Huskies splash to historic state title
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
A dozen girls will forever be etched into Hough High history. They won the school’s first team state championship.
The second-year Huskies dominated the N.C. 4A swimming and diving championships at Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary on Feb. 11, scoring 314 points to runnerup Cary Panther Creek’s 190. Hough had two state champions in individual events (Emily Allen and Blair Timberlake), two relay teams that won, including one that crushed a state record, three second-place finishes, and two third-place finishes.
“That was kind of special,” Hough coach Tim Queen said. “It’s a special school with special kids. I couldn’t be happier for the community. It means a lot to everyone around Cornelius.”
So what did the Huskies do to celebrate?
“Well, besides all the girls shrieking for about a half-hour straight, not a lot,” Queen said, laughing. “They just all did a fantastic job.”
Hough’s apex came in the 400-yard freestyle relay event. Kathryn O’Brien swam a splendid first leg. Queen said at that point, he thought the quartet had a chance at the state record.
Teammates Heather Merritt, Payton Schrum and Allen kept pace in the next three legs, and the Huskies’ time of 3 minutes, 25.69 seconds shattered the state record by almost four seconds. That’s a huge margin in a sport where events are often decided by tenths or hundredths of a second.
Hough’s other relay winner came in the 200-yard medley, as Alexandra Kitchens, Ally Dupay, Merritt and Allen combined to win in 1:46.05. They missed the state record by one-tenth of a second.
The spark for Hough’s championship performance came on Feb. 10, a day before the swimming portion of the meet began. The diving events were being held nearby in Raleigh, and Hough’s swimmers, en route to practice, stopped by to cheer on teammates.
They saw Hough teammate Blair Timberlake, a sophomore, make precision dives, and teammates Karly Adams and Morgan Donnelly perform well.
“We watched about five of Blair’s dives and she was so good,” Queen said. “We had to leave for practice, but then later we got the call that Blair had won and two others had placed. Everyone was very excited, and I think that carried over into the swimming.”
Hough’s depth and talent allowed it to rack up points and pull away from the pack.
Allen won the 100-yard freestyle in 50.29 seconds. Merritt snagged second-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle.
Dupay was third in the 200-yard individual medley, and Shannon Bauer, Dupay, O’Brien and Schrum combined to finish third in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Hough’s girls roared through the season leading up to its championship. The Huskies won all 12 events at the I-MECK 4A conference meet. Next came the N.C. 4A Western Regional meet, which Hough won by 49 points. Merritt set the regional record in winning the 100-yard backstroke (58.02 seconds), and Hough’s O’Brien, Merritt, Schrum and Allen established a new mark of 3:32.9 in the 400-yard freestyle relay. As impressive as that was, they shaved seven seconds off that time a week later to set a state record.
Hough boys finish second in state
The Hough boys team finished second in the N.C. 4A championship meet. The Huskies’ 213 points trailed champion Providence’s 265 points, but were well ahead of third-place Raleigh Leesville Road’s 142 points.
Hough’s strong performance was keyed by its relay teams.
The Huskies’ Patrick Crowley, John Manchester, Andrew Botelho and Peter Brumm combined to win the state championship in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Crowley, Andrew Petry, Brumm and Manchester combined to finish second in the boys 200-yard medley relay, a scant 18/100th of a second behind Providence. Hough also finished second in the 200-yard freestyle relay, swam by Botelho, Manchester, Petry and Brumm.
Hough’s Brumm, a senior who has signed with Michigan, won the 200-yard freestyle championship in 1:39.07. Teammate John Manchester was third.
Harrison Mitchell, a sophomore, won the state diving championship. He scored 462.8 points, edging Raleigh Athens Drive’s Anthony Gallante (462.05 points).
Manchester also finished second in the 500-yard freestyle. Both Hough teams finished fifth in the state meet last year.
The 2011-12 Huskies
Payton Schrum (captain)
Alison Vest (captain)
Coach: Tim Queen
Assistant coach: Kimberly Beeker
Student coach: Alex McCutcheon