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By Kevin Donnelly, Swimming World College Intern.
North Carolina high school state championship meets are set to take place over the weekend in Cary. The 4A meet is set to take place on Saturday, February 10th. In 2017, the W.A. Hough women won a close meet against over Leesville Road, while the South Mecklenburg men were victorious.
Leesville Road looks set to challenge once again for the team title. Leesville is lead by North Carolina commit Grace Countie, who won both the 50 free and 100 free in 2017 and returns as the top seed in both events. They also return sophomore Amanda Ray, who placed third in the 100 fly last season and currently holds the top seed by a half-second. Junior Ashley McCauley, also swimming for Leesville Road, placed fourth in the 200 IM and third in the 100 breast in 2017. McCauley currently sits as the third seed in the 200 IM and the fourth seed in the 100 breast, and will challenge for the top spot in both with her best times.
Leesville Road also won both the 200 medley and 200 free relays in 2017. They are currently seeded fourth and third in those events, respectively, as well as third in the 400 free relay.
Junior Kenna Haney, swimming for Sanderson, ran away with the women’s 200 free last season by well over a second, finishing with a 1:47.29. Haney returns as the top seed in 2018 as the only woman under 1:50 to this point. She will be paced by Apex senior and Mizzou commit Ana Pozder, who enters as the second seed in the 200. The two ladies flip roles in the 500 free, with Pozder holding the top spot as the reigning champ and Haney chasing her as the second seed.
Hough also looks to challenge for the team title again. Hough senior and UNC commit Lilly Higgs took second in the 100 breast last season and will challenge for the title as a senior, as she enters as the top seed. Higgs is also the fifth seed in the 200 IM, in which she placed third in 2017. Hough also returns another UNC commit in Heidi Lowe. Lowe sits as the seventh seed in both the 100 and 200 free, events she placed second in in 2017.
South Mecklenburg senior and Tennessee commit Sinclair Larson holds the top spot in the 100 back, as well as the second seed in the 200 IM. Larson finished fourth in the 100 back and fifth in the 200 IM last year. Apex Friendship freshman Brooke Zettel is the top seed in the 200 IM with a 2:01.66 to Larson’s 2:03.18.
Myers Park, led by junior Janie Smith and sophomore Liza Whitmire, holds the top seeds in both the 200 medley and 200 free relays. South Mecklenburg has the top spot in the 400 free relay.
Last season, Reagan’s Max Edwards took fourth in both the 100 fly and 100 back. This year, the junior returns for Reagan as the top seed in both the 50 free and 100 fly. Edwards is the only person to break the 21-second barrier in the 50 free at the 4A level this season, with a 20.95, but he will be challenged in that event by Grimsley senior and William & Mary commit Graham Hertweck, who placed fourth in the 50 free in 2017. Hertweck sits second with a 21.34, but has been as fast as 20.67 in his life.
In the 100 fly, Edwards will be challenged by future NC State Wolfpack swimmer Zach Brown, who competes for Athens Drive at the high school level. Brown won both the 200 IM and the 100 fly last season for Athens Drive and currently sits as the second seed in both events, although his best times in both events suggest he has a lot more time to drop. Providence senior Teddy Perelli holds the top seed in the 200 IM, an event he was disqualified in at the 2017 meet in the A final. Perelli is verbally committed to swim for Penn State in the fall.
The 500 free looks to be a good battle between three swimmers all seeded under 4:40. Senior Avery Gambill of North Mecklenburg, a UNC-Wilmington commit, and senior Josh Legge of Millbrook, a George Washington commit, enter as the top two seeds. Gambill took fourth in the event in 2017 and is seeded first in 2018 with a 4:35.22. Legge placed fifth in 2017, just three tenths behind Gambill, and enters as the second seed this year with a 4:37.88. They are followed by Olympic junior Jamison Rzepecki, who is seeded with a 4:39.23 but has the fastest best time, at 4:30.08. Rzepecki placed sixth in 2017, about a second behind Legge.
Gambill also enters as the second seed in the 200 free, just two-tenths behind Grimsley senior Pietro Nannucci. Nannucci took 16th in the event in 2017. Reigning champion Jack Walker of Myers Park, the only man to break the 1:40 barrier in 2017, is the fifth seed, behind teammate Hugh Svendsen and Millbrook’s Davis Payne, an LSU commit.
Another close race looks set to occur in the men’s 100 free. West Forsyth senior Tucker Burhans, who committed to UNC in September, enters tied for the first seed with Green Hope junior Michael Ivy, both at a 46.41. Burhans notably placed third in the event in 2017, behind current UNC swimmer Jack Messenger and current Harvard swimmer Levente Bathory. Interestingly, Ivy is not entered in any other individual event for Green Hope and instead looks to compete on all three relays. Green Hope is seeded first in the 200 medley relay, second in the 200 free relay, and third in the 400 free relay.
The men’s 100 back looks set to be a really great race, with the top seven swimmers all seeded within a second of each other. Junior David Wahle of Athens Drive enters as the top seed, less than a tenth ahead of Burhans. Green Hope’s John Healy, an NC State commit, was the runner-up in 2017 and enters as the sixth seed in 2018.
In the 100 breast, 2017’s 20th-place finisher Reid Mikuta of Page enters as the top seed at a 57.48, over three seconds faster than his time from last season. The top five seeds in the event all sit within a second of each other. Hopewell’s Markus Wennborg is seeded just behind Mikuta with a 57.63, followed by Nick Greene of New Bern at a 58.07. Third-place finisher Jacob Rauch of South Mecklenburg, a future UNC Tar Heel, enters with the fourth seed of 58.33, just ahead of Sanderson junior Sammy Lucht, at 58.34.
Grimsley enters with the top seed in the 200 free relay, while Ardrey Kell, led by junior Josh Fletcher, holds the top seed in the 400 free relay.
Full psych sheet available here.