Ravenscroft’s girls and Cary Academy’s boys hauled home the heftiest bags of swimming medals from the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state championships staged Monday morning at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Meet officials moved the competition to an 8:30 a.m. start and canceled medal ceremonies from the combined 3A and 2A/1A meet in order to get the teams out of the pool and on the road in a race against an approaching winter storm.
Thus, Ravenscroft’s girls toted home a hefty bag that included the 3A team trophy, while Cary Academy’s boys came from behind in the final event to claim a 3A team co-championship.
Boys 3A: Cary Academy’s first state title in boys swimming was won with depth as the 400-yard freestyle relay was its only victory. The first-place finish combined with Charlotte Latin placing made up eight points to finish in a tie with 310 team points.
Senior Yujian Tang, sophomore Ari Kaufman, junior Sebastian Kettner and senior Michael Todd set a school record time of 3 minutes, 16.84 seconds in the dramatic finish. Todd also contributed runner-up performances in the 200 free and 500 free, and Kettner was second in the 100 free.
“Absolutely, we’ll take it,” Chargers head coach and athletic director Kevin Jones said of the co-championship. “That relay race was one of the most remarkable I’ve swims I’ve been around. There were three teams with a half-second of each other the whole way.”
Charlotte Latin needed to place second to hang on to the state lead, but Cannon School edged Latin, 3:16.97 to 3:17.15.
In other boys 3A races, Durham Academy senior Nathan Greeley won the 200 individual medley in 1:58.51.
Girls 3A: Ravenscroft won its third straight team title, but this time the Ravens avenged a loss in the conference championship to Cary Academy. Ravenscroft led the Chargers by three points entering the final event and won by six seconds to pull away for a winning margin of 288 points to Cary Academy’s 275.
The Ravenscroft team of sophomore Madeline High, freshman Grace Bergstrom, freshman Mary Pruden and junior Chloe Mikles led from start to finish. Cary Academy was fourth.
Mikles also swept the 50 free (24.11) and the 100 free (51.94) for the third straight year, swam legs on winning 200 free relay (with freshman Kaitlin Ramsden, Bergstrom and senior Kathleen Brandes) and 400 free relay teams for the third year in a row and now has a hat trick of team titles, but she didn’t take this season’s meet for granted.
“It’s definitely still exciting,” Mikles said. “Each year it has been closer, and this year we wanted to win after we lost conference to Cary Academy. We have a really young team, and it’s exciting we’ll all be back next year.”
High also won the 100 butterfly for the second straight year in 55.86, and Pruden won the 200 IM.
Boys 1A/2A: St. David’s sophomore Riley Mears swept the 200 IM and 500 free for the second straight year. He took the 200 IM in 2:00.70 and the 500 free in 4:48.58.
Two other area winners were Cary Christian sophomore C.J. Van Vooran in the 200 free (1:47.41) and Trinity Academy Raleigh junior Riley Voth in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.85).
Girls 1A/2A: No one had an earlier start to the meet than Abigail Lloyd, a junior at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill.
She sang the national anthem to open the meet and then took two gold medals in the 200 freestyle (1:56.62) and the 500 free (5:13.97).
“She was fantastic at both singing and swimming, but I’m biased,” said Trinity coach Janet Ray, the Lions’ swimming coach and Lloyd’s chorus teacher.
Southern Pines’ O’Neal School won both the boys and girls team titles.