The Charlotte Catholic girls’ swim team not only won 12 straight state titles in a row, but it also dominated the competition for most of that unprecedented span.
Coming into this season, the question was could the Cougars win No. 13 at the highest level, as they moved up to N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A for the first time.
Coach Brian Gross and the Cougars didn’t miss a beat, beating out two-time defending state champion Hough by 52 points to claim their 13th straight title, and the first at the 4A level.
While Gross, the Observer and Mecklenburg coach of the year, put together another championship lineup, Catholic junior Nora McCullagh, who repeats as Observer and Mecklenburg swimmer of the year, had another state meet for the ages.
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McCullagh, a major Division I recruit, was named the state meet’s most outstanding swimmer for the second year in a row, breaking state records in winning the 50 freestyle (22.88 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (53.95). McCullagh also anchored the 200 and 400 freestyle relay state championship teams that also set state records in both events.
Pine Lake Prep sophomore Alyssa Marsh is the Observer regional swimmer of the year after winning state championships in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke, earning the 1A/2A state championships’ most outstanding swimmer.
Marsh also had a record-breaking meet, setting the state record (all-class) in the 100 butterfly (53.72), while breaking the 1A/2A mark in the backstroke (54.86).
Marvin Ridge’s Melissa King-Pierce earned the Observer regional coach of the year honor after leading her team to a 3A state championship by 75 points over Chapel Hill.
On the boys’ side, Charlotte Latin’s Patty Waldron takes home Observer and Mecklenburg Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Hawks to their second straight N.C. Independent School Athletic Association 3A championship in a row.
Marvin Ridge’s King-Pierce doubles as Observer Regional Coach of the Year after leading the boys’ team to a third-place state finish and a 3A West Regional title, where the Mavericks were 277 points better than second-place North Lincoln.
Rock Hill Northwestern High’s Riley League is the Observer and Regional Swimmer of the Year after winning AAAA state titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, setting a state record in the latter at 57.82 seconds.
League, a Davidson signee, also is a straight-A student and owns 10 of the 11 school records at Northwestern.
Ardrey Kell junior Connor Long is the Observer Mecklenburg Swimmer of the Year honors.
Long showed his versatility by tying for state runner-up and finishing third at the 4A meet in the 100 butterfly, while also leading the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams to third and fourth-place finishes at the meet.