Finding useless chatter a waste of time, folks tend to listen when Isaiah Ivey tends to speak … even when he isn’t saying a word.
Given the opportunity to showcase his skills at Class 4A state swim meet, the Myrtle Beach senior made a statement on Saturday, one heard loud and clear.
Ivey won state titles in the boys’ 50- and 100-yard freestyle swim events, in addition to helping lead the Seahawks to a third-place finish in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. Such contributions would help the team earn third place at the meet, finishing just behind South Aiken and state champion Eastside.
Though certainly pleased with his result, he remained in character, keeping his words to a minimum.
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“No, not yet (has it sunk in that he is a state champion),” Ivey said. “Honestly, we just went with it. We didn’t really get to practice the last week before states (due to Hurricane Matthew). We just really got one big practice in, and that was it.”
Unlike many of the teams they shared the pool with, Grand Strand-area squads had little time to prepare for the state swim meet. Out of school since Oct. 5, local coaches wondered how it would affect their swimmers.
Me and the team worked really hard this season. Our goal was to win both those relays and we did, so it feels really great to accomplish a goal. You get a good feeling at the beginning of the meet, and you try to keep that feeling and today happens. It was lucky.
Waccamaw swimmer Patrick Sullivan
If there was any rust, however, swimmers greased themselves up with a fresh coat of WD-40 well ahead of their trip to the University of South Carolina Natatorium.
One of those was Waccamaw, the “little engine that could” racking up 306 points — good enough for fourth in Class 3A.
Patrick Sullivan’s presence had a lot to do with that, the Warriors’ standout claiming individual gold in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. In both of those races, he held off teammate John Grey Crosby, who earned a third and second place result, respectively.
He also was part of Waccamaw’s state title-winning 200- and 400-yard relay teams.
“Me and the team worked really hard this season. Our goal was to win both those relays and we did, so it feels really great to accomplish a goal,” he said. “You get a good feeling at the beginning of the meet, and you try to keep that feeling and today happens. It was lucky.”
Better friends than foes
When asked, Myrtle Beach’s Olivia McGonigal and St. James’ Kater Wolff will offer different answers for how many times the two have swam against each other.
Just as they have done so many times before, the two of them were back in the pool Saturday at the Class 4A state swim meet, both vying for top billing in the 100-yard backstroke event.
Last year, Wolff got the best of her McGonigal, swimming to a second-place finish. This time around, the St. James swimmer once again earned a silver medal, but Wolff’s best friend — and chief foe — did her one better.
Tapping the wall at just past the minute-mark, McGonigal bested her rival and fended off all other competitors to win a state title.
Oddly, it was exactly how the two of them imagined things would play out.
“We were seeded first and second, but there was a girl who was supposed to beat us, but… yeah,” said McGonigal.
Said Wolff: “Last year I got second and she got third, so it was kind of a switch this year. … (Our competition makes us better) but I like her to win too.”
While impressive in their own pursuit of making the medal stand, the friends found themselves in awe of how many great swimmers there were at the Class 4A level.
“Some of the people are crazy fast,” McGonigal said.
Mitchell overcomes anxiety to earn medals
Butterflies the size of eagles welling in his stomach, Casey Mitchell could not help but notice his nervousness preparing for Saturday’s Class 4A state meet.
While most would tend to cower in the face of such anxiety, the St. James swimmer instead excelled in it.
Mitchell brought home two medals, earning a silver in the 500-yard freestyle and a bronze in the 100-yard backstroke.
“I was nervous, but really wanted to do well,” he said.
Prior to each meet, Mitchell would set goals for each event with which he was to take part. For the state meet, however, his plans were more broad.
“He worked his butt off. Every single meet he sets goals for himself, and every time he has nailed those goals,” said St. James boys swim coach Niki Ferrell. “His goal was simply to place and he outdid himself. He dropped four or five seconds (in the 500-yard freestyle) and came in second. He wanted to medal in the backstroke, and was able to do that.
“It was more than we could ask for, and he was so proud of himself.”
Such success already has Mitchell looking forward to next season.
“It feels really good,” he said. “I can’t wait for next year, and can’t wait to improve. That’s the way I want to close out every year.”
Carolina Forest posts solid outing
Medal counts aren’t necessarily an indicator of a team’s success.
Though no Carolina Forest swimmers made a trip to the medal stand Friday night at the Class 5A state swim meet, the squad left Columbia with new school records and a wealth of confidence heading into the offseason.
Taylor Steele continued to take on a lead role for the Panthers, swimming to a fourth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. In doing so, she broke her own school record by posting a time of 1:07.62.
She also placed 10th in the 200-yard individual medley, just missing out on setting another program high-mark.
Making her debut at the state meet, Peyton McWhorter placed 16th in the 200-yard freestyle and 19th in the 500-yard freestyle event. Ethan Nechemia — also a first-time debutant — placed 29th in the 500-yard freestyle.
The girls’ 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay teams also smashed previous bests, finishing ninth and 17th among all teams at the Class 5A level, respectively.
Like all senior athletes should, St. James swimmer Max Wolff ended his prep career on high note.
Given the opportunity to take the podium, S.C. High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton placed a medal around his neck, symbolizing his effort and commitment as a member of the Sharks swim team.
Wolff swam the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events during Saturday’s Class 4A swim meet.