It’s hard to imagine what more Southwest Wake Athletic Conference swimming teams can do as an encore to last season.
Then again, it might not be so hard after all.
The Green Hope boys won the state title and bring back almost the entire team that qualified for last year’s championship.
The Green Hope girls were second and bring back almost all of their top swimmers as well.
Holly Springs’ Colin Ellington was the 4A state championship MVP and returns for his senior year; he’s one of four individual state champs to do so.
It could be more of the same this year.
The Green Hope boys lost two senior captains but return eight state qualifiers.
Sophomore Jonathan Glavich, junior Seth Maslowski and senior Stephen Hollinshead (a Bucknell recruit) participated in the maximum four state championship events last year, with Glavich (second in 100 butterfly, third in 200 freestyle) accumulating the most points. Sophomore Henry Hollinshead and junior Chris Daniels participated in three.
Daniels, Glavich, Maslowski and Stephen Hollinshead won the 200 relay. Juniors Jon Roach, Atalay Onol and Noah Sayre also return.
Apex, runner-up in the conference last year, returns all but two of its state qualifiers, including junior Brayden Lauffer, who participated in three events and was fourth in the 100 breaststroke.
Sophomores William Ritchie and Brandon Medins as well as junior Payton Farrell and seniors Joseph DeVries and Conor Hale also return for the Cougars.
Third-place Cary lost two state qualifiers but will lean on the experience of sophomore Will Atkinson and juniors Chase Millar, Justin Ress and Tosh Kawaguchi.
Panther Creek was fourth in the conference and brings back state champ Jamison Hauser (500 free) as well as Leif Reedstrom and Ryan Mathes, all juniors. Sophomore Connor Callahan was third in the diving state championships.
Athens Drive was fifth in the league but brings back talented sophomore Tyler Silver.
Holly Springs, sixth in last year’s conference championship, returns 100-yard freestyle (44.87 seconds) state record-holder Ellington, who also won the 200 individual medley.
Green Hope has a chance to defeat defending champ Hough High in Cornelius, despite how dominant Hough was last year. Charlotte Catholic has moved up from 3A to 4A and threatens to take a chunk of Hough’s points, thereby narrowing the gap between Hough and the rest of the field.
The Falcons are led by Michigan recruit Hannah Moore, who set the NCHSAA record in the 100-yard backstroke and won the 500 freestyle.
Among the other veterans are Maddie Massey, a James Madison recruit, and sophomore Brooke Rubendall, who was runner-up in the 200 freestyle and third in the 200 individual medley.
Senior Paige Rubendall, sophomore Jenny Nusbaum and juniors Emily Etgen, Christiana Cornea and Melissa Ortega will give lots of options when forming relays. Junior Mackenzie Michael was a state qualifier in diving.
It was actually Apex, not Green Hope, that won the conference title. Apex, the 2011 state champion, should be strong again with Marshall recruit Emma Williams, UNC Asheville recruit Allison Snyder and South Carolina recruit Jordyn Barham.
Apex also returns seven state qualifiers: seniors Kathrine DeForest, Delaney Boulo and Shauna Hines, junior Evelyn Williams and sophomores Kathryn Godlewski, Ashlyn Butkowski and Olivia Hair.
Cary, third in last year’s conference and sixth in the state, returns a strong group again in sophomore Carson Steidinger, juniors Christine Kerr and Kiana Albert and seniors Basira Knights and Megan Owens.
Owens was the 100 butterfly state champion, and Kerr was third in the 100 free.
Panther Creek was fourth in the conference and third in the state. The Catamounts return all but one state qualifier.
Carly Catella was runner-up in the 500 freestyle and was fourth in the 200 freestyle. Junior Haley Bishop was fourth in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. Juniors Julie Hu and Madison McGroarty and senior Sierra Tarrant also return.
Athens Drive was fifth in last year’s conference and brings back all four of its state qualifiers: Kiko Lamb (San Diego recruit), Cameron Brown (Florida State recruit) Juliann Strickland and Emma Edwardson.
Middle Creek, sixth in last year’s conference, brings back two state qualifiers in sophomore Sarah Giamber and senior Jessica Stringfellow.
Holly Springs, seventh in last year’s conference, returns three state qualifiers in senior Gillian Fortier, junior Kelsey Lawton and sophomore Margaret Redfield.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps