Misha Neal is a senior swimmer at Durham School of Arts with college plans to study art history and continue her swimming career.
But first she and her art-minded teammates made some athletic history by winning the Northern Carolina Conference girls team title Wednesday at the Edison Johnson Aquatics Complex. DSA ended N.C. School of Science and Math’s three-year streak of titles since it joined the NCC four years ago.
The Bulldogs finished with 288 team points and NCSSM with 269. Neal, a returning state-meet medalist, and junior Temple Walston, a returning state-meet qualifier, both won two individual races and were part of two winning relay teams.
“This is so exciting,” Walston said. “It’s tough competing against Science and Math. But this year everyone worked hard and we powered through the season. Everyone was supportive and we had some strong performances today.”
In the boys competition, NCSSM extended its conference streak to four in a row. The Unicorns scored 306 points to DSA’s 246.
Neal won the 200 freestyle in 2:04.16 and the 100 butterfly in 1:02.90. She was a fourth-place medalist in last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A/2A meet.
“I want to win a state title, but there are some fast people in the 200 free,” Neal said. “If I improve my time I’ll still be happy with a medal. I didn’t make the finals in last year’s 100 fly, so I’ll be happy with a medal this year.”
Walston’s two individual victories were 50 free (28.27) and 100 backstroke (1:11.04). DSA’s Sarah Van Wagoner also won two individual events in the 200 individual medley (2:40.73) and 500 freestyle (6:21.61).
In the 200 medley relay, Neal and Walston teamed with Bella Cude and Hannah Yueh to win in 2:05.48. In the 200 free relay, they combined with Yueh and Gabrielle Myers for gold in 1:53.55.
The other two individual girls winners were NCSSM’s Rachael Shaugnessey in the 100 free (1:00.85) and Roanoke Rapids’ Addie Nixon in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.15.)
NCSSM’s Richard Yang, a fifth-place state-meet medalist a year in both the 200 IM and 500 free, won the 200 free (1:55.64) and 500 free (5:08.14) to lead the Unicorns to the team title.
“This is only my second year and the school and I really enjoyed the team title experience,” Yang said. “Our girls were inexperienced, but they came to work every day.”
The other double winner in the boys meet was DSA’s Myles Sims. He won the 100 free in 52.88 and the 100 breast in 1:04.90.
In the other four events, NCSSM’s Steve Park won the 200 IM, 2:19.56; NCSSM’s Andy Hoag the 50 free, 24.77; DSA’s Eugen Craciunescu the 100 fly, 1:00.46; and NCSSM’s Cole Lewis the 100 back, 1:02.16.
Park and Hoag also won two relays. They teamed with in the 200 free (1:38.78) with Matthew Zheng and Ian Bunner and in the 400 free (3:37.94) with and Lewis and Lang in the 400 free.
Boys team scores
NCSSM, 306; DSA, 246; Roanoke Rapids, 218; Franklinton, 113; Bunn, 57; Southern Vance, 25.
Girls team scores
DSA, 288; NCSSM, 269; Roanoke Rapids, 233; Franklinton, 110; Bunn, 64; Southern Vance 63