High School Sports

Chapel Hill boys and Cardinal Gibbons girls win Big 8 Conference swimming titles

Cardinal Gibbons' Noah Cairns competes in the men's 200 Yard IM at the Big Eight Conference championships at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary on Tuesday, January 27, 2015.
Cardinal Gibbons' Noah Cairns competes in the men's 200 Yard IM at the Big Eight Conference championships at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary on Tuesday, January 27, 2015. newsobserver.com

Cardinal Gibbons’ girls broke up a second straight Chapel Hill boys-girls sweep of the Big Eight 3A Conference championships in a battle that came down to the final event Tuesday night at the Triangle Aquatic Center.

Gibbons was clinging to a lead of 552-549 entering the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Crusaders’ first three girls built a lead that anchor Emily Dykstra extended to win in 3 minutes, 38.46 seconds to Chapel Hill’s 3:40.53.

“I was happy to see I had a lead,” Dykstra said. “I just swam as hard as I could.”

Chapel Hill won the boys’ title with 664.5 points to Cardinal Gibbons’ 626.

Of the eight boys’ individual events, Cardinal Gibbons claimed four titles and Chapel Hill three.

Of the eight girls’ individual events, Chapel Hill captured four crowns and Cardinal Gibbons three.

Girls: Dykstra leads way with four titles

Dykstra, a junior, won two individual titles as well as two relays, but there was no question the 400-freestyle relay mattered most to her.

“It’s definitely the most important,” she said, “To win a race that decides the team title is an amazing feeling.”

Dykstra showed speed and distance as she swept individual events in the 200 free in 1:56.40 and the 500 free in 5:10.32. Her fourth gold medal was anchor on the 200 freestyle relay foursome.

“I like it,” Dykstra said of her versatility. “My (club) team trains distance as a foundation and we also do sprints. I like knowing my (high school) coach can throw me in any event to help the team.’

Defending girls’ state champions to win conference titles were Chapel Hill’s Claire DeSelm and Cedar Ridge’s Rebecca Churchill.

DeSelm won the 200 individual medley in 2:10.32 and the 100 butterfly in 57.11. She won her state titles in the same events last year as a sophomore.

Churchill won the 100 breast in 1:08.90, the same as her state title in 2014.

“There is a little pressure,” she said of the defending champion role, “but I love high school swimming. I just try to win one race at a time for the team.”

DeSelm also took home a conference gold medal in the 200 medley relay along with Annabelle Durham, Sarah Taekman and Paige Jones.

Durham and Jones were among members with DeSelm in last year’s 200 medley relay state title.

Individually at this year’s conference meet, Jones won the 50 free in 25.73 and was second in the 100 free in 56.17. Other girls’ conference champions were Cardinal Gibbons’ Sammy Stone in the 100 free, 54.85, and Haley Allen in the 110 back, 1:00.99;

Boys: Cairns sets two individual records

Cardinal Gibbons’ Noah Cairns, a senior committed to North Carolina, set school records in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. He won the 200 IM in 1:54.27 econds and the 100 breast in 59.00.

“I compete in the events where my coaches need me, so it feels good to set records,” Cairns said. “I felt good with my swims.”

Cairns’ state titles a year ago as the 3A MVP were in the 200 free and the 500 free

Among members of a relay state title teams to claim an individual conference championship this year was Chapel Hill’s Jake Pudik. He swept the 50 free in 22.28 and the 100 free in 48.67 and hopes the dropped times in the events lead to a 2015 individual state title.

“It’s definitely a goal as a senior,” Pudik said. “Last year I swam well in the prelims but not as well in the finals.”

Other boys’ conference champions were Chapel Hill’s Patrick O’Donnell, 100 butterfly, 53.81; Cardinal Gibbons’ Cothalee Watko, 500 free, 4:53.212; Cardinal Gibbons’ Christopher Raymond in the 100 back in 54.96.

Northwood’s Josh Conger won the 200 free in 1:48.66 and was the runner-up in the 500 free in 4:53.12.