With strong relay performances and individual records and championships, O’Neal saw both the girls and boys teams finish third overall at the NCISAA Division 3 State Swim Meet on Wednesday in Greensboro.
“On the girl’s side, I was impressed with the versatility of this team,” coach Jen Schmitz said. “The team had some holes to fill, which meant some girls had to focus on developing new strokes to keep relays competitive and young swimmers had to step into Varsity events to help the team succeed.
“On the Boy’s side, our team was ready and prepared to swim fast, beating their finish last year by seven places! Overall, Coach Daniel and I couldn’t be prouder of both teams and want to say a special thank you to our senior leadership of team captains Molly Kuzma and Tim Richardson for mentoring and leading our younger swimmers.”
Wednesday’s state championship meet was divided into two sessions — girls in the morning, boys in the afternoon. On the girl’s side, the Falcons were led by freshmen Alexis Coates, who brought home two individual state championships in the 200-yard Individual Medley (IM) and the 100-yard Backstroke. Her 59.34 in the 100-yard Backstroke was a personal best time and helped Coates repeat as the individual state champion in the event.
Also scoring for the Falcons in individual events were Molly Kuzma placing fourth in the 200-yard Freestyle and Fifth in 100-yard Butterfly, Michaela Stone placing seventh in the 200-yard IM, Morgan Lewis placing 10th in the 200-yard Freestyle and 14th in the 100-yard Freestyle, and Emma Sager placing 16th in the 100-yard Backstroke. In the relays, the team of Alexis Coates, Michaela Stone, Molly Kuzma and Jordin Reed placed third in the 200-yard Medley Relay and second in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay. While Jordin Reed, Holli Harp, Emma Sager and Morgan Lewis placed eighth in the 400-yard Freestyle Relay.
Later that afternoon, the boys took their turn in the pool and built upon the morning session success. Led by strong relay performances, the Falcons finished third place overall, moving up seven places from last year’s finish.
Tim Richardson highlighted the afternoon swimming a 1:02.83 time in the 100-yard Breaststroke to not only set a personal best and finish in third place but also break the 24-year school record set by Doak Finch. In his second individual event, Richardson added an eighth-place finish in the 100-yard Freestyle.
Also scoring for the Falcons in individual events were John Shepherd with a fourth place finish in the 200-yard Freestyle and fifth in the 100-yard Backstroke, Sam Schmitz with a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard Freestyle and 14th in the 500-yard Freestyle, Alex Grimshaw finished seventh in the 200-yard IM and seventh in the 500-yard Freestyle, Jace Brown finished 14th in the 50-yard Freestyle and 14th in the 100-yard Freestyle, and Mathew Fisher placed 15th in the 100-yard Butterfly. In the relays, the 400-yard Freestyle Relay team of John Shepherd, Jace Brown, Alex Grimshaw and Tim Richardson placed third. The team combined for a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard Medley Relay, and the relay team of Nathan Brianas, Sam Schmitz, Mathew Fisher, and Charlie Kuzma placed 11th in that same event.
“A lot of hard work goes into competing at this level,” O’Neal Athletic Director James Franklin said. “Our girls and boys dedicate themselves to endless physical and technical preparation and when we have results like this it makes it all worth it. We are really proud of both our girls and boys varsity swim teams and coaches.”