Panthers swimmers poised for more title runs

by Andrew Stark

The Providence High School boys swimming and diving team wrapped up its 12th consecutive regular-season Southwestern 4A conference title on Jan. 6.

The Panthers, who have won the past two Class 4A state titles, will begin another postseason run at the conference championship meet on Saturday, Jan 21 at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. The 4A Western Regional meet is Feb. 4 at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic Center, and the state championships will be held Feb. 11 at Cary’s Triangle Aquatic Center. The diving portion of each meet begins a day earlier.

“(Winning the regular season) was a huge goal for us all year,” Providence coach Sandy Martin said. “We try not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but now we have checked one goal off of our list. The list will be complete with a state championship.”

Junior Kyle Darmody and seniors Ryan Wilkinson and Kevin Glenn each won four events at the regular-season finale and will be keys for the Panthers. Martin said sophomores Zach Cox and Pierce Bradshaw and juniors Austin Snyder, Tyler Clem and John Ferretti will also play huge roles if Providence is to repeat as state titlists.

The Providence seniors have lost only one meet in their careers: a three-point loss to North Mecklenburg in the 2009 state finals when they were freshman. Martin said they are determined to end their careers with another championship.

“There is some pressure to come through, but they know what they have to do,” she said. “The boys have won the last two years, and they know they don’t get another chance. They are focused.”

The Providence girls team had won 19 consecutive regular-season titles before falling to Ardrey Kell in each of the last two years. They are hoping their strong diving team, whose points don’t count during the regular season but do during the postseason meets, will get them over the hump.

“Our girls and Ardrey Kell is a huge rivalry,” Martin said. “It is not an ugly thing, but we would love to knock them off. With our divers, and if we can improve a little in our relays, we have a good chance to be right with them.”

Aside from the divers, the Panthers will need freshman Mary Weinstein and Caroline Maxey to have big performances. They’ll also count on their relay teams, which count double points in the postseason meets, to come up big.

“Our girls were really disappointed after losing (the regular-season meet), and they are really looking for a chance to redeem themselves,” Martin said. “We will need everyone to step up to have a chance, but we will certainly be prepared and ready for our shot at them.”

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