The N.C. High School Athletic Association will crown new state champions in swimming and indoor track this weekend. The swimming championships are held at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, with 3A on Thursday, 1A/2A on Friday and 4A on Saturday. Indoor track’s championships are Friday (1A/2A) and Saturday (3A and 4A) at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.
Teams to watch
Swimming: Green Hope’s boys and Leesville Road’s girls have good chances to bring home 4A titles, but don’t rule out the Cardinal Gibbons boys and girls, Athens Drive boys, Panther Creek boys, Enloe girls and Apex girls. Their main competition will be the Charlotte-area schools: Ardrey Kell, Providence and South Mecklenburg boys and the Myers Park, South Mecklenburg and Hough girls.
In 3A, Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill and D.H. Conley figure to finish well, and will also have to compete with Charlotte-area powerhouses Marvin Ridge, Charlotte Catholic and Weddington.
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N.C. Science and Math, Raleigh Charter Carrboro have the best chances of local 1A/2A teams, but Lake Norman Charter, Lincoln Charter and Pine Lake Prep are the favorites.
Indoor track: Green Hope’s boys have the distance runners to contend for a 4A title but could be challenged by Cary and Garner. Southeast Raleigh’s girls will try to unseat defending champ High Point Central, as will Leesville Road. Apex, Millbrook and Panther Creek could rank high, too.
In 3A, Hillside and Chapel Hill will be in the mix, as will Nash Central in 1A/2A.
Individuals to watch
Swimming: Leading the returning state champions is Leesville Road’s Grace Countie, who broke the girls’ state record in the 4A 50-yard free last season and won the 100 free as well. Countie, a North Carolina recruit, is a three-time All-Metro selection. Apex’s Ana Pozder (4A) and Raleigh Charter’s (1A/2A) Sydney Willis, who each made the All-Metro team last year, are defending titles in the 500 free, while Sanderson’s Kenna Haney will do so in the 4A 200 free. Diver Claire McDaniels of Carrboro broke the 1A/2A state record last year as a freshman.
Chapel Hill’s Jordan Ren, a defending champ in the 3A 200 IM, and Athens Drive’s Zach Brown, who won the 4A 200 IM and 100 butterfly are two-time All-Metro picks in boys swimming. Chapel Hill’s Thomas Bretzmann will attempt to defend his title in the 3A 500 free.
Others to watch include: (Boys) Millbrook’s Davis Payne and Joshua Legge, Athens Drive’s David Whalen, Middle Creek’s Kevin Plewniak, Wakefield’s Taye Brown, Orange’s Ben Scott, Northern Durham’s Thomas Pritchard, East Chapel Hill’s Raymond Dai and Connor Sept; (Girls) Apex’s Mikaela Fullerton, Leesville Road’s Ashley McCauley, Amanda Ray and diver Ashton Zuburg, Apex Friendship’s Brooke Zettel, East Chapel Hill diver Alyssa Wang, D.H. Conley’s Svea Torres and Morgan Despres, Clayton’s Reagan Martin, Carrboro’s Anneliese Merry and Raleigh Charter’s Sydney Parsons.
Indoor track: There could be a number of area 4A champions. Wakefield’s Veronica Fraley (shot put), Apex’s Cara King (wheelchair events), Panther Creek’s Morgan Smalls (jumps), Leesville Road’s Timara Chapman (hurdles), Southeast Raleigh’s Kyna Robinson (middle distance) and Pinecrest’s Carmen Alder (distance) are among the state’s best girl athletes. On the boys’ side, Garner’s Randolph Ross and Rondell Terry, Green Hope’s Ian Delgado, Sean Petersen and Peyton Barish (distance) and Cary’s Anton Idhammar, Kayin Falls and Brian Steverson (middle distance) could all be on the podium.
After doing well in 4A last year, Hillside’s defending champion Kayla Beasley (shot put) and J.H. Rose sprinter Jordan Sales will be among the top 3A girls competitors. Hillside is bolstered with sprinters Alysia Johnson and Jessica Wright. Chapel Hill has Dylan Blankenship (jumps) and Jacob Hickerson (pole vault) on the boys’ side.
Western Harnett’s Asher Price (shot put), Orange’s Jamar Davis (jumps), Harnett Central’s Laderique McNeill (distance) and Southern Durham’s Khaleb McRae and Dominick Green (sprints) could medal on the boys’ side, as could C.B. Aycock’s Arlanda Faulkner (hurdles) and Southern Durham’s Kelis Hicks (jumps) on the girls’ side.
In 1A/2A, Farmville Central thrower Keiziah Everett could medal as could Beddingfield sprinters Marcus Parker and Aaron Bland (hurdles/jumps), Nash Central’s Quante Downey (pole vault) and Byron Hawkins (hurdles) and Kinston’s Nathaniel Harper-Harris and Jimere Summers (sprints).