Carolina Day swimmers felt a little trepidation about Tuesday’s NCISAA 1-A/2-A boys meet.
It turned out to be unfounded.
The Wildcats (282 points) blew away their coaching staff’s calculations to edge pre-meet favorite Winston-Salem Calvary Baptist (273) for their second consecutive state championship at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
“It was an electric, exciting day,” said Graeme McGufficke, who coaches the Carolina Day boys and girls along with his wife, Karla Weidner.
“We knew it was going to be a tough job and that the kids were going to have to swim well. They really bought into the mantra. We talked about three things. The goals were to have fun, swim fast and move up.”
That third step was especially important.
McGufficke and Weidner had pored over the heat sheets for the state meet. Based off seed times, they figured that their boys team was at least a 26-point underdog.
Furthermore, Calvary Baptist dropped down from the NCISAA 3-A level for this year’s meet.
Nothing was assured until the 400-yard freestyle relay of Thomas Key, Tony Kostov, Ross Marnock and Craig Morrison sped to a first-place finish (3 minutes, 32.11 seconds) in the day’s final event. The same foursome of swimmers won the 200-yard medley relay (1:48.25).
Both relay times were school records. Marnock and Jackson Krupnick are the only seniors for the Carolina Day boys team which clinched its 2012 championship in similar fashion with a strong 400-yard freestyle relay.
“Compared to last year, we were all just a little more conscious about what we needed to do to pull it out,” Key said.
“It’s a good feeling. Knowing that everyone was looking at us (as the defending team champion) makes it sweeter.”
Carolina Day had five runner-up finishes in the boys meet – Kostov in the 100-yard freestyle (52.17) and 100-yard butterfly (57.00), Key in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:06.90) and 200-yard individual medley (2:10.17) and Morrison in the 500-yard freestyle (5:09.07).
Marnock’s 50-yard freestyle time and Tony Kostov’s 100-yard butterfly time were school records.
But McGufficke said that the Wildcats’ depth was the key to victory. The meet was scored through 16 places in each event and Carolina Day even had a handful of seventh and eighth-grade students (who are eligible for NCISAA competition) in the pool Tuesday.
“It’s never the kids who finish first, second or third who win a swim meet for you,” McGufficke said.
“It’s the kids who finish 12th, 15th and 16th.”
Carolina Day’s boys and girls had the highest combined score (462) on any school competing on Tuesday thanks to part to three more school records.
Eighth grader Camille Long was the runner-up in the 200-yard individual medley (2:18.40) and the 500-yard freestyle (5:12.27).
She rounded our her day by joining Emma May, Maddie Paulus and Peyton Baer to come in third in the 400-yard freestyle relay (4:02.05). May, who is a freshman, also came in second in the 200-yard freestyle (2:03.70).
“The boys won, but it was an all-around team victory,” McGufficke said.