CARY Sandy Martin and Tim Queen were there - three years ago. Hough coach Queen, then at North Mecklenburg, led the Vikings past Martin's Providence boys for the 2009 N.C. 4A swimming & diving championship at Triangle Aquatic Center.
What about these Panthers?
"They haven't lost a meet since then, and they vowed that they wouldn't lose this year," Martin said. "They did it and we're happy."
Providence (265 points) outlasted runner-up Hough (213) for the school's third straight and fifth overall (1997, 1998) state championship Saturday in the very same pool. In the same spotlight was Queen - hardly alone on this year's figurative throne. The Huskies girls tallied 314 points - 124 more than second-place Cary Panther Creek - en route to becoming their sports' queens.
The Hough triumph secured the school's first team state championship.
"It's just an awesome feeling," Queen said. "It's surreal right now."
Surreal, like the Huskies' meet-opening win in the girls' 200-yard medley relay and state record-setting performance in the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay.
Hough's Alexandra Kitchens, Ally Dupay, Heather Merritt and Emily Allen claimed the finals' opener in 1:46.05.
Allen, too, earned top honors in the 100 freestyle (50.29).
Kathryn O'Brien, Merritt, Payton Schrum and Allen finished the closing event's course in 3:25.69, decimating Apex's one-year old precedent (3:29.23). The quartet's male teammates - Patrick Cowley, John Manchester, Andrew Botelho and Peter Brumm - followed this inspiring effort with their own golden accomplishment in 3:07.58.
Queen cited the girls' diving state championship won Friday by Hough's Whitney Timberlake as a momentum builder.
"That carried over to this morning," Queen said. "Everyone just swam faster in more races than they ever have."
Brumm took first in the 200 freestyle (1:39.07), but Providence's depth, most evident in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, proved too strong.
Ryan Wilkinson, John Ferretti and anchor Kyle Darmody swam among both Panthers relay quartets.
Austin Snyder joined the trio in capturing the 200 medley crown (1:34.04), while Kevin Glenn was in on the 200 freestyle title in a new state record time of 1:24.78.
Wilkinson, Ferretti and Darmody helped Providence secure the event's previous state record (1:25.07) back in 2011.
"I just said, 'Don't DQ. Don't DQ,' " Martin told her swimmers before the 200 freestyle relay. "They were cool. They knew what that meant."
Martin, who per her own admission is not a great mathematician, said she had projected event scoring outcomes, and figured by that point, the Panthers were poised for the summit.
Among boys, Lake Norman's Logan Heck was a double winner in the 50 freestyle (21.01) and 100 freestyle (45.50), while teammate Reed Wheeler was first in the 100 backstroke (49.54).
Ardrey Kell's girls' 200 freestyle relay quartet (Sam Benson, Katie Erickson, Christina Villarasa and Shannon Foreman) prevailed in 1:38.60.
Kurt Wohlrab of Southern Pines Pinecrest was named boys' most outstanding performer following his state record in the 100 breaststroke (55.63) and first in the 100 butterfly (49.75).
Hannah Lincoln of Raleigh Leesville Road earned the girls' top individual honor with her own state record in the 100 butterfly (54.68) and first in the 50 freestyle (23.36).