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Coveted spots in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A championship meet will be at stake Saturday night when swimmers from The Wilson Times readership area take to the pool in East regional action from Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.
Both Hunt High and Fike have viable contenders for qualification in various events, with the top eight swimmers in each advancing to next Thursday’s state championship meet.
Hunt, which wrapped up its second straight Big East boys championship last week, has a pair of No. 3 seeds in individual events with freshman Sanjeev Francis and sophomore Ethan Maddrey. Francis, the Big East champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, has a seed time of 1:07.87, trailing only Trevor Torres of D.H. Conley (1:02.03) and South Brunswick’s Matt Anselmo (1:02.18).
Francis plans to use the seed times as a guide and stay within striking distance of the top two seeds. But at the same time, those times are attained at different times of the year and as such, can be deceiving. In a worst-case scenario, Francis wants to be under 1:10 due to the No. 8 seed, South Brunswick’s Teddy Johnson, coming in at 1:10.73.
“You don’t know how long ago they swam that time,” Francis said after practice at the Recreation Park pool Thursday afternoon. “For me, my 1:07, I swam that about two weeks ago. So, I don’t know if I’m closer to that or I got slower or faster. I never know.”
Maddrey, who won the 200 individual medley at the Big East meet, is No. 3 at the regional with a time of 2:10.58. He trails Nicholas Falise of Northern Durham (2:02.68) and Conley’s Andrew Landry (2:07.12). Maddrey is aiming for a time of 2:06, which would put him in a silver-medal position. But at worse, holding down the No. 3 seed would assure him of a medal, his goal for the weekend. He cites his backstroke as his primary stroke. Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle makes up the 50-meter breakdown, in order.”
“If I can get up on butterfly, I know I can hold it right there on backstroke,” Maddrey said.
Both Francis and Maddrey are within the cutline, based on seed times, in the 100 freestyle (Francis) and the 100 backstroke (Maddrey). Each carry No. 6 seeds in each event, with Maddrey owning the Big East title in the 100 backstroke.
Maddrey is seeking his second trip to the state meet in the 200 IM, while also qualifying in the 500 as a freshman.
Senior Charlie Graham takes his conference championship into the regional as a No. 7 seed in the 200 freestyle. Graham participated in the state meet as a junior in the 400 freestyle relay, but has yet to make an appearance as an individual.
One Hunt swimmer currently on the outside looking in — but barely — is Hunt junior Emily Day. Day, who won the Big East in the 50 freestyle, is the No. 9 seed in both the 50 and 100. Her seed time in the 50 is 27.48, which is deadlocked with conference mate Jenna Lavely of Rocky Mount and trails the all important No. 8 spot of Cape Fear’s Madeline Shook by just six-tenths of a second at 27.42. In the 100, Day, at 1:02.11, is less than a second of Conley’s Julia Kohake at 1:01.29, the No. 8 seed.
However, Day realizes those scant difference mean nothing in the sprint of both races, particularly in the down-and-back 50. As a seasonal swimmer who began participation in her freshman year, Day puts forth the balance of her effort in the late fall and winter months.
“I don’t swim year-round,” she said. “I’ve always swam the two months we’ve been doing this, so I think I’ve worked hard enough. And hopefully, I can make that cut.”
The Warriors, who dominated boys relay events at the Big East meet, find themselves inside the top-eight times in all three relays.
Hunt, with Nick Tew, Maddrey, Zac Taylor and Dante Gaetano, is the No. 6 seed in 1:50.95. Also seeded No. 6 is Hunt’s 400 free relay team of Adam Dermer, Francis, Graham and Maddrey.
The 200 free relay team of Francis, Graham, Taylor and Tew is No. 4 at 1:37.90. South Brunswick holds the top seed time in the event at 1:32.49. However, Taylor will not be able to compete this weekend and will have to be substituted.
“We have to stack two of them with our best guys,” Hunt head coach Christel Dermer said of the relays. “Those relays, when they made those times, were with our best four guys. So two of the relays are going to be with our best four guys, and then with the other one, we’ll put a team together and see what they can do.”
