As the Theresa Banks swimmers walked from the side of the pool back to their belongings following the final relay at Saturday’s Prince-Mont Swim League Division A divisional meet, the team’s coaches ripped open a cardboard box and started tossing white t-shirts to the youngsters.
The swimmers eagerly pulled on the shirts, revealing backs emblazoned with “Theresa Banks 2011 Division A Champs” in black lettering. After an undefeated regular season, the Tiger Sharks’ first Division A title didn’t come as a surprise, but it still felt pretty good to celebrate a championship.
Theresa Banks finished Saturday’s meet at Strathmore Bel Pre with 239 points to edge two-time defending champion Takoma Park D.C. (215) and Bel Air Bath and Tennis (210) and close out a perfect season.
“This is a year where we didn’t expect to do this much, for real,” 18-year-old Darell Hungerford said, shortly after swimming the anchor leg on the team’s winning boys’ 200 free relay, “and we came here and finished it out.”
“We wanted it really bad, and we got it,” added 18-year-old Danielle Jackson.
The Tiger Sharks used depth to overpower their divisionmates, pulling away late in the meet even without any triple winners. They took the top two places in six different events — no other team accomplished that feat in more than one race — and won both graduated 200 free relays.
“Our coach said from the beginning we were going to go undefeated and we did,” said 12-year-old Sydnee Minor, who finished the meet with two second-place finishes and a third in her individual races. “We know our abilities and how far we can push ourselves, and we showed that this season.”
Theresa Banks made its most impressive showing in the boys’ 11-12 age group. Twelve-year-old Sean Barbour and 12-year-old Raekwon Martin each won two events and finished second in another. In the one event in the age group where neither Barbour nor Martin participated, 11-year-old Kevin Young took second in the 50 breast for the Tiger Sharks.
The rest of the division didn’t go down without a strong effort, though. Bel Air Bath and Tennis started the day fast, dropping a league record in the meet’s first event when Steven Rigby, Charles Brother, Dennis Witol and Thomas Williams swam the boys’ 200 medley relay in 1:58.92.
Takoma Park D.C.’s Jared Miller, 15, won three individual races in his first divisional meet in the 15-18 division. Miller had to hold off Williams in the 50 back, ultimately taking the race in 29.47 secons to win by less than half a second.
“After the 25, I saw him ahead of me,” Miller said, “and I knew I had to pick it up if I wanted to win.”
Swimming in her home pool, Strathmore Bel Pre’s Morgan Hill dropped a league record in the girls’ 11-12 50 fly that had stood since 1997. The 12-year-old won the race with a time of 31.09 seconds.
“She’s been trying to break that record all season, and for one reason or another it hadn’t happened,” Strathmore Bel-Pre Coach Terry Kominski said. “I know it means a lot to her, and I’m so proud of her.”
Theresa Banks, which joined the PMSL in 1994, had threatened the top spot in the league’s most competitive division in the past few seasons but had trouble getting past Takoma Park D.C. — which had won the division three of the past four summers. The Tiger Sharks knocked off Takoma Park D.C. in the season’s final dual meet last week and continued their strong summer with Saturday’s performance.
“The whole team deserves it,” said Hungerford, a rising sophomore at Howard University. “Even the people who didn’t get first or second in the meet, they all put in hard work to get us here.”
Rockville reigns again in MCSL Division A
With team and pool records falling at a rapid pace on Saturday at Upper County, Rockville made sure to preserve its most important streak. In a Montgomery County Swim League Division A divisional meet that featured 34 team, 19 pool and one league record, the Rays came out on top to run their string of consecutive division titles to seven.
“I’m definitely so excited,” Rockville Coach Cara Chuang said. “During our halftime talk, I told the kids how great it would be to not just say we were division champs again but also undefeated. It’s something we can be that much more be proud of. They really did finish strong.”
Eight-year-old Darius Truong continued his bid to rewrite the league record book, setting a record in boys’ eight-and-under 25 breast (19.37 seconds). He bested the old mark by nearly a full second in one of his three event wins. Brother Devin Truong won four events. Neither Truong brother has lost a race in MCSL competition this summer.
One of Rockville’s best performances came from Ophelie Loblack. The 10-year-old posted the league’s top time of the season in the girls’ 9-10 50 free, taking the event in 30.81 seconds. Loblack also posted a personal-best time to win the 25 back and bettered her seed time for a second place finish in the 25 breast.
Chuang said Loblack has struggled to focus at times during her backstroke swims, but the youngster picked a good time to put it all together in the event.
“She’d tell you that back is probably her worst stroke,” Chuang said, “but she’s actually really good at it.”
