Twenty swimmers (13 girls and seven boys) and three coaches pulled out of Tuscola as the snow fell on the morning of Friday, Jan. 31 and headed to Charlotte for the NCHSAA 3A Western Regional Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Lady Mountaineers (Zoe Mina, Ella Laursen, Abigail Jones and Hannah Wells) started off the meet in the first event, finishing the 200-yard medley relay in 2:20.99 for 24th place. While not a season-best time, it was a great effort for the four sophomores who were all competing in their second consecutive West Regional meet.
The Mountaineer men (Carson Keeling, Colin Mooney, Luke Mina and Dylan Lunsik) followed, swimming a 1:53.93 for 18th place, a little more than a second from their season best time in the 200 MR.
Freshman Dylan Lunsik was up next in the 200-yard freestyle. Seeded 13th with a season-best time of 1:54.94 and swimming in the second of three heats, Lunsik electrified the capacity crowd by not only winning the heat, but swimming a time of 1:48.90 for a fifth-place overall finish and punching his ticket to the 3A State Championship meet in Cary Saturday. He lowered his season best time by a whopping 6 seconds.
Luke Mina was next on the blocks for the 50-yard freestyle, swimming in the second of three heats and placing 23rd overall in a time of 24.60, just over a half second from his season-best time of 24.03.
Following a break, Lunsik and Mina swam in adjacent lanes in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing 10th and 17th overall, respectively. Lunsik swam a season-best time of 56.08, dropping over a second and Mina was just about a second away from his season best. He still remains the Mina household record holder in this event and concludes his outstanding swimming career at Tuscola with his name in the record books as a member of the 4 X 200-yard freestyle relay team that holds the school record of 1:32.65 set in February of 2018.
The women’s 200-yard freestyle relay was next up, with four seniors representing the Mountaineers in their final swims for Tuscola. Sarah Clarke led off with a 30.63, a PR by 3 seconds. Clarke was followed by Melissa Dellinger and Cassie Todtenhagen, who swam a 2+ second PR leg. Emma Johnson anchored in 32.33, a PR for her as well and an overall team time of 2:15.22 for 24th place overall. The Mountaineer men followed with Carson Keeling leading off in 26.02, a 50 free PR. Randall Clausen was next, followed by Andrew Delbene with John McCrory bringing in the anchor leg for a team time of 1:52.56 and 22nd place overall. Both Delbene and McCrory swam PR times for their 50 free legs.
The last events of the meet and for the team was the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Lady Mountaineers were represented by freshmen Payton Thompson, Lydia Jackson, Eva Rinker, McKenna Ezell and alternate Emily Ferguson. All four swam at or under their season PR’s for the 100 free with Ezell dropping a full three seconds in the last event of the season, an outstanding way to finish her first year of competitive swimming! The ladies finished 28th overall in a time of 4:50.36, which is exactly the goal time that the coaches had set for this group before the meet.
The Mountaineer men closed out the meet on a very positive note, swimming a season best time of 3:40.64 for a 14th-place finish. Keeling led off with a 57.83, exceeding his season best time by over 2 seconds. Luke Mina followed with a 55.80, just .09 off his season best. Colin Mooney swam a 57.48 and Lunsik anchored with a 49.53, exceeding his season best by three seconds. The team time was an eight-second drop from their season best.
As a team, the Mountaineers scored 27 points to place 19th overall. Points are awarded for the first 16 places in championship meets.
With the exception of Lunsik, who will be swimming next weekend in the 3A State Championship in Cary, this concludes the season 2019-2020 for the Mountaineers.