High school swimmers seek state championships this weekend
The biggest weekend in high school swimming begins on Friday as the state championship meets for both the South Carolina High School League and SCISA will be contested.
The SCHSL championship will be held at the USC Natatorium in Columbia. Class AAAAA swimmers compete Friday night, and the AAAA and AAA competition is Saturday.
SCISA will hold its championships Saturday morning at the Augusta Aquatics Center in Augusta, Ga., in all classifications.
There will be several local schools and athletes in contention for gold medals in both meets. In the SCISA AAA meet, Porter-Gaud is the defending state champion in both boys and girls. Both will be heavy favorites to repeat on Saturday.
Anchoring the effort in the boys meet are returning state champions Daniel Kassis and Willem Goedecke. Goedecke enters the state meet as the No. 1 seed in several events and is the defending champion in the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard freestyle.
Kassis is the defending champion in the 200-yard individual relay and the 100-yard breaststroke.
Pinewood Prep’s Connor Campbell and Daniel Grimes also will contend for gold in several events, and Burke Arrendondo is a state contender from First Baptist.
In AA boys, Palmetto Christian has three state contenders, led by Sam Biggerstaff, who is the defending champion in the 100-yard backstroke and is qualified in several events. Brad Chaney and Will Vandergrift also will compete for top honors in their respective events.
Sisters Elysse and Kaila Pardus lead a deep girls team at Porter-Gaud. Elysse Pardus is the defending state champion in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle. Kaila Pardus won gold in the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard breaststroke last season.
Other local girls who will contend in AAA SCISA include Eliza Ford, Ann Thompson and Miriam Woodhall of Porter-Gaud, Elizabeth Smith of First Baptist, and Charlotte Nathanson, Caroline Clark and Katherine Giels from Ashley Hall.
Lauren Pernell of Palmetto Christian is the AA defending champion in the 50-yard freestyle. Teammate Katie Grace Vandergrift also will be a state title contender in several events.
Bishop England is the SCHSL Class AAA defending boys state champion while Academic Magnet was the state runner-up. Academic Magnet’s girls team has won the last two AAA state championships with Bishop England finishing as the state runner-up last fall.
Leading the way for Bishop England’s boys team this season are Addie Laurencelle, Noland Griffith and Carter Rose. Academic Magnet’s state contenders include Eric Beaver, Zachary Moody, Charles Blanc and Ryan Troy.
On the girls side, Academic Magnet’s top performers include Malia Borg, Skylar Ayers and Emma Ludman. Emma Pizzo and Bella Kissell are Bishop England’s leaders this season.
No local AAAA school will contend for the team title but Sarah Mundy of Berkeley will be an individual contender in several events. Mundy was second in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events last season.
In AAAAA girls, Wando’s Callie Johnson and Gabi Reed are potential state champions, along with Fort Dorchester’s Abbie Hassell.
Wando’s boys team has a strong chance to contend in AAAAA. Leading the effort are Chase Collier, Ryan Pitts, Johnny Gush, Piotr Tarala and Noah Davey. Pitts finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard freestyle in 2016. Gush is the defending state champion in the 100-yard butterfly.
Gush, Pitts and Collier were three parts of last year’s state championship 200-yard medley relay team last season.