In her home pool, Upper County’s Emily Wang, 11, took all four of her events. Sixteen-year-old Garrett Powell and 10-year-old Timmy Ellett each won three events for Tilden Woods. Powell finished the boys’ 15-18 100 IM in 1:01.83 to hold off Mill Creek Towne‘s Evan Garfield by 0.07 seconds.
The girls’ 9-10 25 fly took the theme of close races to another level. Kristen Gload of Stonegate and Nicole Lopez of Tilden Woods tied for first in the event as both lowered their seed times to post 15.87 seconds.
MCSL teams can earn a total of 60 points throughout the season by winning each dual meet and finishing first at the relay carnival and divisional meet. Darnestown (Group C), Old Georgetown (Group D), Kentlands (Division F), Diamond Farm (Division N) were the other division winners to accomplish that feat.
– Eric Detweiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Community spirit strong in Sully Station
“These kids all know one another, a lot of them are going to go to Westfield together,” said Sully Station II head coach Scott Brown. “It’ll be one of those things that provides a memory they can talk about for years and years.”
Need more drama? Both teams were undefeated entering Saturday’s meet to determine the Division 5 champion. Ultimately, Sully Station II had a bit more, eclipsing Sully Station I, 223-179.
Everyone knew what was on the line, not least of whom the swimmers. Between the two Sully organizations, a total of seven team records fell Saturday in individual events.
Typically, a meet heavy in sweeps turns out rather lopsided. But no one told SSI and SSII.
SSII swept the 9-10 boys backstroke; SSI took all 9 points in the 15-18 girls backstroke, a race in which Logan Coulson Moore broke a seven year-old record (31.30). Immediately SSII came back, sweeping the 8 and under breaststroke – bend, don’t break. All told, nine of the individual races were sweeps.
A very animated C.J. Fiala, swimming in his final meet with the Supersonic Transporters, lowered his NVSL season-best time in the 15-18 freestyle (24.12). No sooner had he finished his race, Fiala was back at the team area, delivering last-minute pieces of advice and encouragement to the 8 and under backstrokers and the team that has meant so much to him growing up.
“This team has been my life for the past 12 years over the summer,” said Fiala. And ending his career against SSII, you almost couldn’t draw it up any better.
“I always wondered if we would see this team during a dual meet,” the future UNC Wilmington Seahawk said. “It made it tough to lose to them, but then again it was a lot of fun at the same time.”
Younger brother Brandon Fiala got in on the action too, trying to ensure C.J. ended his career with a win, taking first in the 15-18 backstroke (28.04). Richard Xue followed behind Brandon to grab second for SSI (29.08).
The 9-10 boys breaststroke quickly evolved into a two-man race as SSI’s Hogan O’Brien and SSII’s Kellen Campbell surged to the front. 45.81 41.83
C.J. Fiala also dominated the 15-18 breaststroke, drawing comments from everyone on deck. “He’s from the other team, but I really just want to cheer for him,” observed one SSII parent. “How can you not?” came the reply from another.
Elise Mozeleski, 9, demonstrated the payoffs of a graceful yet powerful butterfly, swimming to a first-place finish (17.60).
Daniel Okhovvatgilani, 14, was a double-winner for SSI with first-place finishes in breaststroke (36.22) and butterfly (29.11).
The high-spirited Brown knew how important the relays would be, telling his swimmers, “It’s crunch time, it’s go time, it’s our time!” as the 8 and under boys stepped up. The boys seemed to take his words to heart; they won by nearly 15 seconds, emphasizing the disparity witnessed in the individual events.
Because each relay was a relative blowout, the true closeness of the meet was somewhat disguised.
C.J. Fiala’s last swim was an exciting one, however, taking over the mixed age relay trailing by eight to ten meters. He surged back to within a body length, but just ran out of real estate.
As long as this meet has been in the making, sportsmanship between rivals and friends was on display all morning. Not a race passed without swimmers offering one another congratulatory handshakes before exiting the water.
When the meet ended, the two teams lined up to shake hands – but hugs were almost as commonplace. Eventually, both teams were corralled by the deep end, coaches leading the chant, “Sully Station, one and two,” letting their friendship and community spirit be known to all on deck.
Parents and swimmers stuck around for a community lunch at the pool, compliments of Sully Station. NVSL swimming at its finest.
Division 1 repeat
As it turns out, the trophy didn’t have to go very far, as Overlee overpowered Chesterbrook, 210.5-191.5, defending its title.
After the freestyle events, which ended the same as they began, tied 45-45, the Flying Fish started to pull away.
Needing just five relays for the win, Overlee took six and put the finishing touches on its Division 1 run.