It was a good day to be a CHHS.
While Chapel Hill swept the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A regional swimming championships Saturday before a capacity crowd of 1,000 that filled the balcony seating at the Triangle Aquatics Center, Corinth Holders was second in both boys’ and girls’ competitions.
Corinth Holders’ Connor Blandford is the defending state champion in the 200 IM and returning state runner-up in 100 backstroke, but this year he is chasing a state double in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke. The Kentucky-bound recruit swept the regional titles with 1:52.77 and 57.82, respectively.
“My goal was two state titles last year and it’s been my focus this year,” Blandford said. “I felt I had a better chance this year in the breast. I feel good about my times in this meet.”
Chapel Hill senior Christopher Eron won the 100 freestyle in 48.69 and was second in the 50 free (22.0). The Tigers’ other pool winner was junior Ang Li in the 100 backstroke (52.42), but sophomore Ethan Burkett added a first in diving (184.50 points).
Among the Tigers’ silver medalists, junior Jacob Werden was second in both the 200 free (1:48.45) and 500 free (4:48.77).
On the girls’ side, Chapel Hill’s Claire DeSelm was the only girls double winner with 2:09.99 in the 200 IM and 58.11 in the 100 fly.
Chapel Hill junior Uma Knaven won the 500 free in 5:10.21 and was followed by teammates Jaylen Forrest (5:11.96), Natalie Thomas (5:22.96) and Katrina Nunez (5:28.31). Forrest also won the 200 freestyle in 1:58.33.
Two other Chapel Hill gold medalists were senior Paige Jones in the 50 free (24.97) and junior Catherine Bell in diving (229.95 points).
A pair of Corinth Holders winners were freshman Rachel Strickland in the 100 back (57.88) and senior Stephanie Grandin in the 100 breast (1:08.29).
NCHSAA format: The NCHSAA confirmed its format for the boys and girls basketball playoffs, which begin in two weeks. The first week will have first, second and third round games at the higher seeds on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The second week, a change from years past, will play the fourth-round game the following Tuesday at the higher seed unless “there is an expressed concern relative to seating capacity” in which case “the NCHSAA will assist in determining if the fourth round game must be moved to a neutral high school gym.
The regional finals are still on that Saturday, with the East going to Fayetteville and the West splitting sites in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
NCHSAA swimming & diving: The Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary hosts the NCHSAA swimming state championships this weekend. With prelims in the morning and the finals starting at 4:45 p.m., the 4A championships are Thursday, 3A on Friday and 1A/2A on Saturday.
The diving competitions in each class are held the previous day at Pullen Aquatic Center in Raleigh.
NCHSAA wrestling regionals: The NCHSAA wrestling regionals are this Friday and Saturday. Area teams will travel to Princeton (1A East), Croatan (2A East), Corinth Holders (3A East) and Cary (4A Mideast). Tournament action start at approximately at 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
Baker III honored: Retiring Southeast Raleigh boys basketball coach John Baker III was honored last Tuesday before a home game with Rolesville. Southeast planned the ceremony with the cooperation of Rolesville athletics director and boys basketball coach Tommy Moore.
Moore and Baker go back to their high school days of playing against one another at Enloe and Sanderson respectively.
“It’s hard to shock me, but this was a total surprise,” Baker said. “It was really nice. With Tommy, there’s a lot of love there. He’s like me, he loves the kids and he loves coaching.”
Baker, who Southeast athletics director Keith Boddie calls “the original Bulldog,” has been the varsity boys basketball coach since the school opened in the fall of 1997.
“He’s been a big part of this community and school. He’s been the mentor for a lot of young men who have come through here. He’s taught them a lot and he’s taught me a lot. And he hasn’t lost one bit of his fire,” Boddie said. “Whether on the court, in the classroom or in the community he’s still got it.”
Tom Shanahan and Jonas Pope IV contributed.