Raleigh Charter’s girls routinely wrapped up their fifth straight N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A/2A swimming state title, but it was anything but a comfortable finish for the Carrboro boys to claim a state co-championship.
The Jaguars won the 400-yard freestyle relay in the final event before a full house in the balcony grandstands Friday night at the Triangle Aquatic Center. But Carrboro also needed Shelby to finish no better than fifth in order to make up a 12-point deficit.
“We’ve done the math,” said Carrboro junior Will MacMillan as he and senior Thomas Bilden studied the scoreboard.
The Carrboro team of junior Simon Deshusses, senior Justin Laatz, Bilden and MacMillan did their part with a winning margin of more than two seconds. The math meant 40 team points for Carrboro and a total of 249 to match Shelby’s 12 points for fifth and a 249. It’s Carrboro’s first state title since 2012.
“They knew the pressure of the meet coming down to the 400 relay,” Carrboro boys and girls coach Julie Neal said. “I’m super proud of them.”
Boys: MacMillan and Bilden win four
MacMillan and North Carolina-bound Bilden both won two individual events in addition to legs on two winning relay teams.
They opened the meet with Deshusses and Connor Murphy to win the 200 medley relay. MacMillan followed with wins in the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 38.85 seconds and 45.59 in the 100 free. Bilden won the 100 butterfly (49.92) and 500 free (4:43.92).
In a strategic move, MacMillan didn’t defend his state title in the 200 individual medley that he won in a state record of 1:52.53 last year. The Jaguars were confident Deshusses could score high team points in the event and the move paid off. He was second in both the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke in addition to his two relay legs.
MacMillan ended up with a state record anyway. His 1:38.85 in the 200 freestyle bettered the three-year-old 1A/2A state record of 1:40.96.
Bilden’s win in the 100 butterfly was his third straight, but the most rewarding against tougher competition.
“I had two guys who were real close to me this year,” he said. “I saw (Goldsboro’s Zach Darden) was ahead of me at the final turn and knew I had to finish strong underwater.”
In other boys events, Raleigh Charter senior Zach Lewis won his first career state title in the 50 free (21.50).
“It feels fantastic,” he said. “I owe it all to my coaches and my teammates. This is my senior year and I knew I had to step up to win it. I had to lay it on the line, win or not.”
Girls: Ontjes breaks own state record
Raleigh Charter senior Olivia Ontjes won her third straight 100 breaststroke and established a state record for the second year in a row. The University of Southern California-bound Ontjes won in 1:02.64 to better last year’s record of 1:02.73, but all she wanted to talk about was the state team title.
“We’ve won five straight years and we never lost in my four years here,” she said. “That’s a cool thing to say.”
The Phoenix won primarily with depth as they piled up a 62-point winning margin with a 284 total despite Ontjes’ gold medal the only individual event victory.
Raleigh Charter’s other two wins came in relays. The 200 medley relay foursome was sophomore Lily Whalen, freshman Sydney Parson, senior Tara Martin and senior Sandy Lackmann. The 200 free relay teammates were Martin, senior Paige Whalen, Lily Whalen and Ontjes.