Green Hope’s boys are aiming for a third straight N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state championship and a seventh straight conference title. Even without some returning swimmers, who chose to train elsewhere, the Falcons have reason to aim as high as always.
After all, last year’s title came without winning a single event. There should still be enough talent coming into the program to keep the Falcons a force in 4A.
Swimmers such as junior Henry Hollinshead, senior Chris Daniels, senior Seth Maslowski, senior Alex Carson, senior Gavin McCulloch and senior Noah Sayre, who gave Green Hope enough depth to go back-to-back, will be relied on more. Junior Connor Slater was a state qualifier in diving.
Apex, which finished second in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, returns four state qualifiers: junior William Ritchie, senior Brayden Lauffer, junior Brandon Medins and junior Brian Legarth.
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Panther Creek returns senior Jamison Hauser, who finished fourth in the 500 freestyle one year after winning the 4A title in the event. The Catamounts also return state diving champ Connor Callahan, a junior. Senior Ryan Mathes, senior Leif Reedstrom and sophomore Peter Compton also were state qualifiers.
Cary, which finished fourth in the SWAC and 10th at states, will be led by senior Justin Ress, the top-ranked college prospect in North Carolina. Ress is an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 200-meter backstroke, 200 individual medley and 400 IM. The N.C. State recruit won the 4A 500 freestyle.
Teammate and Eastern Michigan recruit Tosh Kawaguchi was fifth in the 100 backstroke. The Imps also return sophomore Garrett Troxler, senior Chase Millar, junior Will Atkinson and sophomore Rhys Kawaguchi.
Middle Creek returns Quinlan DeVal, a senior who qualified for states in diving.
Athens Drive returns three state qualifiers: junior Tyler Silver, senior Jackson Richards and junior Thomas Bell.
Holly Springs sophomore Andrew Capobianco was fifth in the state in 4A diving.
Fuquay-Varina does not return a state qualifier.
Green Hope was third in the NCHSAA 4A girls swimming championships.
The 200-yard free relay, which was third, returns intact with senior Christiana Cornea, sophomore Samantha Medlin, senior Emily Etgen and junior Brooke Rubendall. The third place 400-yard free relay returns Cornea, Jenny Nusbaum and Rubendall.
Also returning is sophomore Kate Moore and senior Cami Andreini, as well as senior diver Mackenzie Michael.
Apex was one spot behind Green Hope in the 4A state meet.
The Cougars are expected to be led by Claire Williams, who was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.5) and by juniors Ashlyn Butkowski and Hannah Day, who were fourth and fifth in the 500 free. Juniors Kathryn Godlewski and Olivia Hair return as does sophomore Madison Deters.
Panther Creek – third in the SWAC and seventh in the state – returns all but two state qualifiers. Junior Kristen Quint, senior Julie Hu, senior Haley Bishop, senior Madison McGroarty and sophomore Annie Bisantz are back.
Bishop, a Kansas recruit, was third in the 4A 100 butterfly and fourth in the 50 freestyle.
Cary – fourth in the SWAC and sixth in the state – brings back senior Christine Kerr, who was third in the 4A 100 freestyle and fifth in the 50 freestyle as well as sophomore Elena Adcock and junior Carson Steidinger.
Middle Creek sophomore Julia Poole will try to become the program’s first state champion. She was second in the 200 IM last year. The Mustangs also return junior Sara Giamber, junior Emily Stringfellow and sophomore Charlotte Watts.
Athens Drive graduated all four of its state qualifiers, while Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina did not have any.