A familiar name repeated over and over was Chapel Hill’s boys and girls swimming teams as they swept the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A East Region championships Friday night at the Triangle Aquatic Center.
The Tigers’ boys won their fourth straight 3A regional title and the girls their second in a row.
“We lost some seniors, so we weren’t sure what we had this year,” Chapel Hill senior Uma Knaven said. “I’m really proud of our team. It’s great to see some people step up. They lowered their times and finished in higher places.”
Knaven, who is committed to Denver University, swept the 200 individual medley and her specialty, the 500 freestyle. Her 200 IM time was 2 minutes, 9.33 seconds, and she won the 500 (5:14.86) by nearly seven seconds.
Other Chapel Hill girls gold medalists were freshman Mia Rose in the 200 freestyle (1:59.46) and freshman Clara Tate in diving (355.55 points). Rose added a second in the 500 free (5:21.46).
The Tigers boys were led by wins from senior Ang Li in the 200 free (1:43.18), junior Jordan Ren in the 200 IM (1:55.60) and junior Thomas Bretzmann in the 500 free (4:44.76).
The top eight finishers from three heats in each event advanced for the 3A state finals Feb. 11 at the TAC. Triangle swimming dominated the 3A East meet, with area boys winning six of eight individual pool events and Triangle girls seven of eight.
Chapel Hill winners were routinely called out by the announcer, but a new name heard atop the victory stand from a school without a strong swim tradition was Orange’s Ben Scott. The junior swept the 50 free (21.51) and the 100 butterfly (52.21). Scott transferred from Alamance Christian, which doesn’t have a swim team, to enjoy the high school experience.
“You get kind of tired swimming year-round (in club programs),” Scott said. “I know so many people that swim in high school, and I thought it would be fun.”
In the 100 butterfly, Scott twice had to hold off Chapel Hill junior Adam Batson (52.29) to win by .08.
Batson pulled even with him at 50 meters before Scott surged back in front. Batson pulled even again at 75 meters, but down the stretch Scott had one final surge at the flags at eight meters from the finish wall.
“I just held my breath into the wall,” Scott said. “I think not breathing was the difference.”
It’s a demanding double to win back-to-back events, although he received a break with an award ceremony separating the two events.
“Orange is a big school, but it has a small swim team,” Scott said. “I like the school, and I’m happy I can be a double winner for it.”
Other boys winners were Cedar Ridge senior Christian Fischer in the 100 free (48.53), Aycock senior Zech Chastain in the 100 backstroke (51.57) and South Brunswick’s Tyler Bowersox in the 100 breaststroke (57.80). Topsail’s Jake Sparshott won the diving (273.40 points).
In two Chapel Hill relay wins, Batson and Ren teamed with Jacob Werden and Kou Li to win the 200 medley relay (1:39.71). Carson Wickman joined Batson, Bretzmann and Li to win the 400 free relay (3:18.62).
South Brunswick’s team of Bowersox, Chris Anselmo, Matt Anselmo and Owen Bell won the 200 free relay (1:30.96).
Corinth Holders sophomore Peyton Whitaker wanted to leave her mark in the 3A ranks before her school moves up to 4A next year. After finishing second in both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke a year ago, she wisely switched to what turned out to be a sweep of the 50 free (24.18) and the 100 free (52.80).
“I’m very surprised,” said Whitaker, who led the Pirates’ runner-up finish with 411 points. “I wanted to swim the best I could and score team points, but I didn’t expect to win two races.”
Two Pirates teammates adding wins were freshman Acacia Jones in the 100 butterfly (59.42) and sophomore Rachel Strickland in the 100 backstroke (58.19).
Whitaker, Jones and Strickland also contributed to the Pirates sweeping the relays.
Whitaker and Strickland teamed with freshman Alexis Carter and sophomore Callie Blandford in the 200 medley relay (1:52.34). Jones and Blandford were joined by sophomore Kennedy Rex and sophomore Paige Bauer in the 200 free relay (1:42.22). Rex, Strickland, Jones and Whitaker won the 400 free relay (3:40.37).
The 100 breaststroke was won by West Carteret senior Vero Munagorri in 1:09.05.
1. Chapel Hill, 456.5; 2. South Brunswick, 277; 3. Corinth Holders, 249; 4. Orange, 216; 5. Cleveland, 140; 6. Swansboro, 133; 7. Topsail, 105; 8. Cedar Ridge, 93; 9. Hunt, 89.5; 10. Jacksonville, 73.
1. Chapel Hill, 476; 2. Corinth Holders, 411; 3. Topsail, 201; 4. Northwood, 172; 5. South Brunswick, 148; 6. West Carteret, 139; 7. Orange, 111; 8. Fike, 96; 9. Cedar Ridge, 91; 10. Nash Central, 68.