As Westfield senior CJ Fiala turned off on the last wall in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the final boys’ event of the Virginia AAA Northern Region swim and dive championships, he found himself neck and neck with Robinson’s anchor.
There could not have been a more fitting way for Westfield’s meet to end. For years, Robinson was the dominant team in the region and state, and one of two Concorde District teams that perennially defeated Westfield.
So when Fiala out-touched the Rams at the wall, he not only gave the Bulldogs’ relay a win with a time of 3:10.04, he also put an exclamation point on Westfield’s first-ever Northern Region title at the Oak Marr Recreation Center in Oakton.
The Bulldogs, who sat dominantly atop the standings with 271 points, were joined on the winner’s podium by the Langley girls, who turned in an impressive all-around performance to win the girls’ title with a score of 241, ahead of second-place Yorktown (218) and Lake Braddock (167).
“It’s been amazing,” said Saxons senior Jayme Katis, who captured the 200 freestyle title with a time of 1:52.05 and finished second in the 100 free. “I remember telling [the Langley coaches] that’s what I wanted to do for our team this year, ‘I want to win regionals and hopefully win states.’ I think that was a big team goal for our girls, just give it your all.”
The Bulldogs were paced by Fiala, who took the 100 freestyle title with a time of 46.06 and finished third in the 50 freestyle, as well as by senior Kurtis Ratcliff.
Ratcliff claimed titles in two very different events, the 100 butterfly (50.31) and 500 freestyle (4:32.34).
“In the past year what I’ve been trying to do is make myself more versatile,” Ratcliff said. “I was usually just a 200 butterflier, so in the past year I’ve been working on my distance freestyle and my sprints. So it strengthened my ability to do stuff like the 100 fly and 500 free.”
It was among a number of strong individual performances, as Langley’s Chuck Katis broke records in both the 200 IM, snapping former All-Met swimmer of the year Sean Fletcher’s mark with a time of 1:50.24, and 100 breast (55.61).
“I just knew that record was out there so I put my head down and went for it,” Chuck Katis said after breaking Fletcher’s mark. “I just knew the last 50 is the hardest part especially for me being a breaststroker, after all that leg work. I just went as hard as I could the last 50.”
Oakton freshman Janet Hu won both the 50 free (23.43) and 100 backstroke, with a record 55.60. “In the 50 free I knew I had to tough competition but I just tried to get a good start and good turn and try to get my hand on the wall first,” Hu said. “In the 100 back I just tried to do my best.”
2010 All-Met swimmer of the year Kaitlin Pawlowicz won the 200 IM in 2:01.38, just shy of a state record, and finished second with a time of 55.58 to West Potomac sophomore Hellen Moffitt’s winning time of 55.55 in a thrilling 100 butterfly race.
“Beforehand I was really nervous, I was shaking up on the blocks,” Moffitt said. “I think it was good because it made me go faster. … I saw [Pawlowicz] out of the corner of my eye and just sprinted the last 25 and just hoped I could touch her out.”
Other individual winners included Marshall junior Cyrus Hashemi (200 free, 1:40.35), Fairfax senior Travis Lauri (50 free, 21.07), Langley sophomore Abi Speers (51.99), Falls Church sophomore Laura Schwartz (500 free, 5:04.18), Oakton sophomore Philip Hu (100 back, 50.85) and Robinson junior Rachel Canty (1:03.68).
Relay winners included Westfield’s boys’ 200 medley (1:35.82), W.T. Woodson girls’ 200 medley (1:49.76), Robinson’s boys 200 freestyle (1:26.57), Langley girls’ 200 freestyle (1:36.97) and Oakton’s girls 400 free relay (3:32.47).