Apex’s girls swimming team repeated as the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference champion, but the Green Hope boys rebounded from a 2016 runner-up finish to win the boys title in Friday night’s finals at the Triangle Aquatic Center.
Apex’s girls again defeated Green Hope with depth despite the Falcons winning five of the eight individual swimming events and all three relays. With 18 spots scoring points in the nine-team league, the Cougars finished with 704.5 points to Green Hope’s 634.
“We tried to get those seconds, thirds and fourths,” said junior Ann Pozder, who repeated as the 500 freestyle winner in 5:00.04. “Our team is so much fun. We worked as a team to win the title again. That’s what makes swimming as a team fun.”
Maya Aizhulora was the Cougars’ only other individual winner as she repeated in diving with 343.35 points.
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In the boys race, Green Hope had to edge out Athens Drive’s rapidly-improving program. The Falcons scored 597 points to the Jaguars’ 412. A year ago it was the Apex boys that won as the Cougars double-dethroned Green Hope.
“It was a long night, but our boys really stepped up,” said Green Hope boys and girls coach Julia Herman.
With the Green Hope boys return to the top, it was the Falcons’ eighth title in the last nine years.
A look at the double-winners shows that Apex isn’t alone in challenging the dominance of Green Hope in a conference that is one of the strongest in North Carolina. The SWAC may be deep, but three other schools made their marks with double-winners: Middle Creek, Athens Drive and Cary.
The girls’ MVP award was split between two double-winners, Middle Creek senior Julia Poole and Green Hope senior Samantha Medlin.
The boys’ MVP honor was divided between three double-winners, Cary senior Rhys Kawaguchi, Middle Creek junior Kevin Plewniak and Athens Drive junior Zach Brown.
The N.C. State-bound Poole’s double was her second straight in the same events. She won the 200 individual medley (2:03.11) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.50). Both times were better than a year ago for the defending 4A N.C. High School Athletic Association state champion.
“I think it’s a special conference with the amount of high-level swimmers we have,” Poole said. “(Club swimmers) have the option of not competing in high school, but we have a lot that compete. I like that because it’s good to represent your school.”
Medlin won the 200 free (1:51.54) and 100 free (53.68) and her sophomore sister Lauren Medlin took the 200 IM (2:03.11).
Green Hope’s other individual champions were junior Rebecca Ssengonzi in the 100 butterfly (58.32) and Kate Moore in the 100 backstroke (57.40).
Moore, Ssengonzi and Lauren Medlin teamed with Katie Sanders in the 200 medley relay (1:48.92); Samantha and Lauren Medlin, Ssengonzi combined with Emma Sayma to win the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.28); and Moore, Katie Sanders, Hanna Kota and Samantha Medlin in the 400 free relay (3:38.40).
With three boys as double-winners, that only left two other individual champions among the eight pool events. They were both Green Hope swimmers, junior John Healy in the 100 backstroke (52.21) and Dalbo Connor in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.05).
Kawaguchi, who is committed to Drexel, repeated as a double-winner in the 200 free (1:44.72) and 500 free (4:42.75). He said this year’s double was against stronger competition, especially from long-time friend and Marlins of Raleigh club teammate Drew Hollet of Green Hope. Hollett was second in both events.
“The competition was tougher this year, and he really pushed me to win,” Kawaguchi said.
Plewniak won the 50 free (21.97) and the 100 free (49.12).
Brown won the 200-IM (1:56.02) and 100 butterfly (51.06). A double was his goal after finishing first and second in his specialties last year, with the second in the butterfly to teammate Tyler Silver, who is now a freshman swimmer at Florida.
“I wanted to continue Athens Drive having a double winner,” Brown said. “We don’t have as many kids as Green Hope, but we’re catching up. We’ve improved every year since my freshman year.
The boys diving winner was Cary senior Samuel Handy with 262.85 points.
SWAC TEAM SCORES
1. Apex 704.5
2. Green Hope 634
3. Panther Creek 392
4. Apex Friendship 213.5
5. Middle Creek 182
6. Cary 170
7. Athens Drive 131
8. Holly Springs 111
9. Fuquay-Varina 7
1. Green Hope 597
2. Athens Drive 412
3. Panther Creek 391
4. Cary 347
5. Apex 235
6. Apex Friendship 197
7. Middle Creek 158
8. Holly Springs 141
9. Fuquay-Varina 41