High school swimming: South boys too deep in the pool; Carson’s Sever sets records

Published 12:02 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Carson senior Cooper Sever smashed records, but South Rowan’s boys ruled the Rowan County Swimming Championships with depth.

South scored 226 points on Wednesday at the Hurley YMCA to win a well-balanced struggle with Carson (211), East Rowan (200), Salisbury (144), West Rowan (112) and North Rowan (9).

“We spent a lot of time planning and formulating how we could get the most points, trying to figure out a way to win this meet,” South coach Jarrod Smith said. “We put people in events that they’d never competed in if it meant getting points.”

As was the case with the South girls, South’s boys were able to prevail with superior numbers.

South’s JD James won the 100 butterfly. That was the Raiders’ lone first place, but the thirds and fifths and sevenths and ninths kept coming.

“You can win a big meet like this in two ways,” Smith explained. “Win the events — or have a lot of swimmers who finish events and earn points. We finished events. We used our depth. When you finish second and fourth in an event, that’s worth more points than just finishing first.”

Sever was the meet’s individual standout.

“He crushed it today, just as he’s crushed it all season,” Carson coach Wesley Parrish said. “He’s having an amazing senior year, he’s been a great leader, and he has dropped seconds off good times, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. He’s a great example of hard work paying off. He was very good and he’s gotten better.”

Early in the day, Sever swam 1:50.79 in the 200 freestyle. That shattered a 10-year-old county meet record that had been held by Salisbury’s Taylor Rodenhuis, who clocked 1:53.23 in 2012.

“I knew my seed time coming in was very close to the record, so I knew I had a good shot at it,” Sever said. “That made me nervous, made me freak out a little bit, but everything worked out. I’ve put in a lot of work in and out of the pool in the last year, and it was a great feeling to get that time.”

In his other individual event, Sever broke an even older county standard. He was clocked in 1:01.92 in the 100 breaststroke, as his coaches and teammates celebrated. West’s Jeff Dockins had held that meet record since 2004 when he clocked 1:02.45.

If the South Piedmont Conference Meet takes place as scheduled on Saturday, Lake Norman Charter and Concord swimmers could push Sever to go even faster. He’s looking forward to that challenge.

Carson had numerous winners. Cohen Joyner won the 200 IM. Camden Miller took the 500 free. Shaun Pell won the 100 backstroke.  Sever, Joyner, Miller and Pell opened the meet by winning the 200 medley relay.

East was stout in the relays and won the other two, including an exciting 400 to close the meet.  Relay points count double, with first place worth 32 points.

Isaac Cawley, Jaxon Trexler, Josh Gardner and Cameron Ritchie won the 200 free relay for the Mustangs, while Trexler, Cameron Ritchie, Carson Ritchie and Nick Cioci took the 400 free relay.

Trexler added an individual win in the 50 free, while Cawley won the 100 free.

Salisbury got two seconds from Jack Heilig, who finished behind Sever in the 200 free and 100 breaststroke.

Will Webb wasn’t huge factor for the Hornets, but it was impressive to see him participating in yet another sport. The soccer star also helps out the Hornets in golf, baseball, basketball and football. He made a deal with his friend Heilig that if Heilig would play soccer, Webb would swim, and Webb made good on his promise.

West’s Juan Callerjo was second in the 100 backstroke to spark the Falcons. West’s Owen Martlock, who is credited with serving as a combination swimmer/coach as a senior, took third in the 50 free.

North got its nine points from Malakie Harris, who placed sixth in the 500 free.

But South owned the day. The rest of the field divided up the points, just as Smith had calculated, and South took home the championship.

It’s the 16th county championship in boys swimming for South. All the other schools have combined for six wins.

Carson won its first title in 2020. No meet was held in 2021 due to COVID.

“The county is the biggest thing we have a realistic chance to win and it’s the championship that means the most to our community,” Smith said. “In the county meet, we’re swimming against guys we know, so this means a lot of bragging rights. Our kids worked hard for it. They deserve it.”