Lake Norman Charter has a chance at two state titles
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
Lake Norman Charter is poised to contend for two state swimming championships.
The Knights boys and girls teams each won the N.C. 1A West Regional on Feb. 4 at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic. Both squads are among the favorites in the state meet in Cary on Thursday, Feb. 9.
“We definitely have the talent and ability,” said Alison Pick, Lake Norman Charter’s coach. “We just have to get in the pool and do it.”
The Knights girls rolled to the regional title with 325 points, well ahead of second-place Shelby (194 points) and Raleigh Bishop McGuinness (180.5).
Gabi Osterholz won the 100-yard freestyle, Emma Rubel won the 100 backstroke and was second in the 200 freestyle, and Adyson Lowe and Erin Lee finished 1-2 in diving.
The Knights girls racked up serious point by winning the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Rubel, Osterholz, Lauren Davis and Abbey Joiner combined on both relays.
Teams receive 40 points for winning a relay event, which is double the points awarded for an individual event. It makes good performances in relay events vital to a team’s chances of winning a state championship.
“Our relays will play a major part,” Pick said. “We came really close in most of our relays last year. The boys and girls need to win a few, because that will really help us out.”
Pick said another key will be “top-eight finishes,” which earn more points than swimmers who finish ninth through 16th (points are awarded to the to 16 finishers).
Lake Norman’s boys won the regional meet with 318 points, edging second-place Shelby (307.5) and Bishop McGuinness (273.5).
Chris Cardwell won the 100 backstroke, Brian Davis won the 100 breaststroke, and
Brian Piccirilli was second in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
Like the girls team, the boys snagged 80 points by winning two relays. Cardwell, Brian Davis, Austin Jones and Piccirilli combined to win the 200 and 400 freestyles.
The Lake Norman swimmers will have a different mindset from last year heading into the state championship. Last year, the boys finished second by a scant four points in the regional.
“It left a bitter taste in their mouths,” Pick said. “They went to states thinking `We’re gonna show you what we can do.”
“This year it’s a little of the opposite. We walked away here (regionals) with the wins, and now we need to go to states and say `We’re no fluke.’
Ditto for Lake Norman’s girls, who are out to prove that last year’s second-place finish at the state meet (by 11 points to Raleigh Charter) wasn’t a one-year deal.
“This (regional) was a major stepping stone for us, showing we had the depth and talent to do it,” Pick said. “It’s going to be really close on both sides. It’s what we’ve wanted all year, and what we’ve been striving for.”
The Knights have made major strides in the four years it’s had a swimming team. They weren’t eligible for the state meet the first year because they weren’t yet a member of the N.C. High School Athletic Association. Pick took over in the second year, and has helped the Knights become state contenders.
This year’s squad has 19 seniors, most who’ve been there since the beginning.
“I told the seniors they need to leave a legacy to pass down what we’ve started here,” Pick said. “They’ve done a really good job of that so far.”
“Last year was a big surprise for us. I really think we surprised ourselves with how well we finished. We’re a young team, but we have a lot of experience.”