CONWAY — With the state championship swim meet a week away, a few area teams proved they are peaking at the right time as they came away with region titles Saturday at Coastal Carolina University.
The Socastee boys and North Myrtle Beach girls cruised to championships in Region VII-AAA, while Carolina Forest girls pulled away to win Region VI-AAAA.
While the Braves and Chiefs won fairly handily, the Panthers led rival Sumter by a slim margin before pulling away late.
“The margin was closer halfway through the meet. We dropped a couple events I thought we would do better in,” Carolina Forest coach Larry Blue said. “Halfway through we had a two-point lead over Sumter. Sumter is a tough team. … [But] the girls stepped up.
“We had a midweek meeting with our lead swimmers to let them know we were in jeopardy of losing the meet if we didn’t step up our times. We made some changes and they ended up to be the right changes.”
Socastee, meanwhile, won its fifth straight region title as it tries to improve on a 10th-place finish at states last year.
“I think they’re doing great for this time of the year,” Braves coach Jay Preslar said. “I think they’re all peaking at the right time. I think they have a really strong shot to do well at states. I think they have definite top-five potential. If everything comes together, top-three potential.”
While regular cogs Ryan Sutton and Walker Harwell are key for the Braves, Preslar said the likes of Eddie and Chad Bateson, Jesse Perl, Michael Grabara and Kevin Fealy likely will be the difference at the state meet next Saturday in Columbia.
“All these guys are really critical because to get top five – I would love to get top three – to get that you have to have the combination of good relay finishes and some good individual finishes,” he said.
The North Myrtle Beach girls won their fifth straight region title and will look to improve upon a 14th-place finish at states.
Based on a 59-point margin of victory Saturday, the Chiefs appear to be on the right track.
“You know, it was kind of like I wasn’t really sure where we were going to end up [Saturday],” North Myrtle Beach coach Kristen Henly said. “We thought we had it all mapped up on the points, but it surprised me at the end at how far we pulled away.”
The North Myrtle Beach boys team also had a solid day, finishing runner-up to the Braves.
“I was so proud of them. I want to say last year we were seventh or eighth,” Henly said. “To get second place, is a huge improvement for them. It was incredible.”
With the region meets in the books, each team has a week to prepare for the state championships.
“I’m excited and I think they’re excited,” Preslar said of his swimmers. “It will all have to fall in place. So it’s exciting.”
West Florence took the boys’ Region VI-AAAA title.
• Team results–Carolina Forest 172, Sumter 144, West Florence 77, South Florence 28.
• 200 Individual medley relay–Carolina Forest 2:02.96; 200 freestyle–Brianna Strang (Carolina Forest) 2:01.39; 200 individual medley–T. Simonson (Sumter) 2:26.89; 50 freestyle–Lexi Salice (Carolina Forest) 26.82; 100 butterfly–Amber Lee (South Florence) 1:12.65; 100 freestyle–Haley Stewart (Sumter) 57.68; 500 freestyle–Brianna Strang (Carolina Forest) 5:26.31; 200 freestyle relay–Carolina Forest 1:47.77; 100 backstroke–Kia Kirkhart (Sumter) 1:07.70; 100 breaststroke–A. Fallaw (Carolina Forest) 1:19.93; 400 freestyle relay–Carolina Forest 4:08.35.
• Team results–West Florence 146, Sumter 136, Carolina Forest 89, South Florence 59.
• 200 Individual medley relay–Sumter 1:49.66; 200 freestyle–Joshua Clinton (South Florence) 2:01.92; 200 individual medley–Ian Lovice (Sumter) 2:15.29; 50 freestyle–Tyler Davis (Sumter) 24.02; 100 butterfly–Joshua Clinton (South Florence) 1:03.01; 100 freestyle–Tyler Davis (Sumter) 52.97; 500 freestyle–Dalton Davis (South Florence) 5:43.78; 200 freestyle relay–West Florence 1:40.92; 100 backstroke–Caleb Howell (Sumter) 1:00.62; 100 breaststroke–Ian Lovice (Sumter)1:09.73; 400 freestyle relay–West Florence 3:48.96.
• Team results–North Myrtle Beach 138, Socastee 79, St. James 70, Myrtle Beach 59, Wilson 50, Georgetown 33.
• 200 Individual medley relay–Socastee 2:04.73; 200 freestyle–Maggie Langdale (Myrtle Beach) 2:01.85; 200 individual medley–Anastasia Liakos (Socastee) 2:20.33; 50 freestyle–Ana Wolff (St. James) 27.03; 100 butterfly–Julia Campbell (Myrtle Beach) 1:04.73; 100 freestyle–April Ratley (North Myrtle Beach) 59.76; 500 freestyle–Barbara Long (North Myrtle Beach) 5:43.84; 200 freestyle relay–St. James 1:57.04; 100 backstroke–Maggie Langdale (Myrtle Beach) 1:02.69; 100 breaststroke–Anastasia Liakos (Socastee) 1:15.24; 400 freestyle relay–Socastee 4:09.39.
• Team results–Socastee 169, North Myrtle Beach 81, St. James 73, Wilson 67, Myrtle Beach 49.
• 200 Individual medley relay–Socastee 1:47.25; 200 freestyle–Eddie Bateson (Socastee) 1:58.82; 200 individual medley–Adam Stenger (St. James) 2:06.53; 50 freestyle–Michael Grabara (Socastee) 24.09; 100 butterfly–Adam Stenger (St. James) 56.64; 100 freestyle–Walker Harwell (Socastee) 51.19; 500 freestyle–Eddie Bateson (Socastee) 5:08.64; 200 freestyle relay–Socastee 1:35.17; 100 backstroke–Mason Bryan (North Myrtle Beach) 57.31; 100 breaststroke–Walker Harwell (Socastee) 1:01.58; 400 freestyle relay–Socastee 3:36.59.
Contact DAVID WETZEL at 626-0295.