Midway’s and Clinton’s high school swim teams advanced out of the regular season to the 1A/2A Eastern State Regional Championship swim meet held at the Triangle Aquatics Center. In addition to the athletes, only the best officials are invited to judge the championship competitions. Included among them was Clinton High School assistant men’s varsity soccer and swim coach, Jamie Williams.
It was a historic event for Midway High School as the women’s 200 medley relay and the boys 200 freestyle relay were the first relay teams in school history to advance to the regional state championships. Only the top 24 relay teams of 99 schools made the post season. Midway was one of the very few 1A schools to qualify for the meet. Their women’s relay was composed of Sierra Boggs, Mamie Core (cpt), Savannah Brinkley, and Rachel Pope (Cashie Naylor was the first alternate). They finished 22nd overall with a time of 2:31.68. The men’s relay entered the championships seeded 24th. Andrew Johnson, Alex Boggs, Caleb Sanders, and Daniel Core (cpt) swam their guts out jumping to 18th place dropping almost 5 seconds to 1:47.36. Both teams set new school records.
Midway individual accomplishments came from the sibling duo of Mamie and Daniel Core. Both are outstanding breaststroke specialists. Mamie finished 13th at 1:20.47 and Daniel jumped 4 spots to finish 4th overall with a time of 1:05.61 which will surely catch the eyes of some college scouts.
More school records fell for Clinton High School as well. On the women’s side, three juniors (Darby Taylor, team captain Lillie Turlington, and Gracin Palmer) and a sophomore (Elizabeth Tsao) teamed up for the 200 medley and the freestyle relays. Fighting a bad cold (Lillie) and injured quadriceps muscles (Gracin), the Lady Dark Horses still dropped almost a second in both the medley (2:10.88) and freestyle (1:52.07) to finish 10th and 7th respectively. Perhaps the most improbable relay achievement came in the 400 freestyle relay. Entering dead last with a time of 5:30.00 this relay team was given a difficult task. Their coach asked all four swimmers to beat their personal best times. Sophomore Grace Reagan led off shaving more than three seconds off her 100 freestyle to give her team a body length lead. Darby Taylor did the same extending the lead to three body lengths. Senior captain Lexi Valenti not to be outshined by the underclassmen dropped four seconds to lap several other teams seeded faster than them. Gracin Palmer with her bad quadriceps muscles anchored the relay to a 4:37.04 time absolutely crushing the next school by half a pool length skyrocketing them to 13th place overall.
Individual results included: Lillie Turlington 16th in the 200 freestyle (2:14.80) and 21st in the 50 free (28.44); Gracin Palmer 16th in the 50 free (27.88); Elizabeth Tsao 10th in the 50 free (26.99); and Darby Taylor 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:19.97). On a side note – Lillie is a multitalented individual who you can see performing in Hairspray at the Sampson Community Theater this weekend.
Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, the Clinton men also put on a show of equal flare with their performances. Senior co-captains Ryan Taylor and Casey Yang tag teamed a great 200 medley relay with junior Freddy Bath and sophomore Aaron Viser setting a new school record of 1:54.33 for a 9th place finish (1st alternate was Weston Locklear). Casey, Ryan and Freddy turned around with junior Will Reagan to rip a 1:37.6 sixth place finish in the 200 freestyle relay (1st alternate was Austin Williams). These record times were unexpected given junior sprinter Alex Purcell was out due to illness who normally starts on the Clinton State Team relays. Due to Alex’s illness two more swimmers had to dramatically improve on their best times to give the 400 freestyle relay a boost. Senior Henry Elizondo and Junior Brennan Masterson were given a similar edict as the girls from the coach, “beat your best time.” The two team captains did their job each posting near identical times of 54.98 for Casey and 54.86 for Ryan. Henry cut more than three seconds off his time to 1:00.17 and Brennan tore off two seconds to 1:03.19 helping the seniors secure a 14th place finish.
Clinton men were also very successful individually with Ryan placing 18th in the 50 freestyle (24.49) and Casey 15th in the 500 freestyle (5:44.01). However, the accolades go to Freddy Bath who set the bar very high for all future Clinton athletes with the best individual performance in the history of Sampson County swimming. He finished 4th in the 50 freestyle and 7th in the 100 freestyle. The separation between his 50 freestyle of 22.75 seconds and the winner was a mere gasp 0.51 seconds.
The successful Eastern State Regional Swim Championship results were all the more satisfying due to the fact that until high school Cashie, Sierra, Rachel, Grace, Aaron, Will, and Brennan could not even float let alone swim two lengths of the pool without stopping to gasp for air. The teams have advanced to the State Championship meet to be held on Saturday February 9th, 2013 at the Triangle Aquatics Center.