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.
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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.