PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Lady Eagles took first place in the conference swim meet, and Surry Central’s Dara Kowalcik was named coach of the year.
Central topped West Stokes by 23 points for first place in the Western Piedmont Conference Championship, hosted by Forbush at the Armfield Civic Center over the weekend.
Central was first for girls and fifth for boys. North Surry was third for boys and fifth for girls.
Boys final scores were: West Stokes 182; Forbush 156; North Surry 67; South Stokes 42; Surry Central 35.
Girls final scores were: Surry Central 157; West Stokes 134; Forbush 108; South Stokes 43; North Surry 40.
After the long swim meet concluded, the conference announced that Central’s Katelyn Southard was the tournament’s most outstanding girls swimmer. Austin Dabb won the boys’ award for Forbush.
Southard collected four golds on the day. The sophomore won the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle on her own. Then she was the final leg of two relay teams that won.
She won the 200-yard medley relay with Madison Robertson, Christine Hawks and Haley Stanley. The 200-yard freestyle relay win came with Hawks, Robertson and Kaitlin Kidd.
Southard’s teammates didn’t do too badly, either.
Robertson beat out teammate Mckenzie Reaves for first place in the 100-yard backstroke. And she was second in the 50-yard freestyle to West Stokes’ Laura Pulliam.
Hawks won the 100-yard butterfly with teammate Amelia Walsh in second. Hawks also finished second in the 200-yard individual medley.
Kidd, also a volleyball standout, was second in the 100-yard freestyle to West Stokes’ Katherine Glenney. She was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and was part of the 400-yard freestyle relay team that finished third.
Stanley was second in the 100-yard breaststroke, third in the 200-yard individual medley and was part of the 400-yard relay team.
While Kowalcik was honored as coach of the year for the girls, the boys’ coach of the year award went to West Stokes’ Marie Plummer.
Of her award, Kowalcik said, “I was shocked. Every time it is mentioned I still cry. Every coach out there is a class act.”
Team fans and supporters packed the center with shouts of support as officials with timers and watchful eyes hustled to record each swimmer’s finish from five high schools in 22 events.
Coaches encouraged and coaxed the best out of the swimmers for hours as they mounted platforms in a tense moment before an event’s beginning or during the final stretch of a finish. Several swimmers showed incredible leadership when asked to swim new events during strategic moments.
Kowalcik said her team did what it needed to do with every one of them performing better than what was expected. She said they are one of the “sweetest” she had coached but also “intense.”
In particular, Surry Central girls had great performances by Haley Stanley, Madison Robertson, Christine Hawks, Kaitlin Kidd and Katelyn Southard. Also good finishes were put in by McKenzie Reaves, Amelia Walsh, Laura Dobbins and Belle Brendle, said Kowalcik.
The Forbush Falcons entered into the new 2A conference this season with a roster of 23. Some of the larger teams have as many as 27 to 28. Surry Central’s boys team swam with only eight on the roster and did the best they could, said Kowalcik.
Golden Eagle senior Oz Secundino joined the team a year ago just learning to swim and in a short time came a long way, said Kowalcik.
The other senior, Nate Blevins, swam the 100 fly for Central, one of hardest events.
“All the kids love him,” added Kowalcik.
In addition, Kowalcik said Jared Hembree and Wesley Wood did well in the finish. She expects next year’s team to be bigger, she said.
For North Surry, Caleb Cockerham posted the best finishes of the day. He came in third in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.
Ryan Singleton was fourth in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 individual medley.
Bryan Martin was fifth in the 100 breaststroke.
Gray Sadler was sixth in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 200 freestyle. Cameron Shore was sixth for the 100 butterfly.
For the girls, Courtney Wiles was sixth in the 100 butterfly and was seventh in the 500 freestyle, just behind teammate Jessie Albright.
Katlyn Hodges had two top-10 finishes: seventh in the 100 breaststroke and ninth in the 200 individual medley.
Aubrey Hall was seventh in the 100 backstroke, with teammate Emma Cassell ninth.