High School State Championships: North Carolina 4A

CARY, North Carolina, February 9. THIRTEEN turned out to be a lucky number for the Charlotte Catholic girls squad. At the North Carolina 4A High School Swimming and Diving Championships Feb. 7 at the Triangle Aquatic Center, the Lady Cougars grabbed their 13th consecutive team title—but just their first in 4A competition. They had previously won the past eight Division 3A titles and, before that, four in Division 2A. The Green Hope boys squad repeated as champions.

Charlotte Catholic swimmers combined for 360.5 points. W.A. Hough, who were going for their third straight title, settled for second with 308.5. Green Hope took third (239.5), followed by Apex (157.5) and Grimsley (130).

The Lady Cougars were led by Most Outstanding Swimmer Nora McCullagh. The junior set state records in both the 50 free (22.88) and 100 back (53.59). Charlotte Catholic senior Elsa Welshofer—who is headed to Princeton—tied with W.A. Hough senior Heather Merritt for first in the 100 fly (54.47). Merritt will be going to South Carolina in the fall. Welshofer’s classmate, Nicole Emery, posted a winning 2:01.42 in the 200 IM. Charlotte Catholic also swept the freestyle relays with state record-setting times of 1:33.22 in the 200 free relay and 3:22.15 in the 400 free relay.

The Lady Huskies of W.A. Hough set three state marks of their own. Junior Emily Allen cruised to a 49.68 in the 100 free. Sophomore Jessica Merritt’s 1:47.37 gave her the state record in the 200 free; she became a double-event champion with her 1:03.44 in the 100 breast. The team started off the meet with a state record-setting 1:43.41 in the 200 medley relay. Jennifer Giacalone and Jocelyn Porter, both freshmen, went 1-2 in the diving event with scores of 414.10 and 403.65, respectively.

Green Hope senior Hannah Moore lowered the 500 free state record to 4:40.98. This coming fall, Heather will be swimming at Michigan.

Green Hope’s 248 points gave them the state title for the second straight year. Following the Falcons were J.H. Rose (203.5), East Chapel Hill (178), W.A. Hough (154) and South Mecklenburg (131).

This year’s Most Outstanding Swimmer award was presented to Holly Springs’ Colin Ellington. Headed for North Carolina State in the fall, Colin swept the sprint freestyle events with a state record-setting 44.86 in the 100 free and 20.76 in the 50 free. East Chapel Hill senior Koya Osada also earned two championships in both the 200 IM (1:48.52) and 100 back (49.10). Osada will be attending Harvard next year.

Two J.H. Rose seniors finished 1-2 in the 200 free by just 1-hundredth. Eylan Eagle’s 1:39.37 put him a fingernail’s length ahead of Philip Perdue’s 1:39.38. Both swimmers will be going to North Carolina colleges after graduation—Eagle to East Carolina, Perdue to North Carolina.

Justin Ress, a Cary junior, captured the 500 free in 4:32.69. Leesville Road senior Sean Yeh topped the field in the 100 breast (55.56), and J.M. Robinson senior Tyler Gomez’ 49.85 gave him first place in the 100 fly (49.85).

Connor Callahan, a sophomore at Panther Creek, dueled Charles Mitchell, a W.A. Hough senior, in the diving competition to a 481.70-481.00 finish.
East Chapel Hill’s 200 medley finished first in 1:34.55. J.H. Rose set state records in both freestyle relays (200 free, 1:23.66; 400 free, 3:04.91).

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