Other Hunt regional participants and their seeds are Adam Dermer (19th, 200 free), Ben Tong (18th, 200 IM and 16th, 500 free), Tew (22nd, 50 free and 100 free), Graham (13th, 100 freestyle), Shane Matrejek (14th, 500 free), the 4x200 girls freestyle relay team of Rebekah Pierce, Elizabeth Reed and Sarah Michael Mercer (No. 17), Gaetano (19th, 100 breaststroke) and the 4x400 girls freestyle relay team. Pierce, Reed, Mercer and Day will also swim the 4x400.
After a disappointing 2017 showing that saw only the 4x400 freestyle relay team of Madeline Harrell, Sarah Jones, Abby Hodges and Cassie Jones qualify for the state meet along with the departed Luke Page in the 100 breaststroke, the Lady Golden Demons arrive for the 3-A East regional attempting to nail down a few more spots on the grand stage.
While seed times are far from infallible, Fike’s ability to increase its state qualifier output will largely hinge on how well it navigates both sides of the cutline.
Seven girls entries are in the top 10 of their respective events for the Lady Demons, who completed a four-year sweep of the Big East last week at the conference championship meet.
Senior Cassie Jones finds herself seeded No. 6 in the 200 IM with a time of 2:33.49 and 10th in the 100 butterfly at 1:08.81. Her butterfly time is 2.78 seconds back of No. 8 seed Anna Loynes of West Carteret.
The 400 free relay team, now all seniors, will return for one final regional run with Harrell, Hodges and the Jones sisters carrying the No. 6 seed at 4:17.40.
From there, it is truly a “will they or won’t they” proposition as it relates to moving forward.
In the 200 freestyle, Sarah Jones has the No. 7 seed at 2:12.27. Clayton freshman Lillie Martin is within striking distance in ninth at 2:13.74. Meanwhile, in the 500 free, Sarah Jones has a bit more cushion in the No. 8 spot, but not by much. Her seed time of 5:47.94 is 2.09 seconds better than Smithfield-Selma’s Sophia Torres.
Hodges, Madeline Harrell, Sarah Jones and Cassie Jones are seeded No. 8 in the 200 medley relay at 2:09.17. The quartet from Clayton clocks in at No. 9, less than a second off at 2:09.66.
In the 200 free relay, No. 9 Fike stares up into the cutline at Swansboro. The Lady Pirates are in at 1:58.54, giving Harrell, Abbey Rogers, Catherine Hill and Kaiya Patton something to aim for with their entry time of 1:59.10. The regional relay competitors may not necessarily be the same as the quartet at the conference championship meet, and as such, are subject to last-minute substitutions.
Other Fike regional entrants include Rogers (No. 16, 200 free and 500 free), Max Fogleman (No. 13, 100 breaststroke, No. 22, 200 free), the Demons’ 4x200 medley boys relay of Benjamin Woodard, Fogleman, Ryo Nakaya and Walker Gliarmis (No. 18), Morgan Voss (No. 23, girls 200 IM), Nakaya (No. 11, boys 200 IM and No. 15, 100 butterfly) , the Demons’ 4x200 free boys relay of Nakaya, John Gliarmis, Woodard and Fogleman (No. 16), Patton (No. 13, 100 backstroke), Hodges (No. 17, 100 backstroke) and Harrell (No. 12, 100 breaststroke).
OTHER AREA ENTRANTS
Southern Nash will be represented in a pair of individual events, as well as in three relays.
Individually, junior Madalyn Bardowell will take the No. 24 seed into the 200 freestyle, and the No. 20 mark into the 500. Colton Cruz, a senior, is the No. 16 seed in the boys 50 freestyle and No. 19 in the 100 free.
The Firebirds will enter relay teams in the boys 200 medley relay as the No. 23 seed and will be No. 17 in the 200 free relay. Cruz will pace the 400 free relay, taking the No. 17 seed into the event alongside Dylan Alford, Alex Terry and Alex Noland.
Charles B. Aycock will be represented by Brandon Russell as the No. 23 seed in the 50 freestyle, and the Golden Falcons will own the No. 13 seed in the boys 200 free relay.
No area swimmers made the combined 1-A/2-A meet, although Beddingfield’s Annie Greene came the closest. Greene claimed Beddingfield’s first ever swimming championships at the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference meet on Jan. 25, winning the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.