High school swimmers took to the pool on Wednesday night at UNCW’s Natatorium as the New Hanover County Championships were decided between the four Wilmington schools.
While the Hoggard boys continued the program’s success with a dominant victory, tallying 132 points to a distant Ashley with 63, it was the New Hanover girls who stole the limelight following a huge win for the Wildcats in a sport that has been controlled by Vikings on Shipyard Boulevard.
New Hanover took first place in nine of 11 events scored as seniors Helen Duffy and Rihanne Hsu led the way, while junior Aleta Jewell grabbed a pair of individual wins in the 200 yard individual medley and 500 yard freestyle.
“Last night was fun to watch,” said New Hanover girls first-year swim coach Kaitlyn Lohr. “To be a part of the first time a team has been able to break the Hoggard streak feels great. This team is so special because of how much they all are willing to put in the individual efforts, but also understand that they are a part of an entire team and support each other.”
Charlotte Jones also contributed with a strong performance in the 50 yard freestyle and as lead leg in the 200 yard medley relay. The Wildcats captured all three relays, with Duffy, Jewell and freshman Kate Pottle assisting in the 200 yard medley.
Pottle also placed second in the 50 yard freestyle and 100 yard freestyle. Duffy edged Ashley’s Syndey Westra by a little more than two seconds in the 100 yard butterfly and Hsu took top spot in the 100 yard freestyle and 200 yard freestyle.
Freshman Lucy Gittings rounded out the effort for the Wildcats by swimming in the 200 yard freestyle relay and 400 yard freestyle relay.
“Swimming isn’t the most exciting sport to the untrained eye,” Lohr added. “It takes passion to push yourself in a sport where you stare at a black line for hours. These girls have so much drive and commitment. Our seniors Paige Pottle, Helen Duffy, and Rhianne Hsu are great examples of that. Although I only got to work with them for a year, this team of girls is special. I am lucky to get to work with this group before they go on and accomplish even more.”
The Hoggard boys flexed a well-balanced lineup with victories in 10 of 11 events. Seniors Thomas Heffron and Cole Beck helped get the team off to a strong start by swimming one leg in the 200 yard medley relay along with Kellen Hanson and Adam Coleman.
Heffron also claimed first-place in 100 yard back stroke, while Hanson took top honors in the 100 yard breaststroke. Six different Hoggard swimmers grabbed wins in individual races, including freshman Howard Finn (200 free), Cole Beck (100 butterfly), Carter Howe (100 freestyle), Christopher Zack (500 freestyle).
With a second place team finish, the Hoggard girls were able to secure the combined title alongside the boys, with a 210.5-164 victory against New Hanover.
At Brunswick Community College, the Topsail girls edged South Brunswick 112-110 in a 3A Mideastern Conference competition, but South Brunswick took the combined win following a big effort by the Cougars in the boys meet.
The South Brunswick boys claimed all three relay races, while senior Tyler Bowersox picked up the top spot in the 100 yard backstroke and 200 yard individual medley. Chris Anselmo won the 100 yard butterfly and 100 yard breaststroke, while freshman Owen Bell took the 100 yard freestyle. The Cougars claimed first place in nine of 11 events.
In the girls meet, Scout Pennington, MacKenna McCullen, Delaney Popella and Drew Marshall helped Topsail claim the win following a first-place finish in the 400 yard freestyle relay. South Brunswick claimed the 200 yard medley relay and 200 yard freestyle relay before the Pirates rallied in the final event of the night.
Pennington also grabbed individual honors in the 200 yard freestyle, while Popella took the 50 yard freestyle. Marshall had a pair of wins in the 100 yard freestyle and 100 yard backstroke.