Huskies roll into regional after sweeping I-MECK 4A titles
by Cliff Mehrtens
It didn’t take long for Hough High to turn into a swimming power.
The second-year Huskies convincingly won the I-MECK 4A conference boys and girls championships on Jan. 21. The Hough girls won all 12 events at the meet, and the boys won nine of 12.
It’s no surprise they’re among the favorites at the N.C. 4A Western regional meet Feb. 3-4 at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics.
And, it’s not really a surprise that Hough became so good so soon.
When the school was formed two years ago, it inherited a lot of good swimmers who attended North Mecklenburg High. Hough also has a coach (Tim Queen) who has won four state championships.
The star is senior Peter Brumm, who has signed with Michigan and has U.S. Olympic qualifying times in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly and 200 freestyle. At the conference meet, Brumm won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, he and swam a leg on Hough’s winning relay teams in the 200 individual medley and 200 freestyle.
“I knew as soon as they drew the (attendance) lines, that we were going to get good swimmers and have a good team,” Brumm said. “It’s awesome that it developed so fast into a unified team. We’ve even developed some traditions.”
That includes the boys shaving their heads for the state meet Feb. 11, as a sign of unity.
The girls team is loaded with talent, too. Emily Allen, Ally DuPay and Heather Merritt won two events apiece at the conference meet.
Hough also has the benefit of experience of post-season racing. Last season, the boys team won the conference, finished third at the regional and fifth at the state meet. The girls were second in the conference and fifth at the regional and state meets.
Loud, large crowds and big-meet settings don’t bother Hough.
“Going in as a freshman, you don’t know what to expect,” said Schrum, a senior who won the conference title in the 50 freestyle. “It’s different from any other club we’ve been to. The emotion and the passion, it’s so loud. The races are close. The standings are close. It definitely helps being there before.”
“Last year we were just trying to get people (qualified) to states, as many as we could. This year we’re really thinking about the lineup and trying to win (a championship).”
Brumm said experience will help and that high school events differ from year-round club teams.
“It’s always new every year, but going back, you know what to expect, and that helps,” said Brumm, who will swim at the Olympic Trials in June in Omaha, Neb. “High school meets are completely different. It’s a lot more team-oriented, so the crowd is into it a lot more than club meets.”
Queen said his teams will face tough foes in Ardrey Kell and Providence at the regional and state meets.
“We can’t get too psyched out about where they’re at right now,” Queen said. “They’ve got to maintain their focus, make sure they’re rested. We have to attack every race because there’s no tomorrow. It does help our kids who’ve been through it. Freshmen can go either way. The ones who’ve been there know what’s coming, they can feel the crowd and the noise.”
Hough won’t be content with just qualifying for the state meet, Brumm said.
“We’re out to win it,” he said. “We’re a young team, and I believe everyone here will swim hard and believes we can win.”