After winning the 3A Central Regional championship earlier this year, Orange’s Katie Belle Sikes has already qualified to defend her title in the 50 yard freestyle.

The only difference is this time she got to do it in a bona fide swimming meet.

Last week at the Orange County SportsPlex, Sikes qualified for the 3A Central Regionals in four different events during a meet that included Cedar Ridge and Eastern Alamance.

Last February, Sikes finished 2nd in the 50 yard freestyle at the 3A State Championships in Raleigh. She won the Central Regional championship in the same event. However, during the pandemic, Sikes didn’t get to experience a standard meet with other competitors beside her because of the pandemic. She competed only against the clock while adjacent lanes remained empty. Often she was the only person in the pool.

In the meet on November 22, Orange women’s swimming team defeated Cedar Ridge 83-60. The Eastern Alamance women’s team defeated Orange 85-72.

Sikes won the 50 yard freestyle in 23.60 seconds. Cedar Ridge freshman Sophia Stinnett finished second and also qualified for regionals at 26.06.

Stinnett won the 100 yard backstroke, qualifying for regionals at 1:07.66

Sikes also won the 100 yard freestyle at 52.82, easily ahead of the regional qualifying time of 1:00.99.

Orange senior Melissa Campbell qualified for regionals in four separate events, as well. Campbell teamed with Sikes, Sandra McCouch and junior Ellie Wileman to win the 200 yard medley relay at 1:59.67. Individually, Campbell won the 200 yard freestyle with a time of 2:17.48. Campbell also capture the 100 yard butterfly at 1:07.26, beating the qualifying time by two full seconds.

In the 400 yard freestyle relay, Campbell teamed with Sikes, McCouch and Wileman to automatically qualify at 4:08.69. Cedar Ridge’s team of Stinnett, Quinn McCrimmon, Claire Kimball and Abbygale Pearce finished third and also earned a spot in regionals.

In the men’s meets, Orange defeated Eastern Alamance 96-65, and also topped Cedar Ridge 89-63.

Cedar Ridge freshman Matthew Czar qualified for the regionals in the 200 yard freestyle, along with two other events. In his first high school race, Czar finished first as he touched the wall at 2:01.40, narrowly beating Orange’s Nick Baczara by two-tenths of-a-second.

Another Cedar Ridge freshman, Alexander Hill, earned a bid for regionals in four different events. In the 200 yard intermediate, Hill finished first at 2:08.02. Also in the 200 yard, Orange’s Roman finished second at 2:10.83, while Phillips came in third. Roman and Phillips also qualified for regionals.

Hill also won the 500 yard freestyle at 5:09.28. Roman also qualified for regionals with a second place finish, touching the wall at 5:11.90.

Cedar Ridge’s 200 yard freestyle relay team of Hill, Czar, Nikhil Agans and Jason Pattison came in first at 1:41.56. The automatic regional qualifying time was 1:43.49.

Orange’s 200 yard medley relay team of senior Ian Moore, junior Evan Phillips, freshman Alexander Andre and freshman Luke Roman won the event at 1:48.08, also earning a trip to Greensboro for regionals. In the 400 yard freestyle relay, Roman, Phillips, Nick Bazara and Andre also finished first at 3:38.21, ahead of the qualifying time. Cedar Ridge’s Hill, Czar, Pattison and Agans finished second at 3:47.61.

Phillips also qualified for regionals in the 100 yard breastroke at 1:08.85.

While falling short of an automatic regional qualifying time, Orange’s Sandra McCouch won the 100 yard breaststroke at 1:18.64.

In the men’s 100 yard backstroke, Orange’s Moore finished 1st at 1:02.56, while the Panthers’ Andrew Weeks came in second with a time of 1:09.20.

Cedar Ridge’s Pattison won the 100 yard freestyle at 1:03.55. The Red Wolves’ Agans, a sophomore, won the 50 yard freestyle.

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