Harrisburg's Hickory Ridge High has its first state champion in any sport.
Junior Zack Lambert swam his fastest time ever in the 100-yard backstroke at the 3A state meet in Cary on Feb. 13, narrowly winning.
Lambert also finished 10th in the 100-yard freestyle and swam legs on two top-five relay teams.
After missing the state meet as a freshman because of an injury, Lambert placed third in the 100 backstroke at the state championships as a sophomore. A win at the West Regional this year gave him momentum heading into last weekend.
In the preliminary round, Lambert finished second in his heat to West Carteret's Bobby Bittner. The top two seeds in the championship round, they swam side-by-side in the middle lanes.
"He swam his heart out," coach Debbie Benfield said. "It was neck-and-neck. It was very, very hard to call. Everyone was watching the scoreboard at the end. He was beaming when he got out of the water."
Lambert's time was 52.13 seconds, 2 seconds faster than his preliminary time. Bittner was 0.65 second behind the champ.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Lambert, senior Matt Icard and juniors Adam Mulchi and Ben Mack placed third. Lambert, Icard, Mulchi and junior Ryan Steigerwalt finished fourth in the 200-yard medley relay.