Swimmers break records; indoor track heads to State


Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer


Gavin Rinker competes at Regionals in Charlotte.

The Franklin High School (FHS) swim team was in Charlotte on Feb. 3-4 competing in the regionals level swim meet held at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center. According to coaches Dwain and Dina Picou, “It was truly a total team effort with everyone focused on swimming their best … our times dropped more than we had predicted, especially in the relays.”

All three girls’ and boys’ relay teams are going on to the State Meet which takes place Feb. 10-11 in Raleigh.

In addition to those qualifying for the next round, three new FHS school records were set. Claire Ballard broke the 50-yard (yd) freestyle of 25.22, set by Carrie Long in 2007. Ballard scored a 25.03 and medaled in third place. In the girls’ 200-yd freestyle relay, Zoi Walker, Logan Guynn, Rylee Cassada, and Ballard scored a 1:47.64 and medaled in second place. They broke the school record of 1:48:55 set in 2014. The same team also had a 4:00.93 and placed sixth in the 400-yd freestyle relay, breaking the old record of 4:03.82 set in 2010.

Individually, Zoi Walker qualified for the state meet in the girls’ 200-yd individual medley, as did Ballard, Cassada, and Clayton Guynn in the 50 free. Jonah Brant placed second in diving and also qualified for State. As a team, the girls placed seventh and the boys eighth at Charlotte. After a few more practices, State competition participants will head for Raleigh on Thursday, Feb. 9. The Panthers’ lone diver, Jonah Brant, will dive on Friday at the Pullen Aquatic Center in Raleigh. The swimming events will be held Saturday morning, Feb. 11, at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, N.C.

Indoor track State meet

Coaches Melissa Ward and Matt Harlfinger led their student athletes to the state track meet this Friday, Feb. 10. The meet will be held in Winston-Salem at the JDL FastTrack and finds 29 FHS athletes competing in 20 events. Some of the higher individual rankings entering the statewide competition are: Blake Cassada, #1 and Aaron Jennings, #2 in the pole vault; Charley Seagle, #4 in girls’ shot put; Laura Covarrubias, #3 in the long jump; Cal Drake, #4 in high jump; and, Boston Stringer, #4 in the girls’ pole vault. In team competition, the girls’ 4×200 are ranked #2 and 4×400 are ranked #3.

“Both boys’ and girls’ teams are projected to finish in the Top 3,” Harlfinger said. “I scored the meet last night (Monday, Feb. 6) and had the boys’ team in a three-way tie for first place. This will be a nail-biter through the final event and may be the most exciting athletic experience of these kids’ lives.”

It has been nearly 30 years since the Panthers have seriously competed for a title in track and field and the coaches are clearly excited for their runners. 

“Wish these kids luck as we try to shock the world on Friday,” said Harlfinger.


Three FHS women wrestlers participated at Greensboro at the Rise Indoor Sports for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A State Individual Tournament. Senior Abby Carpenter, wrestling in the 126-pound category won her first match and made it to the quarters round before losing. Her high school career ends at 34-3. Jasmin Valencia (132), after losing her first match, won two additional rounds before losing in her fourth match to finish at 27-6. Stephanie Ortiz (120) battled in two matches and finished her FHS career at 17-15.

Men’s wrestling regionals round will be held this weekend, Feb. 10-11, at North Henderson.