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By Kevin Donnelly, Swimming World College Intern.
February 8th marks the beginning of a weekend of high school championships in the state of North Carolina, in which six team champions will be crowned. The 3A meet will take place on Thursday, February 8th. In 2017, both the men’s and women’s teams from Marvin Ridge High School were victorious.
After a short stint in 4A competition which resulted in a third-place team finish last season, Charlotte Catholic comes to 3A with a real chance at taking the title home. The Charlotte Catholic women are led by University of Virginia commit Julia Menkhaus, who won both the 100 fly and 100 back at the 4A level last season and comfortably holds the top seeds in those events once again.
Junior Katie Corbi of Weddington won both the 50 free and 100 free last season. She currently sits as the second seed in both events. University of Arkansas commit Svea Torres, who swims for D.H. Conley, holds the top seed in the 50 by a hundredth, while junior Olwyn Bartis of Charlotte Catholic is the top seed in the 100. Bartis also holds the top spot in the 200 free, an event she placed sixth in in 2017 at the 4A level.
Junior Maddy Flickinger of Weddington joins teammate Corbi as a top seed, holding the top spot in the 200 IM. Flickinger placed second in the event last year to current North Carolina Tar Heel Caroline Hauder and looks to be the favorite to win the event. She also sits second in the 100 back, just seven tenths behind Menkhaus.
Hickory senior Anna Durak, who intends to swim for Princeton next fall, holds the top seed in the 500 free and the second seed in the 200 free. Freshman Kaylee Hamblin of Parkwood looks to be the biggest favorite of the meet, as she holds almost a three-second advantage over the field in the women’s 100 breast with her seed time of 1:02.86.
Marvin Ridge holds the fastest time in the 200 medley relay and returns the reigning 3A 100 fly champ in Ellie Vannote, while Charlotte Catholic has the fastest times in the 200 free and 400 free relays.
Last year’s 50 free and 100 fly champion, junior Noah Henderson, who recently announced his verbal commitment to the NC State Wolfpack, returns for Western Alamance, this time as the top seed in both the 100 fly and 100 back. Henderson will face tough challengers in both events, as he only holds a four-tenths advantage in the 100 fly over Marvin Ridge sophomore Boyd Poelke, and an even slimmer two-tenths margin in the 100 back over Northern Guilford sophomore Preston Forst.
As a freshman, Forst won the 200 free and placed fourth in the 100 free. He returns this year as the top seed in the 200 free, with a seed time of 1:40.44, that is already faster than what he swam last season to win the title. He and his Northern Guilford teammates also won the 200 medley relay to open the meet in 2017, and hold the top seed once again.
Forst will be challenged in the 200 free by two ACC swimming commits, in NC State Wolfpack commit and Weddington senior Curtis Wiltsey and UNC Tar Heels commit and Chapel Hill senior Thomas Bretzmann. Wiltsey and Bretzmann are both better known for their long-distance prowess, and will duel again in the 500 free later in the meet, where they hold the top two seeds.
In 2017, Orange’s Ben Scott placed seventh in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 fly. The senior returns this season as the perennial favorite in both the 50 free and 100 free, holding the top spots in both events.
Boyd Poelke will battle with Scott in the 50, as he holds the second seed by just over a tenth. Reigning 100 free champ and South Carolina commit Robbie Epler, swimming for Concord, sits second in that event, and it will take him getting back to his winning time of 46.35 to compete with Scott, as he sits almost a second behind Scott at this point.
South Iredell senior Colson Zucker, who committed to swim for Duke next fall, holds the top seeds in both the 200 IM and 100 breast by a wide margin over the field. Reigning 200 IM champ and 100 breast runner-up Jordan Ren, representing Chapel Hill, currently sits third in the 200 IM and 10th in the 100 breast. Look for him to move up and battle for the top spots with Zucker.
Marvin Ridge holds the top seeds in both the 200 free and 400 free relays, both of which are events that they won last season.
Full psych sheet available here.