During the lead-up to the season, Washington-Lee pushed itself through grueling dry land practices and once the season began, the intensity of those workouts carried over into the pool. In the occasional moments where lethargy seemed to set in or a swimmer would complain about the regimen, only a few words were needed to regain the team’s focus.
“Do you want to beat Yorktown or not?” one of the Generals’ upperclassmen would bellow.
Friday the wait finally ends for the Arlington rivals who enter their highly anticipated dual meet at Yorktown looking to build confidence heading into next week’s AAA National District championships.
The Patriots – whose girls have not lost a district dual meet since 2004 – once again boast the top girls’ team in the league while the Generals feature a group of boys they hope will finally propel them to the district title that has narrowly eluded them each of the last two seasons.
“Our kids have been talking about this meet since the start of the season,” Generals sixth-year coach Kristina Dorville said. “It’s always an exciting, intense meet and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The Patriot girls (6-0) enter as heavy favorites, despite a relatively young group that lost several key contributors for last year’s team which finished sixth at the Virginia AAA meet. Senior Lydia Carpenter has excelled in the 100 free and 200 IM, sophomore Abigail Young has shown her versatility in the 100 back, 200 free, 100 fly and 100 breast and sophomore Amanda Didawick was a double-winner in the 100 fly and 50 free in last week’s decisive victory over Falls Church.
Washington-Lee’s lone senior girl, Lindsay Cronin, could be in for a strong showing for the Generals (6-0), who know they face an uphill battle against a team with 17 consecutive district titles to its name.
“We’re not going in expecting some kind of miracle,” Dorville said. “Undoubtedly, they’re still the powerhouse in this district. But we’re definitely hoping to give them a better run than we have in years past.”
When it comes to the boys, it’s an entirely different story. Each of the last two years the Patriots have narrowly edged out their rivals at the district championship meet – last year by a mere eight points – but buoyed by an outstanding crop of freshmen, the Generals (6-0) are confident this could be their year to topple the Patriot boys (5-1).
Senior Stewart Brown has taken the mantle from reigning district breaststroke champion and former teammate Jake Huston and has finished first in the 100 breast in all but one meet this season. Meanwhile a trio of freshmen have given Washington-Lee added depth and versatility. Philip O’Doherty has swum every event except backstroke this season and excels in sprint to mid-distance freestyle events, butterfly and IM. Jay Delancey has also performed well in sprint events and can also step up in backstroke and butterfly and Michael Emanuel has already established himself as the team’s top distance freestyle swimmer.
But by the time those four hit the water, the Generals expect to be working with a lead courtesy of standout junior diver Carl Buergler – the two-time defending district diving champion and third-place finisher at the AAA state meet.
“He’s basically unbeatable, and it’s great to know that we won’t be going into the swimming events in a hole,” Dorville said.
While Friday’s meet carries the weight of a backyard rivalry and could provide a valuable preview of next week’s district championships, the Washington-Lee boys are on a quest for more than just another dual meet win.
“Our boys want to go over there and win tonight, but our focus is on finally sealing the deal next week,” Dorville said. “We lost by 10 points or less the last two years and it’s just getting ridiculous. Tonight we want a good showing but our focus is truly on districts.”
Northern Region dual meets come to exciting close
The district championships are fast approaching, but before Northern Region teams can begin preparing for the postseason, they must first focus on this weekend’s final dual-meet matchups. Not only will teams get a final tune-up, but also a few undefeated seasons will be on the line.
Friday, in Patriot District action, the West Springfield Spartans will face off against the Wolverines of West Potomac. Both the Spartan boys and girls hold claim to 5-1 records after dropping mid-season contests to district-leading Woodson, while the Wolverine boys stand at 1-5 and the girls at 4-2.
West Springfield has a number of outstanding swimmers including Lauren Yi, Susan Ward, Robert Hutchison, and Matt Garstka, but the way head coach Karen Spooner sees things, a win on Friday night will be contingent upon her teams’ core. “[West Potomac] probably has more talented stars we do,” she observed. “So we’re hoping that our depth can bring us points.”
Both West Springfield and West Potomac already have impressive victories to their names this season – West Springfield beat South County in week two and the West Potomac girls notched a midseason victory over Lake Braddock – and this weekend’s winning team will certainly have another to add to that list.
The Liberty District regular season also comes to an exciting close this weekend, featuring what promises to be a nail-biting finish between Thomas Jefferson and Langley. So close, in fact, that Thomas Jefferson head coach Ali Porter has scored the boys’ meet to within three points.
This year’s dual-meet results offer further indication of just how close Friday’s meet will. Both the Jefferson and Langley boys are currently 5-1, with each team’s only loss coming at the hands of Madison – Jefferson lost to the Warhawks by a score of 223-92, while Langley fell 200-115.
In her four years at Jefferson, Porter has yet to beat the Saxons, but she hopes that this might be the year for her boys. “[Langley] always gets us, even if just by a little bit. But this year’s meet is the closest it has ever been, so I think we finally have a shot – at least for the boys,” she said. The performances of Stephen Seliskar, Jon Spitz, and senior and departing captain, Evan McMurray, have the potential to make or break the night for the Colonials.
The 6-0 Langley girls have been on an absolute tear this season and will likely wrap up an undefeated season against the Colonials, but the Jefferson girls are still hungry after a disappointing loss to McLean two weeks ago and won’t go down without a fight.
Around the area
Also Friday night, undefeated Woodson and emergent Patriot District contender, South County, will square off in a meet with post-season implications.
Madeira and Sidwell Friends tangle in WMPSSDL action Friday before Sidwell Friends matches up with National Cathedral School and St. Albans Saturday at St. Albans. Elswhere, St. Albans hosts O’Connell and NCS Friday and Georgetown Prep hosts Paul VI Catholic and Holy Cross Saturday.
(Taylor Knight contributed to this report.)
Tags: AAA Northern Region, Concorde District, Liberty District, Maryland High School Swimming, Montgomery County High School Swimming, National District, Patriot District, Virginia High School Swimming