For the third year in a row, the Corinth Holders boys and girls swim teams swept the Two Rivers 3A Conference Championships at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center and once again, they did it with ease.
For all three years of the Two Rivers’ existence, the Pirates have won each and every meet in both the boys and girls competitions including the conference championships. This year, Callie Blandford, Stephanie Grandin and Peyton Whitaker were awarded co-swimmers of the year for the girls competition while fellow Pirates Connor Blandford and Ryan Partrick received the same honor for the boys.
Overall, it was a satisfying performance for Corinth Holders as a large number of swimmers cut time and contributed to the championships.
“Some of my swimmers who didn’t think they would do a whole lot, did a great job dropping time,” said Corinth Holders coach Maureen Blandford. “That’s the one thing I love this time of year: to see the reaction on their face and the excitement on their face when they look at that board and say, ’I didn’t know I could go that fast.’”
The girls team, comprised largely of underclassmen, dominated by winning each and every event and amassing 403 points. Cleveland came in second place with 261 points while Smithfield-Selma’s 188-point total was good for a third place finish.
In the boys competition, Connor Blandford and Partrick led the way with a pair of individual titles each as Corinth Holders totaled 377 points, almost a hundred clear of Cleveland (279). South Johnston placed third with 217 points.
The future looks very bright for the Corinth Holders girls team and that future may be here sooner than expected.
Freshman Callie Blandford won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:03.61 and also took home the 500 free title (5:47.58). Fellow freshman Peyton Whitaker won the 50 and 200 free while Stephanie Grandin also came out victorious in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:12.03) and 200 individual medley (2:15.63).
The Pirates’ Rachel Strickland proved to be the fastest in the 100 backstroke as she posted a winning time of 59.98 seconds while teammate Paige Bauer won the 100 freestyle event in 59.68 seconds.
“We have five freshmen that contributed big time this year,” Corinth Holders coach Maureen Blandford said. “They’re all fantastic swimmers; I just can’t wait to see what the future holds for the girls team.”
Corinth Holders also claimed all the relay titles.
Cleveland’s Kaylee Davis finished second in the 100 breaststroke (1:18.31) and third in the 50 free. The Rams’ Amanda Smith placed third in the 500 free, Amber Parrish did the same in the 100 free and Veronica Yuziuk’s time of 2:30.24 was also good enough for a third place result in the 200 free.
For Smithfield-Selma, Kara Harrison’s 1:16.63 mark gave her third place in the 100 butterfly. Harrison also teamed up with Emma Creech, Jennifer Garcia-Ortega and Lara Mehrems to finished third in the 200-medley relay.
Despite impressive performances from both Cleveland and South Johnston, the veteran Corinth Holders boys swim team proved too much en route to their latest conference championship.
In one of the night’s best events, Ryan Partrick held off the Rams’ Dalton Langston to win the 200-yard freestyle in 1:54.19. Partrick also took first place in the 500 free.
Connor Blandford cruised to the 200 IM and 100 backstroke titles in with times of 1:54.89 and 52.88, respectively.
Chris Carter won the 100 free in 53.10 seconds and Eric Svadeba was the first to the wall in the 100 breaststroke for the Pirates. Blandford, Carter, Christian Lower, and Bryce Sherrill set the pace in the 200-medley relay (1:46.05) while Blandford, Carter, Partrick and Svadeba capped off the night winning the 400 free relay in 3:27.03.
For Cleveland, Dalton Langston won the 100 fly in 56.03 seconds, while his brother Mitchell placed second in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. The pair combined with Zach Mefford and Jeff Salhoff to claim victory in the 200 freestyle relay (1:35.70) but had to settle for runners-up in the 400 free relay.
“The boys team has done really well this year,” said Cleveland coach Amy Pierce-Reas. “We’re starting to get the depth so we have more placing because we have more swimmers.
“Overall, we have a very young team and I’ve been very impressed with their growth over the season and hopefully we get several going to regionals.”
The strong boys contingent from South Johnston ended the competition in third place with Zachary Bridges leading the way. Bridges blazed to the 50 free title in the night’s best finish as the senior clipped the Pirates’ Christian Lower by .03 of a second.
Bridges also turned in impressive anchor legs in all three relays leading to the Trojans’ second-place finish in the 200-medley relay and third place results in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
David Norris put up a solid time in the 500 free (5:52.62) to earn second place in that event.
“They have improved every year,” South Johnston coach Cori Walker said. “The evolution of their swimming is amazing. They couldn’t really swim well when they started so this is all just pure work ethic on their part.”
Two Rivers 3A Conference Swimming Championships
Girls: Corinth Holders 403, Cleveland 261, Smithfield-Selma 188, South Johnston 153, Western Harnett 127, Triton 100
Boys: Corinth Holders 377, Cleveland 279, South Johnston 217, Smithfield-Selma 181, Triton 86, Western Harnett 76