Cleveland's girls swimming team won the Eastern Carolina 3A Conference championship, topping runner-up C.B. Aycock, 136-110.
GOLDSBORO -- First-year Cleveland swimming coach Amy Pierce-Reas made it very easy for her swimmers to target a goal before the Rams’ first Eastern Carolina 3A Conference meet this season.
There on a wall were posters, each with a different event listed at the top and a completely blank slate below. She told each swimmer to pick their events and put a target time for the season: their ultimate goal.
The Rams treated the exercise like the did everything else Pierce-Reas came up with this season – they took right to it.
The end result of all that work came up Tuesday for the Rams’ girls team who won the Eastern Carolina 3A Conference championship at the Goldsboro YMCA, the first swimming title in school history. Cleveland totaled 136 points in the meet, 26 more than C.B. Aycock.
“The girls have worked really hard,” Pierce-Reas said. “We’ve tried to just build on what was started here, this being my first year. We’ve increased our yardage in practice, the speed of our workouts and done a lot of stroke technique.”
Co-captain March Petzinger had the Rams’ two individual wins – the 50- and 100-yard frees - and anchored the winning 200 free relay quartet. Petzinger took the 50 in 2758 seconds and the 100 in 1:00.78.
Captain Katie Griffin led that 200 free relay group and was on the runner-up 200 medley relay squad with Petzinger was third in the 200 individual medley. Brianna Traynor and Amber Reese were on the winning (1:58.01) medley relay team as well. Griffin was third in the 200 IM, just ahead of Traynor.
The Rams had their share of top-five girls finishes as well, which helped propel them to the league championship.
“So many of our younger girls have stepped up too,” Pierce-Reas said. “It’s very exciting for our future. We’ve added a few more swimmers this year and everybody has worked really hard to move up another level from where they were at last year.”
Reese was second in the butterfly at 1:17.5, while Griffin took fourth. Traynor was fourth in the 100 free.
Second place finishes went to Amanda Smith in the 200 and 500 frees for Cleveland. Reese swam third in the backstroke, while Rachel Quinn did the same in the 50 free and was fourth in the backstroke.
The Rams also had a runner-up finish in the 400 free relay with Reese, Byrd, Smith and Quinn in 4:54.66.
The Rams’ Ashley Byrd finished fourth in the breaststroke.
The next step for Cleveland is qualifying more swimmers for regionals. The Rams have only one automatic qualifier set, although several swimmers could advance to regionals based on the ranking of their times.
Patrick Martin, the league champion in the butterfly, is an automatic qualifier. He swam the butterfly in 1:01.04 during the conference championships. Martin placed second in the individual medley.
The Rams’ boys 200 free relay finished third with Martin, Paul Johnson, Shoen Fife and Will Hall.
Paul Johnson of Cleveland was third in the 100 free and fourth in the 50 free.