By RYAN HERMAN
Lincoln Charter School has its eyes set on some more state swimming and diving hardware, and it has enough participants that the odds are in its favor.
The Eagles will send three boys and girls relay teams, four male individuals and seven female individuals to the NCHSAA state swimming and diving championships, which begin today.
The diving portion will be held at 3 p.m. today at the Pullen Aquatic Center in Raleigh, and the 1A/2A swimming championships will be held all day Thursday at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.
Lincoln Charter’s girls swim team won the regional title this year and finished third in the state finals last season, and its boys came in 11th.
“This season has been pretty close to what I expected for us,” Eagles co-coach Josh Williams said in an email to the Lincoln Times-News.
Returning to defend her state title in the 50-yard freestyle is sophomore Christina Lappin. She won the event in 23.76 seconds last season as one of her two championships. She also won the 100-yard butterfly, but won’t be competing in that event this season. Instead, she’s competing in the 200-yard freestyle.
Lappin has made a comeback after a summer lake accident left her with a broken wrist, Williams said.
“It’s amazing to see how she responded to rehab and has not missed a beat,” Williams said.
Also back in the championships after recovering from an injury is Sophia Bhalla.
Bhalla, a junior, will take part in the 200-medley, 200-freestyle and 400-freestyle relays, as well as the 100-freestyle individually.
“We were very blessed to have Sophia be able to compete as an added bonus this season,” Williams said. “She had a nagging injury from rowing and was not really able to compete or train until January.”
One of the males Williams said he expects big results from on Thursday is Mitchell Harwood, who will compete in the 50-freestyle and 100-freestyle events.
“(Harwood) has transformed from a very good swimmer to a true contender for a state crown in the 50-free this season,” Williams said.
To qualify for the state finals an individual or relay team must finish in the top 12. Lincoln Charter had a total of six teams or individuals win regional championships, including all three girls relay teams: girls 200-medley relay (Shelby Smith, Kyndall Morrow, Lappin, Bhalla), girls 200-freestyle (Lappin), girls 50-freestyle (Lappin), boys 50-freestyle (Harwood), girls 200-freestyle relay (Bhalla, Taylor Harkey, Morrow, Lappin) and girls 400-freestyle relay (Harkey, Smith, Mara Bhalla, Sophia Bhalla).
Morrow, a sophomore, will be on two relay teams and will also compete in the 100-freestyle and the 100-breastroke.
“Kyndall has done nothing less than impress me at every meet,” Williams said. “I have never coached an athlete quite like her in that she is a true athlete in every sense of the word … an amazing runner as well.”
Also competing in this week’s state finals are:
Boys –– Taylor Powell (100-breastroke, 100-individual medley), Reece Hodges (100-freestyle), Andrew Lappin (1-meter diving), 200-medley relay (Tyler McCutchan, Powell, Harwood, Dillon Carey), 200-freestyle relay (Carey, Hodges, Powell, Harwood), 400-freestyle relay (Hodges, Lucas Haskins, Lappin, Carey).
Girls –– Mara Bhalla (200-freestyle, 500-freestyle), Smith (100-breastroke, 200-individual medley), Taylor Harkey (50-freestyle, 100-freestyle), Laurel Roser (1-meter diving).
No other Lincoln County teams reported having anyone qualify for the state finals to the LTN.