South Mecklenburg High School opened way back in 1959, but Friday night, a couple of Sabres’ athletic teams did something they’d never done before.
South Meck’s boys and girls swim teams, long considered state powers, won conference championships on the same night, with both squads winning SoMeck 8 conference championships Friday. Both teams were powered by children of former South Mecklenburg state champions.
“This has never happened in the history of the school,” Sabres swim coach Leslie Berens said, “and they’re pretty excited. It’s a pretty cool thing.”
South Meck’s girls finished first with 645 points, ahead of state power Charlotte Catholic (582 points) and Ardrey Kell (447). Catholic was swimming without junior Julia Menkhaus, the reigning N.C. 4A state backstroke champion who swam in the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer. Menkhaus was swimming in a national event last week.
Sabres star Sinclair Larson’s mom, Karen, swam for the 1985 Sabres state championship team. Reagan Johnson is the daughter of Rod Johnson, who swam for the 1989 state championship boys’ team. And Madeline Martelle’s father, Rob, swam on the ‘89 boys state championship.
Martelle and Johnson joined Caroline Greiner and Sinclair Larson on a conference championship 200-yard relay team.
▪ Other Sabres champions included Larson (200 IM); Lindsay Miller (diving); Ellie Marquardt (500 yard free); and the South Meck 200 free relay team (Martelle, Johnson, Brynn Martinson, Marquardt)
▪ Sabres boys champions included Weston Youngblood (200 free, 100 free); Jacob Rauch (200 IM); Ethan Foster (diving); the 200 free relay team (Youngblood, Rauch, Lucas Johnson, Kellen Stillman); Lucas Johnson (100 yard breastroke); and the 400 free relay tean (Stillman, Marquardt, Johnson, Youngblood).
In the boys’ meet, South Mecklenburg had 641.5 points, to edge Providence (611) and Ardrey Kell (471).
South Meck was down one of its best swimmers, Chris Pfuhl, whom Berens felt was good for 37 points. She had her team really had to work hard to make up the difference.
“Providence was beating us until the last race, the 100 breast,” Berens said. “But South Meck went 1-2-4-8 and took the lead. That was the difference.”
Johnson, part of the Sabres’ 2015 and ‘16 state champions, won the 100 breast. He is Reagan Johnson’s brother.
▪ The N.C. 4A Western Regional swimming championship is Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center uptown. The diving is Feb. 3.