HUNTERSVILLE – The Hough High and Lake Norman Charter swimming teams are having their usual dominant seasons.
This weekend, they’ll take the next step on the road to a potential state championship. Both programs overwhelmed the competition at their conference meets last week.
The Hough girls’ team won all 12 events at the MECKA 4A conference meet Jan. 25 at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics. The Huskies piled up 607 points, well ahead of Concord Robinson (390) and Hopewell (330).
The return of nationally ranked Emily Allen was among Hough’s highlights. Allen, a junior who had won seven state titles (individual and relay) the past two years, missed two months with a concussion. She was accidentally hit by a soccer ball during a physical education class and didn’t swim while recovering. Her first meet was four days before the conference meet, but Allen didn’t miss a beat.
Allen won both the 50-yard freestyle (24.56 seconds) and 100-yard freestyle (53.99). Both her times automatically qualified her for the regional meet. She also swam the first leg of Hough’s winning team in the 200-yard freestyle, with teammates Meghan Dupay, Mackenzie Westaway and Jessica Merritt.
Hough’s Merritt sisters each won two individual events and swam legs on two winning relay teams.
Jessica Merritt, a sophomore, won the 200-yard freestyle (1:56.91) and the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.07). She was on Hough’s 200-yard medley relay and 200-freestyle relay.
Older sister Heather Merritt, a senior, won the 100-yard backstroke (1:01.37) and the 200-yard individual medley (2:11.49). She was on Hough’s 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard freestyle relay, which both won.
Hough’s Jocelyn Porter won the diving championship, followed by teammates Jennifer Giacolone and Katelyn Abernathy. The Huskies’ other conference champions were Margaret Higgs in the 100-yard butterfly (1:01.63) and Cameron Jobson in the 500-yard freestyle (5:38.10).
In the boys’ meet, Hough won nine of the 12 events to score 510 points, comfortably ahead of Concord Robinson (366.5) and Mallard Creek (352). The Huskies have won four straight conference titles.
Hough’s Harrison Mitchell dominated the diving en route to the conference championship. His 319 points tripled those of the second-place finisher.
Hough’s other conference champions were Alexander McMurry in the 50-yard freestyle (23.83), Brian Davis in the 100-yard freestyle (50.70), Hernan Gonzalez in the 500-yard freestyle (5:05.37), Frankie Gilligan in the 100-yard backstroke (56.51) and Trey Poff in the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.75).
The Huskies’ boys also swept the three relays - the 200-yard medley, 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle.
Hough will swim in the N.C. 4A West regional at 9 a.m. Feb. 1 at Huntersville Family, Fitness and Aquatics.
Lake Norman Charter wins conference meet
Lake Norman Charter, swimming its first season as a Class 2A school, won the boys’ and girls’ team championships at the Big South 3A/4A conference meet Jan. 16 at Stowe Family YMCA in Belmont.
The boys’ team won eight of 11 events to score 361 points, well ahead of Gastonia Ashbrook (222 points) and Belmont South Point (210). The girls' team finished first with 290 points, followed by Gastonia Forestview (265).
The Lake Norman Charter boys won three relay events – the 200-yard medley (Ben Hardin, Corrin Rothwell, Drew Queen and Sean Powers), the 200-yard freestyle (John Creel, Tyler Henderson, Andrew Farber and Matt Cuttino) and the 400-yard freestyle (Powers, Rothwell, Hardin and Queen).
Queen also won conference titles in the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.08) and 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.79). Powers was conference champ in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles in 24.25 and 53.74 seconds respectively. Rothwell won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:55.67.
The girls’ team won the 200-yard freestyle relay at the conference meet, as Andrea Gartner, Shreya Patel, Abbie Miller and Sydney Carte won in 1:53.30.
Lake Norman Charter will host the N.C. 1A/2A West regional at 4 p.m. Feb. 1 at HFFA.