High school swimming: South girls repeat as champs

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 19, 2023

By Mike London

SALISBURY — What are the odds of having a Smockstad and a Rockstad on the same team?

Probably at least a million to one, but South Rowan’s girls swim team is happy to be that one in a million.

Audrey Rockstad swam on a relay winner, while RaElla Smockstad won the 100 backstroke at Tuesday’s Rowan County Championships at the Hurley YMCA.

“Smockstad and Rockstad, now that’s a dyamic duo,” South coach Leslie Franks said.

It was a repeat triumph for South’s girls, who won the meet with 366 points. South won bigger this time than it did in 2021.

The only serious fight was for second place. East Rowan (193), West Rowan (178), Salisbury (140) and Carson (117) followed the Raiders in the team scoring.

South has good numbers. That’s part of the reason the Raiders won their eighth girls swim championship, just one fewer than Salisbury, which has had a number of Division I swimmers.

But numbers are only part of South’s success.

“Our depth and numbers certainly do help us, but it was pure hard work and dedication that won this meet,” Franks said.

South swept the three relays — that’s where depth usually shows up. The relays are critical because they offer double the points of individual events.

Winning all three relays, that’s 96 points right there.

Winning the 200 medley relay that kicks off every meet always matter a lot. That 200 medley victory by Audrey Weaver, Aiden Shepherd, Ava Blume and Sydney Hughes, started South’s momentum rolling toward another title. The SR quartet won the event by just four-tenths of a seconds over East.

“Sweeping the relays was a huge factor in getting a lot of points,” Franks said. “Seniors Sydney Hughes and Aubree Thompson had beautiful comeback swims that were crucial in winning those relays.”

Smockstad was South’s lone individual winner, but the Raiders had lots of seconds and thirds and so on. Even 12th place meant one point.

Thompson, who swam on two relay winners, had a PR in the 200 free for third place.  Hughes also swam on two relay winners and had PRs for runner-up finishes in the 50 free and 100 free.

“We had seniors who had a great night for us, but we also had some young swimmers step up to the plate, swimming some new events, and get solid times in,” Franks said. “Ava Blume’s second in the 200 and Audrey Rockstad’s second in the 100 butterfly come to mind.”

Leading East to second place was 14-year-old meet MVP Addyson Sechriest. She won the 200 and 500 freestyle races. She also swam on the second-place 400 relay team and the second-place 200 medley relay team.

“She’s extremely versatile,” East coach Amanda Trexler said. “As a freshman, she has already automatically qualified for four individual events for regionals and continues to help her team with relays. She works hard and impresses with her natural ability each meet. We are so proud of her performance, not only this meet, but all season.”

Another young East swimmer, Gracie Lineberger, 15, won the 200 IM.

Salisbury’s Ava Morris was a double winner, taking the 50 free and the 100 butterfly, where she was followed by three South swimmers.

Kate Burton won the 100 free for the Hornets.

West also had an individual winner. Anna Grace Blackledge won the 100 breaststroke.

But it was South’s day.

“We’ve had our sights set on county all year and our girls have worked hard to win another title,” Franks said. “I think a lot of people believe that swimming is an individual sport, but they proved that it takes a team to do big things. Right now, I’m one proud coach.”


Girls championships

Salisbury 9, South 8, East 6 

2023 County Meet

Team scores 

South 366, East 193, West 178, Salisbury 140, Carson 117

MVP: East’s Addyson Sechriest



200 medley relay — Audrey Weaver, Aiden Shepherd, Ava Blume, Sydney Hughes, 2:16.94

200 free relay — Hughes, Blume, Brinley Patterson, Aubree Thompson,1:54.42

400 free relay —Audrey Rockstad, Bailey Fisher, Laurel Everett, Thompson, 4:29.10

100 back — RaElla Smockstad, 1:26.80


200 free —Addyson Sechriest, 2:17.86

500 free — Sechriest, 6:14.10

200 IM — Gracie Lineberger, 2:39.53


50 free – Ava Morris, 27:20

100 butterfly — Morris, 1:10.03

100 free — Kate Burton, 1:03.44


100 breaststroke — Anna Grace Blackledge, 1:25.57