East Chapel Hill’s state-caliber swimming program collected conference titles so routinely the Wildcats lost track of their streaks for the boys and girls teams. Somewhere around 10 or 11 for both, it is believed.
But with Cardinal Gibbons joining the PAC-6 4A this year, both meets went down to the final events Thursday morning at the Triangle Aquatic Center. ECH’s boys held on to beat Gibbons, 624.5 to 611.5, and Gibbons’ girls edged the Wildcats, 620 to 614.50.
“Our coaches had us inspired and our high school and (year-round) swimmers prepared hard,” said ECH sophomore Connor Sept, who led the boys with two individual wins and legs on two winning relay teams. “It means a lot to beat them. We wanted revenge from our dual meet loss to them. The competition is up on the league, and we like the challenge.”
When the schools met on Jan. 12 during the dual meet season, the Gibbons boys and girls teams edged ECH by identical scores, 48-46. It was the first time East Chapel Hill had ever lost a regular-season conference dual meet.
East Chapel Hill needed depth and wins in two of three relays to extend its streak since the Wildcats claimed only two of eight individual gold medals. Those were Sept’s victories in the 200 individual medley relay in 2 minutes, 2.83 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 59.60.
Sept and freshman Emile Charles both swam legs on the winning 200 medley relay (1:40.98) and 200 freestyle relay (1:32.43). They were joined Christopher Chao and Niko Perez on the 200 medley and Daniel Wohl and David Dingfelder on the 200 free.
The Wildcats also gained a win in diving from Tommy Smigla.
With Cardinal Gibbons winning four events and one relay, two victories from Durham swimmers helped ECH get by on depth. Riverside junior Josh Rigsbee won the 50 free (22.40) and Jordan’s Alex Bird the 100 fly (52.95)
Gibbons sophomore Cothalee Watko swept the 200 free (1:47.09) and the 500 free (4:53.11). Sophomore Tom Hubbard won the 100 free (50.38) and senior Christopher Raymond the 100 backstroke (54.19).
Gibbons won four of the eight individual events with two from Haley Allen, one from her sister Olivia Allen and one from Emily Dykstra.
Haley won the 200 IM (2:11.41) and the 100 butterfly (58.53).
“We knew it was going to be close with East Chapel Hill,” said Haley, who is committed to Missouri State. “I knew I had to put in my best effort.”
Olivia, a junior, won the 100 breast (1:09.67) and Dykstra, a senior, won the 500 free (5:20.06).
The meet’s other two double-winners were East Chapel Hill sophomore Sophia Perez in the 200 free (1:54.93) and 100 backstroke (59.90) and Riverside senior Sophie McNeill in the 50 free (25.07) and 100 free (53.53).
“I’m used to swimming against East, but Gibbons joining our conference this year bumped up the competition,” McNeill said. “I’m excited to win a conference title against East and Gibbons as well.”
ECH’s Alyssa Wang won the diving title.
Boys team scores
East Chapel Hill, 624.5; Cardinal Gibbons, 611.5; Jordan, 335; Riverside, 228; Northern, 137.
Girls team scores
Cardinal Gibbons, 620; East Chapel Hill, 614.5; Jordan, 371; Riverside, 235; Northern, 153.5.