HICKORY – At the Catawba County high school swim meet held Thursday night at the Hickory Foundation YMCA, St. Stephens swept both the boys and girls meets, outpacing six other schools.
The Indians boys dominated much of the night, outscoring second place Fred T. Foard 334-266. Hickory followed in third with 226 points and Newton-Conover finished in fourth with 212. Rounding out the team standings were University Christian (127), Hickory Christian Academy (77) and Maiden (35).
“We’ve got almost everybody back from last year,” Indians coach LeeAnn Privett said. “And a whole bunch of new boys that are really filling in all the spots and making us a very deep team this year, which we’ve not been in the past… There are some really strong ones on the other teams, but they don’t have the depth that we have.”
St. Stephens won five of the 11 events, including two of the relays (200 medley and 400 freestyle) as well as three individual events. Brady Leatherman and Stephen Procopii had a big hand for the Indians' point count. Each competed in the victorious relays, with Procopii winning an individual event in the 100 breaststroke and placing second in the 100 butterfly. Leatherman defended the county title in the 100 freestyle and added the 50 freestyle to his winning night.
Ethan McCosh was the big point scorer for Fred T. Foard as he won the 100 butterfly and was a part of the winning 200 freestyle relay team. He also placed second in the 200 individual medley.
Usually following behind St. Stephens and Hickory in county meets, coach Tammy Lutz said the Tigers boys’ teams could be reckoned with in the future.
“We only have one boy that is a senior and the rest are underclassmen,” Lutz said. “So, I think we have a lot of potential to give Saint and Hickory a little bit of competition. We really enjoyed it. They’ve come out and worked hard this year and our boys have really put a lot of effort into it.”
Ross Dant, recently ranked 29th in USA Swimming’s 18 & Under World 100, easily won his two individual events, the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.
On the girls’ side, a disqualification played a large part in the outcome as the Indians edged second place Hickory 291-263.
With the Red Tornadoes leading, they appeared to take a big step towards the meet title by winning the 200 freestyle relay. However, a Hickory swimmer was ruled to have left the block early during a relay exchange and the team was disqualified. The loss of 36 points turned out to be the difference.
“I didn’t see the false starts,” Red Tornadoes coach Cathy Hitchcock said. “So, it was called and they dual confirmed it, so it must have been a false start. But it’s exciting to be that close to St. Stephens because we try to compete.”
The Indians and Red Tornadoes each won four of the events, with University Christian winning two and Hickory Christian Academy claiming the other. Fred T. Foard finished third in the team standings with 243 points. Rounding out the field were Hickory Christian (164), University Christian (134), Maiden (111) and Newton-Conover (87).
Nina Turcanu paced St. Stephens with wins in the 200 freestyle, as well as defending her 100 breaststroke title.
The Durak sisters led the way for Hickory as Gwen and Anna made up two legs of the winning 400 freestyle relay team. Anna Durak won both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke event, while sister Gwen won the 100 freestyle and finished second in the 200 individual medley.
The Little family from University Christian also had much to celebrate as Rachel Little won the 200 individual medley, swam a leg on the winning 200 freestyle relay and finished second in the 100 backstroke, while Tommy Little won the 200 freestyle and was the runner-up in the 100 backstroke.