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By Sophia Chiang, Swimming World College Intern
William A. Hough high school’s women’s and men’s teams made history on Thursday night at North Carolina’s 4A State Swimming Championships at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, North Carolina, grabbing the combined team high score at 629 points. The Huskies finished 138 points ahead of the second place overall team, South Mecklenberg high school, who finished at 491 points. Green Point would take third in 381 points.
The Huskies led the way from the first to the final events at Thursday night finals, the women sweeping the 200 yard medley relay in 1:43.21, nearly three seconds ahead of second place finisher Green Hope (1:46.07). While the men of Hough fell to South Mecklenburg’s men (1:32.71 to 1:32.58) in their 200 yard medley relay, they fought for the finish and locked in those key points that would keep Hough ahead of the competition all night.
That would translate nicely into the start of the individual events for Hough, where top prelim seed and defending champion Erika Brown would win the 200 yard freestyle in a blistering 1:48.05. Watch out for her as this Tennessee commit will be looking to do big things at NCAA’s next year. Samantha Medlin of Green Hope (1:50.02) out touched Amelia Gilchrist of Grimsley (1:50.07) at the finish, grabbing those key points for team Green Hope.
On the men’s side, Reagan’s Levente Bathory (1:40.49) fought for a tight finish ahead of Hough’s Coleman Manchester (1:40.69), continuing to keep the meet interesting.
In the women’s 200 yard individual medley, Julia Poole of Middle Creek (1:59.76) grabbed victory with Hough’s Jessica Merritt (1:59.95) and Margaret Higgs (2:02.48) right on her tail. For the men, Will Chan (1:49.86) took home gold for Hough nearly three seconds ahead of second-place finisher Zach Brown (1:52.10) of Athens Drive.
Brown once again fought for a first place in the 50 yard freestyle (22.84), but took second after a tight finish to Leesville Road’s Grace Countie (22.75). Bathory, too, fought South Mecklenburg’s Graham Weaver for first but fell (21.08 to 20.76). These finishes would keep the top three teams holding on going into the final half of the meet. Hough lead with 221 combined points, with South Mecklenberg in second at 117, and Green Point third in 134 points.
Julia Menkaus (54.12) took first for Charlotte Catholic in the 100 yard butterfly, followed by Carolyn Kammeyer (55.01) of Ardrey Kell and Charlotte Hylinski (55.23) of Myers Park. Menkaus, only a sophomore, has a lot of potential for growth and is definitely a key athlete to watch at future 4A championships. For the men, Zach Brown (49.14) of Athens Drive fought for first in the 100 yard butterfly, out touching Page’s Clay Hering (49.72). They were followed by South Mecklenberg’s Noah Cahan (49.92).
Hough’s Merritt pulled a win in the 100 yard freestyle next in 50.18, 0.04 seconds slower than her prelim swim of 50.14, but strong enough for a full second plus lead ahead of second place NW Guildford’s swimmer Laurel Kiselis (51.22). Merritt will go on to swim for Auburn University in the fall of 2017, while Kiselis is set for Cornell University this fall. Broughton’s Jack Messenger set the tone for the men’s 100 yard freestyle in a blazing 45.45, out touching South Mecklenburg’s Weaver (45.57). Grimsley’s Graham Hertweck took third in 46.28.
Apex’s Ana Pozer blazed the women’s 500 yard freestyle in 4:50.66, taking West Forsyth’s Morgan Tacik (4:52.84) at the finish. Middle Creek’s Sarah Giambler (4:53.29) was a close third. For the men, South Mecklenberg’s Nathan Murray won in 4:30.82, beating North Mecklenberg’s Avery Gambol (4:33.22).
The Huskies were once again victorious in the 200 yard freestyle relay, out touching second place Leesville Road 1:35.79 to 1:35.90. The men’s 200 yard freestyle relay was not as much of a nail biter, with South Mecklenburg’s men staying ahead of the pack at 1:24.89, beating out Athens Drive (1:26.08).
Menkhaus racked up her second state title in the 100 yard backstroke next, out touching Green Hope’s Katie Moore 53.84 to 53.99. A similar tight finish was also seen on the men’s side, with Athens Drive’s Tyler Silver (49.49) taking out Leesville Road’s Will Countie (49.78) in a very tight touch.
Tight finishes seemed to be the norm, with the women’s 100 yard breaststroke being similarly close, with Middle Creek’s Julia Poole (1:02.62) grappling for the win with Hough’s Margaret Hicks (1:02.89). Although the men were not so close, the finishes were relatively near as well, with Hough’s Chan coming out for two state titles as well in 55.21. He out touched Reagan’s Paul Neil (56.47) and Middle Creek’s Jordan Mintz (57.11).
Going into the final event, the 400 yard freestyle relay, the Hough team was reasonably confident of a combined overall win. They just needed to wrap it up, as a first place relay finish is worth a precious 40 points. And wrap it up they did. Hough’s crack women’s relay consisting of Brown, Heidi Lowe, Megan Dupay, and Merritt blazed to a first place finish in 3:23.49, two seconds ahead of Green Hope’s (3:25.89). This set the tone for the Hough men, who did the same. Hernan Gonzales, Manchester, Connor McCourt, and Chan went 3:07.97 to beat South Mecklenburg’s men, who finished second in 3:08.49.
That’s a wrap for the 4A NCHSAA State Championships, but there will be more results to follow over this coming weekend as the 1A/2A and 3A NCHSAA State Championships go off at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary, North Carolina. You can view the results from the 4A State Championships here.