02/08/10 — Allen captures bronze

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Allen captures bronze

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 8, 2010 1:46 PM

The adrenaline flowed through her veins as Charles B. Aycock standout Taylor Allen churned through the clear blue water Sunday afternoon.

Would those extra-morning hours of building stamina pay off?

Yes ... indeed.

Allen captured the bronze medal in the 50-yard freestyle, placed fifth in the 100 free and swam two strong legs in relay competition during the 2010 N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A eastern regional meet at the Goldsboro Family Y.

She helped guarantee the Golden Falcons would practice in the B.G. Darden Natatorium pool one more week. Teammates Carrigan Chastain, Bryce Connolly and Nicole McGrath will join Allen in the season-ending state championship meet Friday at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.

Seeded third overall in the 50 free, Allen swam in the third timed finals heat along with eventual regional champ Mary Lawless of Northern Guilford and runner-up Anne Thelen of Cardinal Gibbons. Allen touched the wall in 25.81 seconds and felt confident she had made the top 12.

Allen seized third.

"I've been working really hard on that specific event," said Allen. "I was really surprised at how much (time) I dropped, actually. I've been coming early in the morning to work on sprint stuff and get my endurance up.

"I felt like I had qualified, but at that point I really wanted to drop as much time as possible. Two years ago, I swam a 32 in that event."

Chastain, the reigning News-Argus female swimmer-of-the-year, qualified for the state meet in the 100 backstroke and two relays -- 200 medley and 200 free. Connolly shaved three seconds off her regional-qualifying time in the 200 free and advanced to the state finals with a seventh-place effort. She also qualified in the 100 free.

Connolly, Allen and McGrath will also comprise the two relays along with Chastain.

"The endurance I think helped a lot as well as being with my team members," said Allen of the relay events. "We pump each other up and the adrenaline rush is really what gets us going. (Today's meet) was definitely harder, but it made us even more pumped to make it to states.

"It's such a big meeting and we know that everyone is watching."

On the boys' side, the day didn't begin so well for Eastern Wayne, which finished one spot (13th) out of qualifying for the state meet in the 200 medley relay.

"We were all pretty bummed about it," said Eastern Wayne senior Keith Gregorcyk. "We said 'let's forget about that one.' We were seeded ninth for the 200 (free) and said 'let's go out and do this.'"

Eastern Wayne dropped a couple of seconds and ended up eighth in the 200 free relay -- good enough for a trip to the state finals. Matt Moulas swam the opening leg, followed by Gregorcyk, Alex Lloyd and Shane Legg.

They weren't done.

The same foursome knew they had to improve upon their 14th seed in the 400 free relay -- the final event of the day.

"We had a bunch of time to make up," said Gregorcyk. "We just went all out and swam as hard as we could. (Timed finals) puts a lot more pressure on you. You want to be able to make it and it's tough knowing you have just one shot to do it."

The Warriors placed fourth in the third heat and watched as the final heat unfolded. Once the times had been recorded, Eastern Wayne coach Sidney Myers told the group they had qualified 11th overall.

The teammates traded high fives and hugs.

"We were all real happy," said Gregorcyk. "We didn't really have high expectations for this season. We decided to just go in there, swim as hard we could and see what happens. Our goal all year was just to make it to states and we did."