02/06/12 — C.B. Aycock's Hall crowned 1-meter diving champion

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C.B. Aycock's Hall crowned 1-meter diving champion

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 6, 2012 1:48 PM

Devin Hall adjusted the tension wheel, stepped toward the end of the diving board, turned his back to the pool and took a deep breath.

His toes turning white from clinging to the edge, Hall pushed off and barely made a splash as he entered the water. The judges flashed their scores, his teammates cheered and a smattering of applause filled the air inside the B.G. Darden Natatorium.

The Charles B. Aycock sophomore continued his consistent performance and turned in clean dives which eventually led to one of his season-long goals -- Class 3-A eastern regional 1-meter diving champion. And Hall emerged victorious despite a bum left ankle he injured while playing a pick-up game of basketball with a friend.

Hall compiled 325.80 points and defeated Chapel Hill's tandem of Alex Grosskurth and James Willingham; and Eastern Wayne's Willie Smith.

"Today was rough," said Hall, a gold medal draped around his neck. "I was rusty on my back 11/2 and one of my twists. I'm not quite as happy with it as I should be. There was a little bit more pressure, but we're all friends because I met them at regionals last year.

"It was good and I had fun with it."

Hall will defend his state championship Wednesday afternoon at the Pullen Aquatic Center on the N.C. State campus in Raleigh. The next afternoon a few of his Golden Falcon teammates will battle for N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.

Senior Bryce Connolly will compete in the girls' 100-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke after posting top-10 finishes during Saturday's regional at the Goldsboro Family Y. Savannah Sauls qualified for the 200 free and just missed advancing in the 100 free by a couple hundredths of a second.

Connolly and Sauls will also swim the 200 free and 200 medley relays along with Taylor Bradshaw and Kylie Robertson. The foursome logged top-12 times in both events.

"I really like the relays because we pump each other up and give each other advice," said Sauls. "We knew we could drop some time (in the 200 free) and we were in the last heat, so we thought we would (make states) since we had seen most of the competition all year.

"It was really intense and there were some good swimmers there."

Aycock's Sam Chastain will duel in the boys' 100 backstroke and compete on Aycock's 200 free relay that includes Demion Creel, Sam Pierce and Austin Walker. Chastain touched the wall fifth during the backstroke, while the relay took ninth in 1 minute, 39.87 seconds.

"They work hard and it's the first time, at least to my knowledge, that the boys have ever won a conference championship at Aycock and taken a relay to states," said Golden Falcons head coach Zeke Jackson. "They made a pact between themselves they wanted to go to states this year. That was the attitude they took and we worked with them to get them there. Physically, they have just peaked (at the right time)."

Southern Wayne's Chad Davis is headed to Cary, too, after qualifying in the 200 free and 100 fly. But Davis experienced a few tense minutes after competing in the 200.

The junior burned himself out during the first four laps of the 200 and turned in his best 100-yard split of the season. But when he exited the pool, Davis became sick and stepped outside the Y with his coaches.

"I got out of the pool and just sat down, which was the worst thing I could have done," said Davis. "I cramped all over, got dizzy and sick on my stomach. I went outside to cool down, walk it out and get some fluids."

Davis returned later for the 100 fly and claimed the last qualifying berth.

"I was a little worried that I wasn't going to be ready for the 100 fly," said Davis. "When that came, what I told myself was that I just want to finish. Don't worry about the time. I hit the water and got the sense that I can't just finish, I have to post a time to get to states and I managed to do it."