggled, despite finishing seventh (4:46.02).
It was Henrys second international competition that required nearly a full day of travel to reach her destination. She previously competed in Australia.
She next competes in the U.S Open Championships (Tuesday through Aug. 3) in Irvine, Calif. Henry plans to enter the 800, 400 and 200 freestyles and the 200 and 400 individual medleys.
Football practice: N.C. High School Athletic Association teams begin official practice on Thursday.
Most teams have had voluntary workouts all summer, and many have participated in 7-on-7 passing events, but the NCHSAA mandatory five-day conditioning period begins next week. Each player must have five days of conditioning before being allowed to have body-to-body contact.
The NCHSAA board discussed the need for the conditioning period years ago. Several members argued it was not needed because the players had been working throughout the summer. But the majority felt strongly that the conditioning period was needed to guarantee each player had at least five days to get acclimated to the heat and stress of practice.
Cary wrestling: Rising junior Will Clark recently became the third Cary High wrestler to place in the ASICS/Vaughan Cadet & Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D.
Clark, wrestling in the 132-pound Cadet division, won his first six matches but lost to eventual champ Carter Happel from Iowa. Clark lost his next two matches to finish eighth. He was the only North Carolina wrestler to finish among the top eight.
Clark lost one high school match last year and was third in the NCHSAA 4A championships in the 126-pound class.
Commitments: Four area volleyball players recently announced commitments: Abby Findley, Fuquay-Varina (Campbell); Tara Dotzauer, Millbrook (U.S. Naval Academy); Daria Robinson, Hillside (Delaware); and Moriah Smith, Cary Academy (The Citadel).
Rising junior Hailey Brooke McFadden of Wake Christian committed to Wake Forest for volleyball. Leesville Road senior Mackenzie Dipper has committed to Elon for womens soccer, and Clayton senior Jenna Harris has committed to Presbyterian for softball.
Winning streak: Northern Guilford will enter the 2013 football season with a 23-game winning streak. East Wake, which has won two straight, is in the top 12, but to be included in the N.C. Prep Football listing, teams either had to win a state title or not make the playoffs.
East Wake finished 2012 with three strong games, losing to Southeast Raleigh 20-14 and beating Smithfield-Selma 62-14 and West Johnston 27-23.
D. Clay Best and J. Mike Blake contributed.