It was all about the times.
Given their domination of PAC-6 swimming for the past five years, East Chapel Hill’s swimmers expected to win last Tuesday’s Piedmont Athletic Conference championships in Koury Natatorium. Hitting a personal best time was more important to them than just taking first place.
“Our boys had 41 best times and our girls had 40 best times at the PAC-6 meet,” East Chapel Hill coach Lyn Smith noted. “They have worked hard all season, and 81 season best times was outstanding.”
Unlike the close battles for the boys’ and girls’ championships of last week’s Big Eight Conference meet, the PAC-6 meet was a runaway for East.
The Wildcats won the boys’ conference championship with 715 points, 258 ahead of runner-up Jordan; Riverside (388) was third and Northern Durham (145) fourth.
East Chapel Hill’s girls, with 755 points, won by almost the same margin over Jordan (508); Riverside had 363 and Northern 238.
Of the meet’s 24 events, the East females won 11 and East’s males won nine. The Wildcats swept all six relays.
Duquesne signee Morgan Smith and ninth-grader Sophie Perez were both double winners for East Chapel Hill, as was Johns Hopkins signee Michael Wohl.
Other winners for East Chapel Hill’s girls included CeCe Marzinsky in the 100 butterfly (1:00.17), and Annie Huang in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.36).
East Chapel Hill ninth-grader Alyssa Wang won the 1-meter diving championship with a girls’ meet record 419 points. Lindsey Ruderman of Jordan (307.55) was second and East’s Maya Sokoletsky was third with 294.25, despite bettering her winning score from 2014 by more than nine points.
Sophie McNeill, one of Morgan Smith’s teammates on the Duke Aquatics club, was a double-winner for Riverside’s girls, winning the 200 and 500 free.
Winners for East’s boys included freshmen Adam Huang in the 500 free (5:31.97), Christopher Chao in the 100 back (57.86) and Connor Sept in the 100 breast (1:00.62). East senior Bijan Zakerin won the 50 free in 23.40 seconds.
Smith was done early, getting firsts in the opening three women’s events. She anchored the leadoff 200 medley relay and swam to first places back-to-back in the 200 individual medley (2:13.40) and 50-yard freestyle (25.58).
“I love relays. Always have. Always will,” Smith said. “It’s just so rewarding when you can swim alongside your best friends.”
Perez led off the winning 200 medley relay (1:53.72) and later won the individual 500 free (5:10.99) and the 100 backstroke (1:00.39). Her time in the 500 blew away the field — beating runner-up Sadie Schulman of Jordan by more than 17 seconds and bettering last year’s winning time of 5:38.13.
East finished 1-2-3 in the 200 free, with Wohl winning in 1:45.53, followed by sophomore Conrad Weiden (2:05.19) and junior Hayden Ransbury (2:08.93).
Michael Wohl didn’t match his 2014 championship-winning time in the 100 free of 47.89 seconds, but still turned in a 47.94 to lead a 1-2-3-4 finish for East. His brother, sophomore Daniel Wohl (50.66) was second, followed to the wall by James Gildard and Andrew Cho.
East demonstrated its tremendous depth by finishing 1-2-3-4 in the final event, although only the first two teams scored points for East under meet rules.
The Wohls swam the last two legs of the winning 400 free relay (3:29.96), which was led off by Chao and featured Gildard on the second leg.
East’s Karlton Tate, Cho, Huang and Niko Preze were second in the 400 relay in 3:49.34. East’s Victor Ding, Sam Grizzle, Conrad Weiden and David Margolies were third, and East teammates Salaiman Mavins, Coby Wlson, Mickey Herrin and Ben Meadows were fourth.
“The conference meet is a game of numbers and talent,” Jordan coach Daniel Miller said. “It’s good to have a lot of swimmers and it’s good to have talent.
“East isn’t that much bigger (a team) than we are, but they have a lot of diversity — a lot of club swimmers on their team who are talented.”