CARY — Last year, Green Hope’s boys swimming team only won relays on its way to its first N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A title. This year, it repeated at the NCHSAA swimming and diving championship without winning a gold medal in any event.
There was no doubt as to why the Falcons won at the Triangle Aquatic Center on Friday night: their depth.
“The fact we can have 100 percent return from prelims to finals shows the depth we have on this team,” said Stephen Hollinshead, the only senior among the 10 Falcons who qualified for the state meet. “What really comes down to winning championships was if you get a whole team to come back. We had 14 swims tonight; everyone swam fantastic.”
The Falcons edged Greenville Rose 248 to 203.5. Cary (72) was 10th.
Green Hope’s girls were the top team from the Triangle, taking third behind two schools – champion Charlotte Catholic (360.5 points) and runner-up Cornelius Hough (308.5) – that set nine records and won 11 of 12 events.
It was Charlotte Catholic’s 13th straight title and first as a 4A member.
Green Hope (239.5) and Apex (157.5) rounded out the top four. Cary (117) and Panther Creek (99) were sixth and seventh, respectively.
Twelve records – 4A or all-classifications – were set during the meet’s 22 swimming events.
The best individual finishes by a Green Hope boy came from sophomore Jonathan Glavich – second in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM – and junior Atalay Onol – third in the 200 freestyle.
The Falcons were also second in all three relays.
“Coach (Lauren) Nosal has done a great job of making us one,” said Hollinshead, adding that the Falcons are made up of several different year-round club teams. “We’re working toward a common goal and I think that had a big effect on how we swam today.”
Hollinshead also won an NCHSAA sportsmanship award.
Holly Springs senior Colin Ellington repeated his title in the 50 free (20.76 seconds) then broke his own NCHSAA record in the 100 freestyle by one-hundredth of a second (44.86) to earn MVP honors for the second straight year.
“I did pretty good. I was upset with the 50 because I wanted to go for the record,” said Ellington, an N.C. State recruit. “It feels good to repeat (MVP honors).”
Cary junior Justin Ress won the 500 freestyle (4:32.69) from lane seven, beating defending champ Jamison Hauser of Panther Creek and cutting almost 11 seconds off his seeded time from regionals.
“Confidence is the key. Last week I was not confident and I knew I had to improve on that,” Ress said. “I knew I’ve done it before, so I could do it again.”
Panther Creek sophomore Connor Callahan won the diving championship held Thursday evening.
On the girls’ side, Green Hope’s Hannah Moore was the lone exception to the Hough and Charlotte Catholic winners.
She stole the show for one event after her blistering pace to break the NCHSAA record in the 500 freestyle (4:40.98).
She shaved almost six seconds (4:40.98) off the mark previously set by West Johnston graduate Sarah Henry. The moment she saw her time on the board, her mouth gaped open – and stayed there for the next 45 seconds.
“I did not expect that at all. Last year I was 4:47 and the record was 4:46 who was set by Sarah Henry, my idol,” Moore said. “That’s faster that I went at winter junior nationals.”
Moore, a five-time individual state champ, was also second in the 100 backstroke, where her state record set last year was broken by a Charlotte Catholic swimmer.
The joy of breaking Henry’s record kept her on cloud nine despite that loss.
“It totally overshadowed that. After that, it was OK,” Moore said.
The rest of the girls’ meet was typified by the 100 butterfly race, where swimmers from Charlotte Catholic and Hough tied for first place and a new 4A meet record.
The Hough girls also broke two NCHSAA all-classifications records and claimed two more wins. Charlotte Catholic set five total records and won one more.
Panther Creek’s Haley Bishop was fourth in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 butterfly. Middle Creek freshman Julia Poole came in second in the 200 IM while Cary junior Christine Kerr was third in the 100 freestyle.
Athens Drive’s Cameron Brown, a Florida State recruit, was fourth in the 200 yard medley and Apex’s Ashlyn Butkowski was fourth in the 500 freestyle
In relays, Cary was third in the 200 medley and Green Hope was third in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps