CARY The swimming teams of Cardinal Gibbons and Chapel Hill couldn’t help but engage in a little back-and-forth minutes before the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A East regional swim meet Tuesday.
“That was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing,” said Chapel Hill senior Evan Rose. “We saw them over there, they saw us, and we just had a little fun competition.”
After they finished trading chants like Cardinal Gibbons’ “Two, four, six, eight: we’ve got more than you can take” and Chapel Hill’s “We won conference” across Triangle Aquatic Center’s main pool, they took their rivalry to the water.
That’s where Chapel Hill’s volume of talented swimmers proved to be even better than the volume of both teams’ cheers.
The Tigers boys topped Cardinal Gibbons 509 to 457 to stop the Crusaders’ streak of regional titles, and the Chapel Hill girls had a bit easier time holding off Cardinal Gibbons 516.5 to 410.
The schools have combined to win 10 NCHSAA swimming titles since 2006, led by Cardinal Gibbons’ boys’ current streak of six straight. They have been conference foes for the past five years.
“Our relationship with Gibbons is definitely an interesting one. Before the meet, we don’t like talking to them. We’re very harsh to each other. But afterwards it’s all hugs and love,” said Chapel Hill senior Anabelle Durham.
Corinth Holders was third in both regionals (171 points in girls, 220 in boys), and the girls of Northwood (168) and Cedar Ridge (166) completed an all-Triangle top five. Cleveland’s boys were eighth (72).
Tigers boys cherish regional
Cardinal Gibbons’ 200 medley relay team opened the meet with a win, but it was later disqualified, which led to a 42-point swing. The Crusaders lost 40 points and Chapel Hill picked up two as it slid from third to second in the event.
But the Tigers wound up not needing help.
Chapel Hill’s Christopher Eron took the 50 free (22.09 seconds) and then was out-touched by teammate Jake Pudik (49.16) by one-hundredth of a second in the 100 freestyle.
Rose won the 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 4.39 seconds) to round out the Tigers’ individual winners.
“Since I got here, all I can remember is – we’re going to play Gibbons, we’re going to lose. Gibbons won conference, Gibbons won regionals, Gibbons won states,” said Rose. “It’s a really great feeling to know it’s our turn now.”
The Tigers’ relays sealed the win.
Chapel Hill’s Josh Taekman, Emery Harwell, Eron and Pudik took the 200 freestyle relay (1:30.77) and the same four also won the 400 freestyle relay (3:21.36).
Cardinal Gibbons was led by Noah Cairns, who took the 200 freestyle (1:46.31) and 500 freestyle (4:37.68).
Corinth Holders’ Connor Blandford also had two individual wins – the 200 individual medley (1:58.21) and 100 backstroke (53.97).
He also was one-fourth of a relay (including Chris Carter, Bryce Sherrill and Neal Quinn) that was retroactively awarded the top spot (1:45.50) after Cardinal Gibbons’ disqualification.
“It was a surprise (to be third), but we worked hard and expected to do well. I’m happy for how good our relays did,” Blandford said. “It was a pretty good meet for us.”
The only winners from outside the Triangle were West Carteret’s Patrick Edge in the 100 butterfly (54.29) and Devin Hall from Pikeville’s C.B. Aycock, who won the diving competition Monday.
Dykstra, Carter, DeSelm win twice
Double-winners were the theme of the day on the girls’ side.
Cardinal Gibbons’ Emily Dykstra took the 200 freestyle (1:54.73) and 500 free (5:04.70).
Chapel Hill’s Claire DeSelm won the 200 IM (2:06.93) and 100 butterfly (56.80).
Corinth Holders’ Michaela Carter won the 50 free (24.82) by eight one-hundreths of a second and 100 freestyle (54.12).
Chapel Hill took five events total, including Durham in the 100 backstroke (59.43). The Tigers also laid claim to the 200 medley relay (1:52.51) thanks to Kaitlin Jones, Paige Jones, Durham and DeSelm. They capped the day with a win by the 400 freestyle relay (3:42.23) team of DeSelm, Durham, Uma Knaen and Jaylyn Forrest.
“We carried that energy into today, which is why we got two first places,” DeSelm said. “My teammates are the absolute best.”
With Charlotte Catholic – who has won the girls’ state title the past 12 seasons – now in 4A, the Tigers can dream big for Saturday’s state championships.
“The big powerhouse is out of 3A, so we’re hoping this proves we can take it all the way and win states this weekend,” Durham said.
Cardinal Gibbons’ quartet of Sammy Stone, Haley Allen, Sophia Lindem and Dykstra won the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.44).
Cedar Ridge’s Becca Churchill won 100 breaststroke (1:07.73).
Northwood’s Bailey Revels, the reigning 1A/2A diving champ, easily won the diving competition Monday – the other two opponents were disqualified.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps