Hobbs, Chenier return home with gold medals
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 16, 2009 2:42 PM
CHAPEL HILL -- Worried about warm-ups, a low regional score and intimidated by the competition, Collin Hobbs overcame his nerves once he completed his first dive.
From there, the Eastern Wayne sophomore cruised.
Hobbs posted a meet-high 316.5 points and claimed the 1-meter state diving crown during the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A swimming championships. He became just the sixth individual state champ in Wayne County history and fourth in Eastern Wayne's illustrious program.
But Hobbs wasn't the only Warrior to wear gold at Koury Natatorium on the University of North Carolina campus this weekend. Teammate Mason Chenier successfully defended his 50- and 100-free titles, giving him an unprecedented -- and county record -- six state championships.
"He's very motivating," Hobbs said of Chenier. "He's just really good in the pool and he shows good support for the rest of the team. He's an overall good guy."
Hobbs drew the No. 4 seed against three Asheville swimmers. He struggled during warm-ups and wondered if he could overcome a sluggish performance from the regionals.
"I was worried about how the meet was going to go," said Hobbs. "I saw that the other guys were pretty good and I just had to step up. After the first dive, I felt like I had it from there.
"I knew I was going to do well."
Working with an array of dives, Hobbs abandoned his forward 1 1/2 somersault and pulled out three difficult routines. He completed an inward 1 1/2, a reverse 1 1/2 and back 1 1/2. All three dives received quality scores from the judges.
"It was the first time I've ever done any of those in a meet," said Hobbs. "I knew I had the meet after that because I nailed them. They were the highest difficulty degree of dives of anybody else at the meet."
Hobbs defeated runner-up Patrick Bohen by 78.4 points.
Before Hobbs recorded his state-championship effort on the 1-meter scene, former Warriors standout Steven Barnes owned the best finish -- a sixth-place effort -- in the state meet during the 1993 NCHSAA 4-A Championships. Scott LaFevers was also a two-time participant in 1993-94 and 94-95, while Corey Craft was a three-time state qualifier from 1992-95 on the girls' side.
"It's just now starting to sink in," said Hobbs. "I can't wait to get to school on Monday and see what everyone says. I am just really excited."
Chenier helped Eastern Wayne post a sixth-place finish in the team competition with 132 points. He swam legs on the 200 medley and 200 free relays, which each logged seventh-place times.
Chenier claimed the 50 free title with a half-second victory over Jacob Wright of Marvin Ridge. He returned later in the day to edge F.T. Foard's Rick Smith by .67 seconds in the 100 free.
Xander Robinson posted a fourth-place time in the 500 free and took ninth overall in the 200 IM. He participated on both relays along with Matt Moulas and Alex Lloyd.
Southern Wayne's Phil Howell III emerged ninth in the 50 free.
Teammates Carrigan Chastain and Taylor Allen guided Charles B. Aycock to a 24th-place performance in the girls' portion of the competition. Chastain grabbed 11th place in the 100 backstroke and 14th in the 200 free.
Allen was 13th in the 50 free.
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