02/11/08 — Eastern Wayne's Chenier repeats as state champ

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Eastern Wayne's Chenier repeats as state champ

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 11, 2008 1:48 PM

RALEIGH -- Just call him a "repeat offender."

One week after posting a second consecutive double-double in regional competition, Mason Chenier accomplished a record-setting feat Saturday evening -- but on a bigger stage.

Chenier successfully defended his 50- and 100-yard freestyle state crowns in the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association swimming championships. The Eastern Wayne junior became the first-ever, four-time champion in school and Wayne County history.

"It was a pretty good day ... a lot of fun," said Chenier, whose older brother Michael won three individual 4-A titles from 1997-99. "They were not my fastest times. I wasn't shaved and tapered for the meet, so that took about half a second off my best times.

"I really can't complain, though."

Chenier touched the wall in 21.5 seconds during the 50 free. He posted a 47-second showing in the 100 free. Charlotte Catholic's Collin Thilo settled for runner-up honors in each event.

"In the 50, it was close from start to finish and on the turn," said Chenier. "At the 75 mark in the 100, I started to pull away. He was pretty quick, but I was told he is actually a distance swimmer, so he stepped out of what he normally swims.

"He gave me a run for my money."

With the double-gold performance, Chenier becomes the first county swimmer to win back-to-back events in consecutive championship appearances. Goldsboro's Chuck Darden won 4-A titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke in 1986. Chenier's sister, Megan, won the 100 fly and 100 back in 2002.

"I felt confident, but really didn't know what the west was looking like and I hadn't checked the results," said Chenier. "Once I saw that the closest time to me was 22.4 and I had been consistently going under 22, I felt pretty confident.

"But I knew it was going to be a tough race. It was a lot of fun having someone to race and push me."

Chenier helped the Warriors compile 123 team points in the day-long meet. He swam legs on the 200 medley and 200 free relays, which each finished fifth.

The Warriors' Xander Robinson grabbed seventh overall in the 200 IM and eighth in the 500 free. Teammate Matt Moulas secured 13th in the 100 breaststroke. Both swimmers participated on the 200 medley relay, while Robinson swam on the 200 free.

Southern Wayne's Phil Howell III took 12th in the 50 free.

On the women's side, Eastern Wayne's Bailey Upchurch ended up 10th in the 100 backstroke and 13th in the 200 IM.

Charles B. Aycock's 200 free relay -- Margaret Connolly, Taylor Allen, Sarah Macut and Carrigan Chastain -- recorded a ninth-place effort.

The meet was contested at the Willis Casey Aquatic Center on the N.C. State campus.