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After watching rival Hickory sweep the first-ever all-county swim meet last year, St. Stephens made the best of its second chance.
The Indians, who were girls runners-up and third in boys competition last year, took both titles at the second Catawba County swimming championships Tuesday at the Hickory Foundation YMCA.
The performance came as a surprise to their coach.
â€śWe didnâ€™t think we had won the girls, and we didnâ€™t think we had a shot with the boys title at all,â€ť said Indians coach LeeAnn Privett. â€śThey just swam really well. We werenâ€™t expecting this.â€ť
A couple of solid performances led St. Stephensâ€™ girls squad.
Marinela Procopii won both the 100-yard butterfly and breaststroke events.
Jessica Burgess also won one of the closest races of the evening, edging Hickoryâ€™s Samantha Merta by .19 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The girls quartet of Katie Knecht, Nanami Miyazaki, Burgess and Procopii also claimed the 200-yard medley relay.
â€śItâ€™s a team effort,â€ť Burgess said. â€śEveryone helps each other out. This year, our attitudes are really put well together.â€ť
On the boys side, the Indiansâ€™ Sava Turcanu dominated the freestyle events, winning the 200-yard and 500-yard races.
Sami Alkoutami also won the 100-yard butterfly, while the boys 400-yard freestyle relay team took top honors.
â€śThe big thing about this year is our freshman are stepping up,â€ť Alkoutami said. â€śThey are winning those middle places and adding points. We have a couple of club swimmers, as well, so they are getting those top spots, too.â€ť
One of the most competitive races of the night came in the girls 500-yard freestyle event.
The race pitted friends and rivals Leah Watts, of Fred T. Foard, against Hickoryâ€™s Janie Kennedy.
Watts, who won the girls 200-yard individual medley, edged Kennedy in the 500-yard freestyle by .88 seconds.
â€śMe and Janie have known each other a long time,â€ť Watts said. â€śWe knew it was going to be a race. I kept my eye out for her the whole time. It turned out to be exciting. We gave everyone a good show.â€ť
Fred T. Foard finished second in the boys and third in the girls final, while Hickory took second place in girls competition and third in boys.
As for what the result of Tuesdayâ€™s meet does for her team, Privett said the victory is definitely a confidence booster moving forward.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to get set for conference,â€ť she said. â€śThe girls won conference last year. We didnâ€™t have enough boys to even come close to winning conference last year. Itâ€™s a good boost for them to feel better about what is going on.â€ť
1. St. Stephens, 213
2. Fred T. Foard, 193
3. Hickory, 188
4. Newton-Conover, 147
5. Maiden, 102
6. Bandys, 88
1. St. Stephens, 210
2. Hickory, 205
3. Fred T. Foard, 195
4. Maiden, 107
5. Newton-Conover, 106
6. Bandys, 104