North Carolina High School Athletic Association

4A Swimming & Diving Championship Recap: South Mecklenburg men and Hough women take home the hardware

CARY, N.C. – The South Mecklenburg men’s team took home their third straight 4A state championship as they held off Hough 279-208 by taking two of the three relay events at the meet. The Hough women nabbed their second straight title led by Jennifer Giacalone who won the 1-meter diving event with a score of 474.40.

South Mecklenburg men got stellar performances in the relays, winning two of the three events. The Sabres out-touched Hough in the 400 Free Relay as Christopher Pfuhl, Kellen Stillman, Weston Youngblood and Johnson combined to post a 3:06.64 time. Johnson also finished third in the 200 IM (1:51.01), finishing behind Chan from Hough and Brown from Athens Drive in the event.

The Sabres 200 Free Relay team of Youngblood, Stillman, Johnson and Rauch edged Grimsley as the South Mecklenburg quartet touched in 1:25.24 to take the top spot.

Youngblood (1:40.67) and Pfuhl (1:41.17) finished second and third, respectively, behind Jack Walker of Myers Park in the 200 Freestyle. Walker won the event in a time of 1:39.61. Youngblood added a third place finish in the 500 Freestyle to help boost the Sabres, finishing behind John Frith from Myers Park (4:30.14) and Rhys Kawaguchi from Cary (4:32.43).

In the women's team competition, Hough got solid performances from several swimmers to help them hold off Leesville Road. Lillian Higgs took second in the 100 Breaststroke finishing in 1:02.19. She also finished third in the 200 IM, posting a time of 2:02.61 behind Poole and Kate Moore from Green Hope (2:00.71).

The Huskies were powered by their divers, as Jennifer Giacalone (474.40) and Jocelyn Porter (469.35) went first and second respectively. Olivia Tarpley (401.40) from Hough finished fifth as well in the 1-meter diving event.

The Huskies 400 Free Relay team of Marissa Lassell, Kensley Merritt, Katelyn Qualls and Heidi Lowe finished in 3:28.85 just behind Charlotte Catholic. The 200 Medley Relay team of Merritt, Higgs, Qualls and Lassell finished third.

Lowe gave the Huskies another second place finish, this one in the 200 Freestyle, finishing in a time of 1:48.57 just behind event winner from Sanderson, Kenna Haney (1:47.29).

Julia Poole from Middle Creek was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer winning the 200 Individual Medley in a time of 1:58.96 and the the 100 Breaststroke in a time of 1:01.78. It was the second year in a row she earned the honor. She set a new state record in the 200 Individual Medley in the preliminary heats touching the wall in 1:58.77.

Leesville Road’s Grace Countie was victorious in all four events she competed in, individually taking top honors in the 50 and 100 Freestyle events and anchoring the 200 Medley and 200 Free Relay teams that were winners for the Pride. Countie posted a new state record in the 50 Free, touching in :22.60 seconds, besting her record set last year.

Charlotte Catholic’s Julia Menkhaus was a double winner individually winning the 100 Butterfly in a 4A record :53.61 seconds and the 100 Backstroke in :53.74 seconds. She also led off the victorious 400 Free Relay team, combining with Lindsey Mahn, Erin McCullagh and Olwyn Bartis to post a 3:28.57 and edge second place Hough by 38-hundredths of a second.

On the men’s side Broughton’s Jack Messenger was named the Men’s Most Outstanding Performer as he won the 50 and 100 Freestyle events. Messenger’s time of :44.64 in the 100 Free set a new state record, edging the mark set in 2014 by Holly Spring’s Colin Ellington (:44.86). Messenger also won the 50 Freestyle in a time of :20.53 seconds. 

Zach Brown from Athens Drive was a double individual winner, taking the 200 IM in a time of 1:49.84 then the 100 Butterfly in :48.78 seconds. In the 1-meter diving event, Andrew Capobianco from Holly Springs won the event for the second straight year, posting a score of 547.40.

Hough swimmer Will Chan bested himself and Daniel Le from Northwest Guilford in breaking the jointly held state record time in the 100 Breaststroke (:55.14). Chan won the event posting a time of :54.47 seconds nearly two seconds ahead of two swimmers from South Mecklenburg, Luke Johnson (:56.25) and Jacob Rauch (:56.31).