In a snow-shortened 2009-10 season, the Briar Woods girls broke through for their first AA Dulles District title and capped a season of firsts with a fourth-place finish at the Virginia A-AA state meet.
Despite graduating several key seniors from that squad, this year’s Falcons picked up right where they left off and, following Friday’s win over Loudoun County, are a perfect 3-0 to start the season.
The Briar Woods girls cruised past the Raiders 208-78 at Ida Lee RECenter and have now won all three of their meets by more than 100 points. And on the boys’ side, the Falcons continued to bounce back from a season-opening loss to Broad Run by edging Loudoun County 149-137 for a second straight win.
The Falcons’ girls swept all 11 events in the meet and had multiple state qualifying times in each. So far this season, they’ve qualified at least one swimmer in every event other than the 100 breast – where their top swimmer is a mere half-second off the pace.
“From start to finish, they dominated every event,” first-year coach Eric Bateman said. “Individually the girls have been working to achieve personal best times in every event and they’ve really done well to this point.”
Sophomore Caleigh Hensley and sisters Alli (junior) and Kristin (sophomore) Haufler continued their dominance this season, winning each of their respective events — including relays — in state qualifying times. The three Falcons are undefeated on the season and have notched state qualifying times in every event they’ve swum the winter.
Friday, Kristin took first in the 100 (57.92) and 200 free (2:03.15), Alli swept the 200 IM (2:19.53) and 100 fly (1:00.68) and Hensley won the 50 free (25.87) and 100 back (1:05.03). Freshman Caitlyn Brown placed first in the 500 free (5:40.88) and teamed with Hensley and the Haufler sisters to win the 200 medley relay (1:59.79). Hensley, both Hauflers and freshman Erica Comm took the 200 free relay in 1:46.69, and Comm, Brown, Veronica Smith and sophomore Elizabeth Mittan won the 400 free relay (4:08.12) by more than 14 seconds. Mittan also won the 100 breast (1:16.05), just edging out Loudoun County’s Sarah Sheridan by four tenths of a second.
“The girls definitely have the goal of winning the district and region titles, and once we get to the state level, they hope to be in contention again,” Bateman said. “The greatest challenge for us is going to be making sure we have enough depth of swimmers going into that meet. Our B relay teams are already on the cusp of qualifying and we need to continue to get that next level of swimmers to qualify to put ourselves in the best position possible.”
On the boys’ side, senior Philip Mardock led the Falcons with top times in the 200 free (1:54.57) and 500 free (5:15.65) after previously qualifying for states in the 100 fly. Junior Matthew Nielsen – who has qualified for states in the 200 free, 100 fly, 500 free and 100 breast – was also a double-winner, taking the 100 fly (55.55) and the 100 breast. Eric Guessford won the 100 free (53.05) and teamed with Mardock, Nielsen and Brennan Maxwell to take the 200 free relay (1:36.77). Nielsen, Mardock, Maxwell and Steffen Vater won the 200 medley relay in 1:47.15.
Joe Gibson was a double winner for the Raiders as he swept the 50 free (24.77) and 100 back (1:02.65). Courtner Clark placed first in the 200 IM (2:10.82) and Gibson, Cameron Van Tol, Chris Stowell and John Showalter won the 400 free relay (3:56.19) for the Loudoun County’s only other first-place finish of the night.
Churchill prevails in marquee matchup
It wasn’t a perfect performance, but almost.
“I’m not sure we could’ve swum any better,” Churchill Coach Rodney Van Tassell said.
In a meeting of Montgomery County powers on Saturday, the Bulldogs defeated Wootton. The boys’ team won, 94-77, and the girls’ team prevailed, 98-73. Van Tassell said wins in the meet’s opening event – the medley relay – gave Churchill a big boost.
Samuel Lee, Harrison Gu, Brian Xiao and Odin Soevik were victorious, as were Shannon Ridge, Diana Yin, Natalya Ares and Michelle Illig. The Bulldogs also notched thirds in both the boys and girls medley relays, helping build an early lead.
“The first relay set the tone for both meets,” Van Tassell said. “We were hoping to finish second and third. We got first and third. It’s a huge swing, at that point we were in the driver’s seat.”
Austin Cole had a huge meet, winning the 50 freestyle (21.97) and the 100 free (48.15). He also anchored Churchill’s winning 400 freestyle relay team. The Churchill girls’ 400 freestyle relay team, made up of Bridget Dromerick, Emily Andrews, Emily Hall and Alicia Tiberino, was also victorious.
“He really just kind of came out nowhere, he’s only a sophomore,” Van Tassell said of Cole. “He’s really gotten quite a bit faster than last year.”
Ares put together a strong performance, winning both the 50 freestyle (24.36) and the 100 butterfly (58.63). Tiberino was also excellent, placing first in the 200 freestyle (1:59.20) and the 100 freestyle (53.34).
“The key to winning the meet was depth,” Van Tassell said. “We were able to win five of the events for the boys.”
Xiao added a win in the 100 butterfly (53.16) and a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke (56.22) to boost the Bulldogs.
Wootton’s Thomas Finn won the 200 freestyle (1:47.38) and the 500 free (4:55.87). But in the end, the day belonged to the Bulldogs.
“Any time Churchill plays Wootton in anything, even in like, chess,” Van Tassell said, “it’s a little more heated.”
Former Little Falls swimmer dies from hydrocephalus complications
Former Little Falls Penguins swimmer and Montgomery County Swim League record-holder Kate Finlayson died on Nov. 27 following a long battle with complications of hydrocephalus.
In 1993 Finlayson, 26, set the girls’ 8 and under 25-meter breastroke record in the inaugural year for that individual event in the MCSL (22.63). She still holds three team records.
Finalyson’s two brothers, Peter and Sam, both played water polo at Stanford founded Team Hydro to raise money for hydrocephalus research. Hydrocephalus is the build up of fluid inside the skull which puts pressure on the brain and leads to swelling.
For more information on Team Hydro, visit their website here.
(Maryland swimming beat reporter Alan Siegel contributed to this report.)