Franks leads swimmers
Leslie Franks should be given a hero’s welcome upon her return to South Rowan this week.
The junior was the only Rowan victor at Friday night’s SPC swimming championships.
Franks dominated the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:11.98, a personal best and a school record by nearly 3 seconds.
Franks also picked up a bronze in the 200 freestyle and anchored South’s 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay to second-place finishes. She led South’s girls to second place.
Who was first? Cox Mill garnered a first and a thirdin the opening relay of the night and never looked back. The Chargers nearly doubled the points total of the runner-up Raiders and scored as many points as every Rowan school combined.
“Cox Mill (girls) definitely was the most dominating team,” South coach Jacob Morton said. “They went 1-2-3 in two events and only lost two events. Jamie Carter has done a fantastic job with that team. It’s one thing to have that kind of talent at your disposal. It’s another thing entirely to develop it and put it together in a way that works.”
Fantastic is an understatement. With an experienced group of seniors and an explosive freshman class, the Chargers should be in the mix to win the 3A state title.
In addition to Franks, South picked up quality swims from Nicole Mauldin, Taylor Kluttz, Casey Pruitt and Faith Casswell. Casswell, Franks, Pruitt and Mauldin turned in the most exciting relay swim of the night for the Raiders, shattering the school record by more than 6 seconds. Casswell broke her own school record in the 100 back.
Jon Heidrick’s Mustangs scored 141 points to finish seventh. Brooke Waller paced East by finishing eighth in the 100 butterfly and played a big role on all three relays. Senior distance star Hailey Bartleson finished 11th in the 200 free and the 500 free.
Carson was eighth, with sophomore Ashlee Wagoner leading the way. She placed ninth in the 200 IM and 10th in the 100 butterfly. Senior Jana Bradshaw was 12th in the 100 backstroke for Andy Houck’s Cougars, while Katie Nuotilla was 13th in the 100 freestyle.
Mikayla Graham starred for West Rowan. The much-improved Graham finished seventh in the 50 freestyle with a time of 28.94.
Ray Morgan’s Spiders were not quite as dominating on the boys side as Cox Mill was on the girls, but Concord still won with relative ease. Led by double-winner Sam Jones, the Spiders scored 502 points to top runner-up Hickory Ridge (369.5). Jones dominated the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. Hickory Ridge’s Quinn Montgomery dusted the field in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly.
South paced Rowan County teams, finishing fourth with 291 points. A trio of costly disqualifications moved them behind third-place Northwest Cabarrus (308).
“It’s an experience thing,” Morton said. “We had kids miss the wall on their flip turns because they weren’t used to the pool. Next year they will be. Outside of those innocent mistakes, they swam lights-out. I can count on one hand the number of swims that were not personal bests. I was proud of my kids. I was proud of all of the kids from Rowan County.”
Senior Nathan Shorter led the Raiders with a runner-up finish in the 100 breaststroke. Fast-improving sophomore Stetson Johnston scored bronze medals in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. The Raiders also saw good swims from Tyler Fuller, Reagan May, Steven Lyons, Dustin Jenkins and Andrew Perry.
East Rowan finished fifth with 220 points. The Mustangs boasted Rowan’s most decorated male swimmer in junior Jason Troutman. Troutman is undeniably the aquatic superstar of the eastern end of the county. He placed second in the 100 backstroke and third in the 100 butterfly. On East’s medley relay, he teamed with Charles Goff, Robert Egloff and Drake Adams to finish fourth. Nathan Leazer, Wyatt Zander, Adams and Goff teamed up for another stellar relay performance in the 200 freestyle relay, finishing second to Concord. Goff, Egloff, Leazer, Adams and Caleb Beaver had solid individual swims for the Mustangs.
Carson finished 7th with 156.5 points. Houck’s Cougars leaned on John Patella.
Patella, a fierce competitor and a missile in the water, finished seventh in the 200 IM and eighth in the 100 butterfly. Sophomore Ryan Turney also swam well, tying for seventh in the 100 backstroke and picking up another seventh in the 200 freestyle. Henry Brown dropped 2 seconds to finish seventh in the 100 breaststroke. Turney, Brown and Patella teamed with Heath Mitchem to finish fifth in the 200 medley relay.
Bonnie Benson’s Falcons scored 27 points to finish ninth. Thomas Webb led West with a 14th-place finish in the 50 free and was 15th in the 100 free.
South, East, Carson and West will face off against Salisbury and North Rowan on Tuesday for the Rowan County crown. The meet starts at 9:30 a.m. at Salisbury’s Hurley YMCA.