Despite not winning a race, the Fort Mill boys’ swim team finished second at the 5A state swim meet, with the Jackets’ girls team winning three events and finishing third.
Wando won both the girls and boys 5A state titles. The Wando boys’ had 385 points, with Fort Mill coming in second with 252 points. The Wando girls’ team had 511.5 points to take the girls’ title. Riverside was second with 317.5 and Fort Mill was third with 304 points.
After a decade of dominance locally resulting in 10 consecutive region titles, the Fort Mill swim team came into the 5A state swim championships Saturday as one of the favorites from the Upper State to potentially bring home a title.
But a slower than normal start put the Jackets behind early on. The 5A meet started with the 200-yard medley relay, which in the past been a springboard for Fort Mill. That didn’t happen this time. Fort Mill started off quick in the first event in the girls 200-yard medley relay, but came up just short with a second place time of 1:46.26, just 0.17 seconds behind winners Spartanburg.
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“Every year is different,” said Fort Mill head coach Cindy Van Buskirk.
The Jackets had two fourth place finishes in the early going, with Austin Lockhart finishing fourth in the boys’ 200-yard freestyle in 1:47.04 and Erynn Black finishing fourth in the girls’ 200-yard individual medley in 2:09.48.
Fort Mill’s Tyler Blackwell finished second in the 100-yard butterfly in 51.30.
Fort Mill brought 29 swimmers to the event, the most Van Buskirk has ever had at the state meet. She believed the competition was so tight in the boys’ events, that it was hard to get the wins Fort Mill needed to grab the state title.
“Wando is pretty powerful,” she said. “They were cherry picking each other off. There was a lot of wonderful swims. I am thrilled for the boys.”
Fort Mill picked up the pace as the meet wore on, excelling in the sprint events. Fort Mill got its first state champion in Aubrey Chandler, who won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.58, dropping nearly a half second off her time.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I always get nervous at bigger meets. It has been my favorite meet so far.”
After about a 10-minute break, Chandler came back and won the 100-yard freestyle in 51 seconds flat, dropping 2.38 seconds off her qualifying time.
“I was really pumped up for the 100,” Chandler said. “I went into it with an open mind.”
Rock Hill’s CJ Davis won the boys’ 50-yard freestyle event in a blistering time of 21.60. He said he knew he wanted it more than his other competitors.
“I just felt longer today,” he said. “I was pulling a lot more. I wanted to just keep my head down and go for it.”
Like Chandler, Davis pulled off a double victory, winning another state title in the 100-yard freestyle in 47.44 for his second of the meet. Fort Mill wasn’t through with the winning as Black won the 100-yard backstroke for the Jackets in 56.70, giving them three state titles at the meet. It was her last race as a high school student.
“I knew what I needed to do,” Black said. “I knew it was going to be a fight.”
In the girls 200-yard freestyle, Clover had the highest local finisher in Audrey Hines, who came in third in 1:54, three seconds back of Spartanburg’s Kirsti McEnroe. Hines would also finish fourth in the 500-yard freestyle as well. The Clover girls’ team finished sixth and the boys’ team finished 24th at the meet.
Nation Ford had 43 swimmers on this year’s team and brought 19 of them to the state meet. The Falcons’ boys team finished eighth and the girls’ team finished 13th. Nation Ford had several top 10 swimmers in multiple events throughout the meet.
Northwestern’s boys finished 20th and Rock Hill finished 21st. Caleb Martin was the highest finisher for the Trojans with a fifth place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
South Pointe’s boys finished 10th in the 4A meet, led by Maurilio Saddoud. He finished second in the 100-yard butterfly, while Michael Ellenburg added a fourth place finish in the 200-yard freestyle. York’s boys finished 20th, and the Cougar girls also finished 20th. South Pointe’s girls placed 18th in the team standings.
Lancaster’s girls finished seventh, thanks in large part to Makenzy Mills’ state championship in the 100-yard backstroke, while the Bruin boys were 11th.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM