SMITHFIELD -- Clayton swim coach Marty Ringgold knew it would take a special effort to knock off Garner’s boys swim team for the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference title. The Comets came through with just that kind of performance.
Every swimmer in the Clayton lineup scored during the meet at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center, leading to a 546-point total, 61 ahead of Garner.
Clayton won nine events in the girls meet, rolling to top team honors there as well. Just like in the boys division, Garner took second.
The Comets’ boys team was in a 51-point hole after the diving portion of the championships, a deficit Ringgold thought might be too tough to overcome.
“We were in a spot, but we came up with a lot of points, which is the strength of our team,” Ringgold said. “We’ve gotten points up and down the line. We helped ourselves today with those eighth, ninth and 10th place finishes in a lot of events. And everybody on the team scored, which is a first for us. That’s the ultimate sign of a winning team effort.”
The conference championship is the sixth straight for Clayton’s boys team, which doesn’t include any year-round swimmers.
Clayton had only two event boys wins: the 200-yard medley relay with Paul Frantz, Johann Quintero, Brett Bailey and Alex Duff and Quinterro’s triumph in the individual medley in 2:22.7.
Ringgold praised Bailey’s leg in the relay where he made up a 15-yard deficit and put his team in the lead by about the same amount after his 50-yard swim.
Colton Lippert gave a similar effort in the 50 free, cutting three seconds off of his previous best time to finish fifth.
The Comets won all of the girls relay events: the 200-yard medley in 2:04.69, the 200 free in 1:52.13 and the 400 free in 4:10.03.
Clayton freshman standouts Dominique Quintero, Gina Joy and Katie Simpson all won a pair of individual events and swam on two relays apiece.
Quintero won the 100 in 55.86 and also prevailed in the breaststroke (1:10.84). She was on the medley and 200 free relays.
Joy swam on both freestyle relays, while winning the 200 free individual title (2:13.51) and the 500 free (5:48.55). Simpson was worked the first leg of the 200 medley relay and the anchor leg in the 400. She was the league champion in the individual medley (2:25.82) and the backstroke (1:09.26).
Meribeth Lambert and Analeese Theys rounded out the 200 medley lineup for the Comets, while Theys and Katherine Boumenot were on the 200 and 400 relays.
“The strength of our girls team is our leading swimmers,” Ringgold said. “And those ladies performed as expected. And we had some other swimmers step up. Going 1-2-3 in the butterfly was a big boost.”
Gabrielle Trasti was the runner up in the butterfly, while Kim Russell took third. Chelsey Neptune finished second in the 200 free and Theys took the runner-up spot in the individual medley for Clayton’s girls team, which has only one senior on the roster.