There is the present of the area’s stellar high school swimming talent and there is a potentially even brighter future. Both were on full display over the weekend in the NCHSAA 3A and 4A state championships at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Clayton.
The present came in the form of the most outstanding boys swimmer at the 3A championships: Corinth Holders senior Connor Blandford.
Blandford doubled with gold medals in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke. His 200 IM time of 1 minute, 50.72 seconds set a 3A state record; he won the 100 breast in 1:50.72.
The Kentucky-bound Blandford achieved his 2016 double after finishing the 2015 state meet unsatisfied with a 200 IM win and 100 backstroke runner-up.
“I felt better about my breaststroke this year and the switch paid off,” said Blandford, the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the boys meet. “I just worked hard and everything came through for me this year. I felt great about both swims.”
The Pirates had an outstanding day in the pool with the girls taking a fourth place finish in the state and the boys ending up seventh.
Many of those swimmers who helped Corinth Holders register those finishes are underclassmen, just like Cleveland freshman Mitchell Langston, who took fourth in the 100 free at 48.5 seconds and ran seventh in the backstroke.
Corinth Holders freshman Rachel Strickland was third in the backstroke (56.61) and the Pirates’ 400 medley relay team of Strickland, Stephanie Grandin, Callie Blandford and Peyton Whitaker took fourth in the state.
Whitaker, another freshman, placed eighth in both the backstroke and the butterfly. Strickland was 12th in the butterfly.
The Pirates also swam to a seventh place in the 200 free (Paige Bauer, Callie Blandford, Peyton Tyler and Kennedy Rex) and 400 free relays (Whitaker, Bauer, Strickland and Grandin). Grandin added an eighth in the breaststroke and a 12th in the IM.
Callie Blandford, a freshman as well, was 14th in the IM and 18th in the butterfly preliminary rounds. Bauer took 15th in the 50 free and was 19th in the 100 prelims. Kennedy Rex was 21st in the 100 prelims.
Cleveland’s girls finished 22nd in the 400 free relay with Veronica Yuziuk, Carolyn Yuziuk, Amber Parrish and Kaylee Davis. Davis took 19th in the 50 free prelims, individually.
The Rams’ Dalton Langston finished 10th in the state in the butterfly, while South Johnston got top 20 finishes from Zachary Bridges (50 free prelims) and Bryce Sherrill (50 free prelims).
Corinth Holders boys 400 free relay team brought home a bronze medal with Bryce Sherrill, Christian Lower, Ryan Patrick and Connor Blandford. The Pirates 200 free team (Sherrill, Eric Svadeba, Chris Carter and Jacob Stokes) finished 10th in the 3A ranks.
Other notable Pirate finishes were Patrick in the 200 free (10th) and the 500 free (18th), Christian Lower (11th in the 200 IM and 13th in the butterfly) and Chris Carter in the breaststroke (14th).
In the 4A ranks, Clayton senior Dominique Quintero finished up her high school career with a 10th place finish in the 100 freestyle (52.93) and a 15th place run in the 50 free.
Comets’ junior Cara Martin was 15th at 500 meters in 5:10.07 and took 17th in the 200 IM.
D. Clay Best contributed.