02/05/07 — Area athletes qualify for state swim meet

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Area athletes qualify for state swim meet

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 5, 2007 2:13 PM

Mason Chenier isn't a morning person.

When he gets to the pool, the Eastern Wayne sophomore needs a few laps to work out the kinks and test the recovery of an ACL injury he sustained during soccer season. Once the evening session begins, Chenier is a different person.

"I'm a better evening swimmer than I am in the morning," said Chenier. "I don't know why I don't swim quite as well. I guess it's early and my arms are kind of stiff. I know if I can get back to the finals, I always do better."

Chenier proved that theory Saturday evening at the Goldsboro Family Y. An outstanding short-distance swimmer, Chenier captured gold in the 50 and 100 freestyle events during the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern regional championship meet.

A year ago, Chenier finished runner-up in the same events.

"It felt great (to win)," said Chenier. "I felt like it was a deserved win because I've been working really hard this season weight training and swimming really hard in the pool. I've also had to struggle quite a bit to get over an injury from soccer."

Chenier, who swims with the Goldsboro Sharks club team, faced strong competition in each event. He recorded the top preliminary times in both swims, and shaved off a few seconds during the finals.

Brett Sexton figured to be Chenier's toughest competition during the 50 free. Sexton finished a mere 14-hundredths of a second behind Chenier in the morning session, but couldn't improve his time in the finals where Chenier posted a season-best 22.05 seconds.

"It was a great swim and I felt really good from the start," said Chenier of his gold-medal effort.

The 100 presented some concern. Alex Black, Chenier's club team coach, informed him that a few times had been recorded in error. Tim Mann, from Southwest Guilford, expected to be Chenier's top competition.

"I had to watch out for a guy a couple of lanes down from me," said Chenier.

Chenier eventually swam a personal-best 48.2 to complete the gold-medal sweep and advance to next week's state championship meet in Huntersville. Chenier also swam legs on the Warriors' 200 IM and 400 free relays, which each finished fourth and qualified for the state meet.

Joining Chenier on the relays are Xander Robinson, Spenser Rouse and Melvin Shipman. Robinson also qualified in the 200 IM (sixth, 2:14.66) and 500 free (fifth, 5:20.67). Shipman qualified in the 100 butterfly (sixth, 1:02.47) and 100 backstroke (10th, 1:00.93).

"I thought our swimmers did extremely well," said Eastern Wayne coach Sidney Myers. "Mason, to go without saying, was challenged in the 50. He's stronger in the 100, but came through in both events. Our relays swam strong all day.

"Melvin didn't have his strongest meet, but I expect he will do extremely well at the state meet."

On the girls' side, Aycock is taking a quartet of swimmers to the state meet.

Senior Garrett Forrest settled for runner-up honors in the 50 free, despite swimming the fastest preliminary time and knocking off nearly half a second in the finals. She swam the anchor leg on the gold medal-winning 200 relay along with Margaret Connolly, Sarah Macut and Carrigan Chastain. The same foursome took fourth in the 400 free, and will swim both events in the state finals.

Chastain qualified for the 200 free (eighth, 2:17.64) and 100 back (sixth, 1:07.99). Macut was ninth overall in the 50 free (27.15) and touched the wall 11th in the 100 free (1:02.30).

Eastern Wayne's Bailey Upchurch turned in a runner-up effort in the 100 back (1:01.95) and claimed fourth in the 100 fly (1:04.75). She swam a leg on the 200 free relay, which finished seventh in 1:54.00. Joining her were Amie Hook, Regan Stoneburner and Ashleigh Deal.

"Bailey is a competitor, a fireball," said Myers. "She did extremely well."

Deal and Stoneburner, along with Jennifer Talton and Courtney Garland, collected ninth in the 400 free relay with a time 4:17.18.

The top 12 swimmers in each event earned a trip to the state finals.

"We are tickled to death with what the kids did ... all of them," said Myers. "We were expecting strong competition and it was a good meet."