Black Knights rule the pool

North Davidson’s Savannah Johnston swims in the girls 500-yard freestyle event during the Davidson County Championship Meet on Thursday at Winston-Salem State. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

WINSTON-SALEM | North Davidson’s boys just needed to avoid a disqualification in the 400 free relay to claim the Davidson County swimming championship Thursday at the Gaines Center on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.

They did way better than that.

The Knights finished second in the relay, behind Lexington, to hang on for a tough victory in the boys’ meet. North finished with 280 points, just ahead of Central Davidson (248), West Davidson (223), Lexington (187), Ledford (175), and South Davidson (2).

There was no such drama in the girls’ meet, as North placed multiple finishers in the top eight in most events en route to an easy victory. The Knights finished with 357 points, nearly doubling Central (190) and running away from Ledford (182), West Davidson (169), Lexington (128), East Davidson (92), and South Davidson (78).

North junior Sam Day, who won the 200 IM and 100 butterfly and anchored the 200 free relay team that finished second, was glad to get a little push from the other teams. “We never could break away enough to feel really comfortable,” Day said. “So we were always going 110 percent the entire way.”

North coach Brian Wells was somewhat surprised his team repeated its victory from last season. “Our guys are in a rebuilding,” Wells said. “We only really lost one from last year, but we’re really trying to figure out the pieces.”

Most of the pieces fell into place quite nicely for the Knights. North placed three in the top eight of the 200 free before Day’s win in the 200 IM, then three more in the top eight in the 50 free. Day followed with a victory in the 100 fly, and three more Knights filled the top eight in the 100 free. Even though they only had two wins at that juncture, the points were starting to pile up. Then the team of Matthew Warrick, Jadd Smith, Bradley Decker and Dylan Holmes won the 200 free relay, and three Knights placed in the top six in the 100 back.

North held a 30-point lead heading into the meet’s final event, the 400 free relay. The first place finisher receives 32 points, but seventh is good for 14 points. That made for an easy goal for North’s final relay. “Swim it clean, and swim it fast,” Day said. “Coach came before the race and said he thinks if we don’t get DQ’d we’ve got this.

“We made sure we swam it safe, and got the exchanges right.”

Lexington’s 200 medley relay team of Cole Riggan, Griffin Gray, Adam Wetherell and Patrick Dezego won the 200 medley relay, Wetherell won the 200 free and 100 breast, Riggan won the 100 free and 100 back, and Gray, Dezego, Riggan and Wetherell won the 400 free relay.

West’s Alex Van Der Linden won the 50 free.

Lucas Rhodes won the 500 free in dominating fashion for Central, finishing nearly 20 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

North’s girls, who are loaded with underclassmen, were simply loaded. While the Knights only won three events, they used a steady dose of placers to pull out a dominating performance.

“We felt really good, our team is really strong this year,” Savannah Johnston said. “We just wanted to keep on with our tradition of winning this meet.

“I’m so excited for our team. We have a lot of freshmen, and they got up on the podium; it was great.”

North set the tone by winning the first event of the meet, the 200 medley relay. The team of Heather Coppley, Madison Wooten, Johnston and Rachel Greene edged Ledford by one second, and the Knights never slowed down from there. Despite standout individual performances from East Davidson’s Marina Moore and South Davidson’s Haylie Moore, North stockpiled points in nearly every event to cruise to the team victory.

North finished 2, 3 and 4 in the 200 free behind West Davidson’s Grace Baird, then took second and third behind Haylie Moore in the 200 IM. The Knights had four of the top eight in the 50 free, and no one had a legitimate chance to catch up.

Kaylyn Vaughan helped pad the lead with a win in the 100 free, then the team of Haley Pace, Hailey Cole, Bridgette Bonnette and Olivia Henderson won the 200 free relay. The Knights added an exclamation point when Greene, Vaughan, Wooten and Johnston won the final event, the 400 free relay.

Baird added a win for West in the 100 free. Marina Moore won the 50 free and 100 breast for East.

Haylie Moore also won the 100 fly for South. Ledford’s Caroline Klemme won the 100 back.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or