In a season when Cabarrus County made a statement at the boys 3A state swimming meet, Concord Robinson's Chad Heiser stood out among his peers.
One-third of the top 15 teams came from Cabarrus' South Piedmont Conference, and Heiser led Robinson to a league-best fourth-place team finish at the state meet Feb. 12 in Cary.
Heiser, a senior, also became the Bulldogs' first-ever state-champion swimmer when he won the 200-yard individual medley. He also finished second in the 100 breaststroke and swam on Robinson's two relays that placed in the top four.
Behind Robinson's fourth-place finish, Cox Mill High placed sixth and Harrisburg Hickory Ridge finished seventh. Kannapolis Brown came in 13th, and Mount Pleasant was two spots behind the Wonders.
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Last year, Heiser was within reach of two state championships. He finished as runnerup in the 200-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100 breaststroke.
For this year's championship run, he scrapped the freestyle and opted for the individual medley. Heiser started this year's state meet seeded first in both the individual medley and the breaststroke.
Heiser said he was confident going into the IM finals after winning the preliminaries earlier in the day.
"I had a good warmup for the event. When you go to the area where they parade you to the pool, I felt ready to go. My mind was set on winning this race."
Heiser said he overtook his closest competition, Wilson Hunt's Shawn Hunter, between the butterfly and backstroke legs (first and second legs). After the breaststroke, Heiser was about a body-length ahead, and he used the freestyle leg to churn out a winning time of one minute, 55.42 seconds.
Robinson's 400-yard freestyle team of Heiser, Griffin Fiedler, Ryan Buddenbeck and Tyler Gomez placed third. The Bulldogs' 200-yard medley relay team of Fiedler, Heiser, Gomez and C.J. Herron finished fourth.
In each of those relays, Cox Mill's teams finished one spot ahead of Robinson. Nick Cannon, Preston Roycroft and Ethan Garrison swam both relays, while Kyle Cicenia competed as the fourth team member in the 400 freestyle and Austin Kirby in the 200 medley. Roycroft also had a fourth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Hickory Ridge's Zack Lambert, the defending state champion in the 100 backstroke, was the runnerup in this year's race. He also finished third in the 100 freestyle.
Robinson's Hunter Rogers had the best finish of any Cabarrus County female swimmer, placing fourth in the 500-yard freestyle.
Leto wins hurdles sprint
In indoor track and field, Concord senior Juanita Leto won the 55-meter hurdles at the 1A/2A/3A state championship meet Feb. 12 in Fayetteville. Because the state's only indoor track-and-field complex (at UNCChapel Hill) is undergoing renovations, the championship meet was held outdoors but at indoor distances.
Leto has long been one of Cabarrus County's top hurdlers. Last year, she finished second in the 300-meter hurdles at the 3A state outdoor championships. She placed ninth in the 100-meter hurdles.At last year's indoor state championships, Leto was the third-place finisher in the 55-meter hurdles.