High School Sports

Grace Christian wins its first NCISAA 1A/2A swimming championship

The Grace Christian Raleigh Eagles pose with the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A/2A boys swimming championship trophy after edging Christ the King 240.5-238 in the NCISAA championships on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.
The Grace Christian Raleigh Eagles pose with the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A/2A boys swimming championship trophy after edging Christ the King 240.5-238 in the NCISAA championships on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. mblake@newsobserver.com

“Shock the world!” yelled a Grace Christian Raleigh swimmer after the boys were announced as champions of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A/2A championships on Monday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

At minimum, the Eagles shocked themselves.

Even coach Nancy Potok said she was surprised.

The first championship in program history came with no individual or relay golds. Grace won with its depth – 240.5 to 238 over Christ the King. Grace was second in all three relays. Its best individual finish was senior Christian Lauffer taking second in the 100 breaststroke.

“They placed all over,” Potok said. “Last year we were runners-up, before that we were down eighth or ninth. We feel very blessed.”

BOYS

Cary Christian’s C.J. Van Vooren was part of three golds: winning the 200 free (1:45.13), 100 free (48.13) and the 200 free relay (1:30.64). Along with Ryan and Brandon Koluch and Brian Hollis, the Knights broke the 1A/2A state record. Hollis was third in the 500 free.

“I’m extremely thankful to all of my coaches who have gotten me this far, and my team,” said Van Vooren, who has four NCISAA individual golds over the last three years.

St. David’s Riley Mears, a Johns Hopkins recruit, won his third straight 500 free (4:46.49) and was third in the 200 IM.

“I have a great team,” Mears said. “It’s always great to come down here ... we just swim our hearts out and it’s always fun.”

O’Neal’s Kyle McClelland won the 50 free (22.29). Falcons teammate Hans Johnson was second in the 200 free and the 200 medley relay was third.

“I worked very hard,” McClelland said. “I’ve always dreamed about being a state champion.”

More top 3: Cape Fear Christian’s Corbin Gillespie (second, 100 free); Wayne Country Day’s Zander Pittman (third, 100 breaststroke); Carolina Friends’ Duncan Charboneau (second in 50 free, third in 100 backstroke); Trinity DCH’s 200 free relay (third).

GIRLS

O’Neal junior Elizabeth Henry won the 100 backstroke (57.44) and broke a 14-year 1A/2A state record by three-hundreths of a second. She was also third in the 50 free. Teammate Hannah Burns was third in the 100 and 200 free, and the Falcons’ 200 medley relay was third.

“I’ve been chasing after such a long time, I felt so relieved to finally get it,” Henry said.

Rocky Mount Academy’s Kayla Miller, a sophomore who transferred from Rocky Mount High, won the 100 free and was second in the 50 free.

“I knew going into it there was going to be a lot of people taller and bigger than me,” Miller said. “I just had to work around it.”

St. David’s Annie Mears, Madeline Ross, Sarah Spencer Ball and Mary Jeanne Hipp won the 200 free relay (1:43.61). Mears was also second in the 100 butterfly.

Huntersville’s Christ the King easily won the girls’ title, 305-250 over Asheville’s Carolina Day.

More top 3: Grace’s Ana Johnson (third, 100 breaststroke); John Paul II’s 400 free relay (third).

More team scores: O’Neal School was third, Greenville’s John Paul II was fourth and St. David’s fifth. Rocky Mount Academy and Trinity DCH tied for sixth and Grace was 10th.

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