ASHEVILLE – Emma May laughed it off at first.
The Carolina Day girls swim team only has two seniors – May and Emily Newcomer. Like many of their Western North Carolina brethren, the Wildcats have to venture off-campus to conduct meets and practices (UNC Asheville, in this case).
So when their coaches began saying that winning the program’s first-ever girls state championship was a distinct possibility, it didn’t go over so well.
Carolina Day’s swimmers made that supposed fantasy a reality on Monday inside the Greensboro Aquatic Center, accumulating 265 points, 29 more than runner-up O’Neal School (236) out of Southern Pines.
The Wildcats are coached by the husband and wife team of Graeme McGufficke and Karla Weidner.
“We didn’t expect this to happen at all,” May said.
“Coach Graeme told us it might happen and my reaction was ‘You’re so funny.’ For it to happen is amazing and the best part is that it was a total team effort. It wasn’t just one person carrying the team. To have a state championship come from swimmers from all different ages has just been amazing.”
Indeed, NCISAA programs are allowed to use middle school and high school-aged athletes. So Carolina Day drew its points from a multitude of swimmers on Monday, capped off by a gold-medal showing by its 400-yard freestyle relay (3 minutes, 44.02 seconds), consisting of May, eighth grader Olivia Sutter, freshman Madeleine Bauer and seventh grader Lacy Westle.
“I’ve been on this team for seven years, so for this to be my last swim meet at Carolina Day is really exciting,” Newcomer said.
“It’s amazing what we were able to do, and cool to see people from different ages contribute. It’s a lot different for me now. I remember being in middle school and looking up to the (high school) seniors. And now I’m one of them.”
Carolina Day had several other top-three finishes in the medley relay (third place, 1:54.85), May in the 100-yard butterfly (third place, 1:01.60), Maddie Paulus in the 100-yard freestyle (third place, 56.79) and Bauer in the 500-yard freestyle (second place, 5:10.99).
Carolina Day held a campus-wide celebration on Tuesday afternoon to honor both the girls swim team and its six-time defending state champions in girls basketball.
“We knew that if everything went according to plan, that we had a good chance,” Weidner said.
“But that rarely happens. The thing that was so amazing is that we got contributions from so many swimmers, not just our top ones. These kids work so hard, and swimming is really still an unsung sport at a lot of schools. It’s nice to see them celebrated.”
NCISAA 1-A/2-A meet
Monday at Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro
8. Carolina Day 116; 31. Asheville Christian Academy 3.
Medley relay: 7. Carolina Day 1:54.35; 10. ACA 2:12.50; 200-yard freestyle: 11. Matthew Morrison (CD) 1:53.20; 200-yard freestyle: 13. Spencer Bock (CD) 1:58.04; 200-yard individual medley: 9. Matt Swedan (CD) 2:09.73; 100-yard freestyle: 4. Matt Swedan (CD) 51.38; 500-yard freestyle: 8. Matthew Morrison (CD) 5:08.56; 9. Spencer Bock (CD) 5:08.77; 200-yard freestyle relay: 12. Carolina Day 1:45.79; 100-yard breaststroke: 14. Joseph Delaloye (ACA) 1:15.99; 15. Ben Broshar (CD) 1:16.13; 400-yard freestyle relay: 6. Carolina Day 3:39.40.
1. Carolina Day 265; 11. Asheville Christian Academy 70.
Medley relay: 3. Carolina Day 1:54.85; 200-yard freestyle: 4. Madeleine Bauer (CD) 1:59.07; 5. Emma May (CD) 1:59.29; 8. Lacy Westle (CD) 2:06.07; 10. Katie Bauer (CD) 2:09.10; 200-yard individual medley: 6. Olivia Sutter (CD) 2:19.52; 7. Riley Beckstrand (ACA) 2:21.38; 50-yard freestyle: 4. Maddie Paulus (CD) 25.53; 16. Anna Kate Baechtold (CD) 28.53; 100-yard butterfly: 3. Emma May (CD) 1:01.60; 6. Erin Butler (ACA) 1:02.90; 100-yard freestyle: 3. Maddie Paulus (CD) 56.79; 7. Lacy Westle (CD) 58.18; 100-yard breaststroke: 6. Erin Butler (ACA) 1:12.58; 5. Riley Beckstrand (ACA) 1:13.65; 500-yard freestyle: 2. Madeleine Bauer (CD) 5:10.99; 4. Olivia Sutter (CD) 5:20.99; 8. Katie Bauer (CD) 5:41.69; 200-yard freestyle relay: 4. Carolina Day 1:50.03; 400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Carolina Day 3:44.02; 14. ACA 4:50.32.