HUNTERSVILLE — The Elkin swim team sent 13 of its individuals and relay racers south to Huntersville Friday night for the chance to compete for a state championship, and came out of it with plenty of reason to believe it’ll get one.
Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics and Lake Norman Charter HS played host to the 1A/2A West Regional Finals, and both Elkin and East Wilkes had hopes coming in of sending some of their athletes to Cary next Saturday for the state championship. In the end, it was Mountain Valley Athletic Conference champion Elkin who would send 10 individuals and teams to states while East Wilkes came up just short. For each event, the top 12 swimmers or teams qualified for states.
It didn’t take long for Elkin to come out strong, as Palmer Duncan, Annie Douglas, Kirstan Beaver and Bianka Soos finished ninth to qualify in the 200 Yard Medley Relay, the first event of the night. On the men’s side of the same event, Alex Duncan, Jarrett Petterson, Tyler Eaton and Dockery Sloop finished seventh to qualify.
Duncan and Eaton will be competing against one another in the 100 Yard Butterfly, and while it’s something they’ve done all year, the tight races between one another have made it exciting to watch. Entering Friday night, the two were only a second apart, and were side-by-side in the event, each taking off significant time from the conference championships.
“Maybe during the turns I might look over and see where he is, and sure enough he’d be right there,” Eaton said. “That’s something to push each other, too.”
Senior Austin Coley came up just short in the 200 Yard Freestyle, but ground his way to just barely make it in the 500 Yard Freestyle by .22 seconds.
The girl trio of Soos, Beaver and Duncan would add Maia Schweikert to the squad for the 200 Yard Freestyle and qualify for state in that, while Soos’ brother Daniel joined Eaton, Petterson and Sloop on the men’s side.
Alex Duncan also would qualify for the 100 Yard Backstroke and 400 Yard Freestyle Relay, while the Soos, Beaver, Schweikert and Duncan qualified for the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay.
East Wilkes sent Hunter Tharpe and Sam Lenz to the meet and while they each either matched or improved their time, they came up just short of qualifying for state this year. The closest participant was Lenz, who finished 14th in the 100 Yard Butterfly. However, as young as the team is, Head Coach Collee Riddle said there is more than enough reason to be optimistic about their future.
“They started as a very beginning team. They made more improvements in one short high school season than I’ve ever seen a whole team do,” Riddle said. “We will build, and we will be strong.”
Preliminaries for Saturday’s meet will begin at 7 a.m. at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. A full listing of Friday’s results can be found online at www.elkintribune.com
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.