FHS swimming and wrestling teams heading to regional tournaments


Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer

FHS girls swim team shows off their Mountain Seven Conference Championship plaque. Pictured ( front row, L-R) Callie Roper, Zoi Walker; (back row, L-R) McKayla Holland, Brooke Borgmann, Rylee Cassada, Kate Phillips, Emma Worley, Claire Ballard, Logan Guynn and Taylor Moss.
FHS swimmers compete in 100 yard butterfly event January 21 at Waynesville
FHS Senior Callie Roper poses with swim coaches Dwain Picou, Callie Roper and Dina Picou.

Head swim coaches Dwain and Dina Picou have been with Franklin High School

(FHS) many years – and with swimming programs in general, even longer. On Saturday, Jan. 21, they guided FHS swim teams to another Mountain 7 Conference championship. 

In addition to Smoky Mountain, West Henderson, Tuscola, and Pisgah swimmers, the Panthers competed in 22 events as part of the meet. In team competition, Franklin took first place overall with 757 points and West Henderson came in second at 366 points,

FHS girls compete in Mountain 7 Conference swim meet January 21 at Waynesville

followed by Tuscola, Smoky Mountain, and Pisgah. While the coaches pointed out that relay events are key to overall team scores, there were some standout individual performances

also. Junior Jose Gomez won the 100-yard (yd) freestyle; fellow junior Natalie Ballard won the 500-yd freestyle; senior Clayton Guynn finished first in the 100-yd breaststroke; and, junior Rylee Cassada finished first in the 50-yd freestyle.

Qualification for swimming events falls into two categories: Automatic and consideration. Like it sounds, if a time falls at or below the “auto” threshold, a swimmer moves onto the next level, be it conference, regional, or state levels. Falling into the “consideration” category allows for selection to advance but does not guarantee it. 

Next up, FHS moves to the swimming regionals competition, held at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center in Charlotte, Feb. 3 and 4.


Senior Abby Carpenter was named FHS Athlete of the Month for January. While the conference only recognized women’s wrestling this year, Carpenter has wrestled nearly two full seasons. Over the past two years her record is 29-1 and she currently has 26 straight wins. After winning again in the Carolina Women’s Showcase (CWS) Jan. 21, Carpenter has placed first in six different tournaments this year and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler back-to-back at two recent meets. 

In addition to Carpenter, who wrestled in the 126-weight category, senior Jasmin Valencia, (132 weight category) placed second with 22 team points at the CWS. On the men’s side, FHS competed in the conference tournament at East Henderson, also on Jan. 21. Senior Chase Browning, wrestling in the 152 category, placed second and scored 16 team points. At 195 weight, sophomore Josh McGaha also placed second, with 18 team points. Rounding out the scoring, senior Nathaniel Diaz, wrestling at 220, placed fourth and gained 11 team points.

Next up for the Lady Panthers is the N.C. High School Athletic Association Women’s Regionals Individual Tournament, set for Thursday, Jan. 26, at 5 p.m. The tournament will be held at North Henderson in Hendersonville.