NORTH CHARLESTON – Despite the Wando Warriors’ girls swim team lapping the competition to win the 5A state championship Saturday evening, both Fort Mill and Nation Ford had a dog fight for second place with the Jackets needing to finish ahead of the Falcons in the final race to grab the runner-up position.
Wando won with 412 points, but Fort Mill trailed Nation Ford by 3.5 points entering the last event – the 400-yard freestyle relay.
That event saw Fort Mill finish second to Wando by two seconds, but with an eighth-place finish by the Falcons, it was enough to bump the Jackets into second place overall. The Fort Mill 400-yard free relay team consisted of the Corbi sisters – Ava and Olivia, as well as Anna Kate Halligan and Jadyn Nelson.
Fort Mill head coach Cindy Van Buskirk was not expecting a second-place finish for the Jackets.
“Fabulous,” she said. “We got some talent. I am very proud of them. The drops in times were wild. It is going to be a great 2022.”
Fort Mill graduates just three girls on the team this year. The Jackets finished with 297.5 points with Nation Ford finishing third with 289 points.
“I am super proud of them,” said Nation Ford head coach Lori Glasco. “I feel like the girls are growing together.”
Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford wasted no time collecting points as the Falcons finished second in the first event in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:48.91, three seconds behind event winners, Wando. Those four girls in the relay were Sophia Bujoreanu, Emily Eaton, Mackenzie Riga and Julia Pou.
Fort Mill’s Olivia Corbi won the second event in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:54.22, beating Spartanburg’s Anna Buchert by 2.5 seconds to win the state title. Corbi said her best strategy was no strategy.
“I didn’t really have a strategy,” Corbi said. “I think not having a race strategy takes the stress off. I just like diving in and feeling it.”
Halligan finished third in the 200-yard individual medley for the Jackets and Eaton finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard freestyle for Nation Ford.
After a short awards break where it was announced that Fort Mill’s Van Buskirk was named to the South Carolina Swim Coaches Hall of Fame, the action resumed with Corbi finishing fourth in the 500-yard freestyle.
Nation Ford then won the 200-yard free relay in 1:39.39 with Pou, Eaton, Ava Padgett and Belle Kolatis claiming the state title. The next event saw the Falcons’ Bujoreanu finish third in the 100-yard backstroke and then Fort Mill’s Cadyn Henson take fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke, with the two races setting up the 400-yard freestyle relay event.
In the 4A girls meet, Catawba Ridge finished 19th out of 24 teams with 39 points. Isabella Meehan led the way with three top 20 finishes for the Copperheads. That included finishing 12th in the 100-yard backstroke. Indian Land and South Pointe finished tied for 12th and Lancaster was 14th. Eastside won the 4A meet.
The 4A boys meet is 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11 followed by the 5A boys meet at 6 p.m. both back down at the North Charleston Aquatic Center.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep