The Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swim Dive League returned to action over the weekend with a slate of meets highlighted by the long-standing rivalry between Gonzaga and reigning Metros champion Georgetown Prep.
A strong start was critical if the Purple Eagles hoped to pull the upset and that’s just what they got. Trailing going into the fly leg of the meet’s opening event – the 200 medley relay – junior Sean Sullivan overcame a full body length deficit to give Gonzaga the lead and senior freestyle anchor Nick Knise brought home the win. Juniors Tim Barry and Sean Spata led off for the Purple Eagles who finished in 1:39.61 to narrowly out-touch Prep (1:39.78).
Their confidence bolstered, the Purple Eagles used depth throughout the lineup to claim a surprising 103-82 victory over the seven-time Metros champions.
“That first relay really set the tone for us,” Gonzaga Coach Dave Norton said. “To come from behind in an event that carried that much weight, that really galvanized our guys, and I think it rattled Prep a little bit because they expected to win it.”
Despite winning only two of nine individual events, Gonzaga’s depth shone through as the Purple Eagles swept all three relays and picked up enough second- and third-place finishes to take the meet.
Gonzaga went 1-3-4 in the 50 free with Sullivan taking first in a time of 21.89, and the Purple Eagles finished first, third and fifth in the 200 free as junior Madison Hardimon won in a time of 1:49.26. In the relays, sophomore Paul O’Hara, Knise, Hardimon and Sullivan took the 200 free (1:28.95), and Gonzaga got an added boost when its B relay team came in second ahead of Prep’s top foursome. O’Hara, Hardimon, Spata and Billy Cowden also finished on top in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:19.97.
All-Met senior Jonathan Ekstrom was a double-winner for Prep, taking the 200 IM (2:00.02) — an event the Little Hoyas swept — and the 500 free (4:51.01). Senior Raymond Chi handily won the 100 breast (1:02.94).
Gonzaga, which practiced twice a day during their winter break including Christmas eve and New Year’s eve, has shown it may be ready to challenge for a Metros title.
“Where are not shooting for first places, but a lot of seconds, thirds and fourths, which combined, put us over the top,” Norton said. “While the win gives us confidence, we are very aware that we need to continue to work harder than ever to maintain the success we’ve worked very hard for over the break.”
Churchill wins fourth straight Division I relay carnival as records fall
Heading into the final event of Saturday’s Division I relay carnival at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center, Churchill found itself in an all-too-familiar spot.
For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs trailed by a razor-thin margin and for the second year in a row, the mixed 400 free relay would decide the meet.
Last season, the Bulldogs used a record-setting performance in the event to edge Whitman 68-65 and capture a third consecutive relay carnival title. This time it was Wootton who went into the final relay leading by a mere two points, and once again, Churchill rallied for the win. Odin Soevik, Natalya Ares, Michelle Illig, Sammy Lee, Christian Salgado, Alicia Tiberino, Bridget Dromerick and Austin Cole turned in a 3:11.33 to break the county record set by the Bulldogs the previous season and Churchill eked out a one-point victory, 62-61.
“We were a bit nervous entering the last few events,” Churchill Coach Rodney Van Tassell said. “After event 10 we were down by 10 to Wootton and in third place behind Whitman.
“I knew we stacked the last relay, so after event 12, when we were only down by two, I knew that we had a good chance for the win, or at the very least, a tie with Wootton.”
Churchill won three other relays — the girls 200 back (1:53.20 – Tiberino, Emily Andrews, Dromerick, Shannon Ridge), the mixed 200 fly (1:43.90 – Andrews, Ares, Colin Asbury, Brian Xiao) and the boys’ 200 breast (1:56.84 – Harrison Gu, Lee, Collin Stanhope, Michael Pratt).
Wootton’s Matt Gibson, Michael Fu, Kenneth Ke and Thomas Finn shattered the county record in the 200 back relay by three seconds with a time of 1:39.87. The Patriots also took first in the mixed 200 medley (1:44.24) and the boys’ 200 fly (1:38.39).
Whitman’s girls turned in another strong showing as Audrey Gould, Katie Mahaffie, Lisa Deng and Charlotte Meyer won the girls’ 200 fly (1:51.26) and Gould, Reia Tong, Steven Goldberg and Sam Pastoriza took first in the mixed 200 breast (2:03.59). Tong, Mahaffie, Sarah Kannan and Victoria Kuhn finished first in the girls’ 200 free (1:41.22) and Gould, Tong, Kannan and Deng also won the girls’ 200 breast by nearly eight seconds (2:08.78).
Robinson boys drop a close one; Madison and Langley split
Sometimes a break from competition can lead to rusty swims and disappointing outcomes. And other times, as many swimmers across the Northern Region demonstrated this past weekend, a change to the weekly schedule can be just what the doctor ordered.
On Friday evening, several relay teams were able to notch state cuts – a relieving achievement for coaches. Not only are relays vital to the scoring effort at the regional and state championship meets, but also registering these cuts early in the season allows coaches to experiment with and fine-tune their relays combinations.
In downing the Madison girls by a score of 207-108, the Langley girls posted two relay state cuts. In the 200 medley relay, the team of Meghan Overend, Karen Schirm, Megan Howard, and Abi Speers combined for a time of 1:53.07, narrowly edging the state-qualifying standard of 1:53.29. Then, Allie Zeidan, Jayme Katis, Abi Speers, and Meghan Overend put the finishing touches on the Saxon victory in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:42.00 – good enough for another state cut.
Despite collecting several state cuts in individual events, the Robinson boys suffered a heartbreaking 153-161 loss to Chantilly. After the meet, Robinson head coach Philip Caslavka recognized the tough road ahead for his boys. “It is clear that we really need to step it up these last few weeks,” said Caslavka. The Chantilly boys were buoyed by the swims of Chris Grimmett-Norris and Will Schulte who took first and third, respectively, in the 200 freestyle and Brian Rothschild and Matthew Eshleman who grabbed first and third in the 200 IM. Meanwhile, the Robinson girls handled their business, dropping the Charger girls 187-128. Rachel Canty (200 free, 100 fly) and Kathleen Dodson (200 IM, 100 back) each contributed to individual wins for the Rams while Laura Gartrell (diving) and Katie Munch (100 free) added victories of their own.
Other notable swims around the region included a 57.40 automatic All-American performance in the 100 breaststroke by Langley senior Chuck Katis and, also in the 100 breaststroke, a 1:07.97 state-cut time by Lake Braddock’s Alessandra Troncoso in a losing effort to West Potomac.
(Taylor Knight contributed to this report.)