Longtime Concord swim coach Ray Morgan proudly says his boys’ South Piedmont Conference title – their first since 2008 – was truly a team effort.It wasn’t just the Cabarrus County record-setting relay teams – the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle, both made up of freshman Sam Jones, sophomore Tucker Wall, junior Justus Cochran and senior Greg Leeman – that allowed Concord to unseat three-time conference champion Jay M. Robinson.“The other nine guys also had contributing roles in that meet and were incredibly valuable to us,” said Morgan, who’s in his 13th year with the Spiders. “It would not have come down to that last race had it not been for those other nine guys stepping up and saying, ‘Tthis is our night.’ ”With Concord coming in with only a two-point lead heading into the 400-free relay, the Spiders didn’t need much motivation to close out strong.“None of us had gotten to the conference championship before,” said Cochran.The Spider “A-team” notched a key win against the talented Robinson relay team. Then Concord’s “B-team” – made up of Wade Bestler, Scott Pless, Evan Johnson and Ryan Harvey – placed third in the final race of the Jan. 21 meet to seal their team’s 10-point win against Robinson.“With the caliber of competition in our league, you have to have a perfect meet,” said Morgan. “And we just about did.”The coach said Concord came into the meet with a mentality that they were behind. Morgan explained that if qualifying had been scored, Concord trailed Robinson by 26 points. He made sure his swimmers knew that, challenging them to swim their best and outperform those rankings.“And they did, starting with the first event: the 200 medley relay,” Morgan said. “By winning it, we got the snowball going.”Wall, the anchor on that race, said that winning the relay – with a time of 1:42.74 – set the tone for the meet.“It was definitely a confidence-booster,” he said. “Knowing that we had already broken a meet record and had a little bit of a leg up was kind of nice.”Concord got individual championships in the 200-yard individual medley from Cochran and in the 500-yard freestyle from Jones.Jones also finished second in the 200 free behind Griffin Fiedler. The Robinson senior outlasted Leeman in the 100 butterfly. Leeman was also second in the 100-yard backstroke.Morgan explained that having a core of versatile boys in Cochran, Jones, Leeman and Wall has been important in his boys’ success.“I can put those boys in about anywhere we need them to swim,” Morgan said. “And they’ll do well at it.”The Spiders broke the meet and conference mark in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:20.03. Cochran, who was also SPC runner-up in the 100 backstroke, said setting conference and county records was rewarding.“We’ve had a lot of good swimmers come through our conference, and to know that we’re the fastest relay to swim at that meet is pretty cool,” he said.Paying back Robinson for last year’s 37-point loss to finish as SPC runners-up pushed his swimmers, Morgan said.The same Jay M. Robinson Bulldog foursome – Tyler Gomez, Ryan Buddendeck, Ben Masius and Fiedler – had come from behind in 2012 to win the 400 free relay and seal the title.“That revenge factor had something to do with it,” said Morgan. “Those boys train with each other, see each other all the year and are friends – for the most part – but they’re also competitors, and they knew that for those three minutes, 20 seconds it was a war.”With 42 members on the boys’ and girls’ team, Morgan said that this year’s Spiders may be the deepest group of swimmers he’s coached. The girls finished third in the SPC championship meet behind four-time winner Robinson and second-place Cox Mill.Morgan said that the boys’ title is one he’ll remember.“It’s been a long time since we’ve won a championship,” said Morgan. “It was also especially good because of the strength of our conference. We have – without question – the strongest 3A conference in swimming.”But that’s not enough to satisfy the Spiders.“We have a lot left to prove,” said Cochran as he prepared for last week’s 3A West regional. “But so far, this is definitely the best team we’ve had in my years. Everyone has done a good job. I’m proud of this team.”This article went to print before Feb. 2’s 3A West regional meet. The 3A state meet is scheduled for Feb. 8 in Cary.Correction: Robinson’s Griffin Fiedler was last year’s SPC swimmer of the year. Teammate Tyler Gomez claimed the honor this season.
Tuesday, Feb. 05, 2013
Concord boys win SPC swimming title
Concord’s boys win first title since 2008
From left, Concord's Tucker Wall, Justus Cochran, Greg Leeman and Sam Jones set Cabarrus County records in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays to help the Spiders win the boys' SPC swim title. SERGIO TOVAR - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tovar: 704-358-5941; Twitter: @sergiotovar
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