In their first meet after the holiday break, teams in the Northern Region (Va.) and Montgomery County (Md.) will face district and divisional rivals with championship meets just a month away.
After graduating most of its district, regional, and state winning team, Langley will face off against district rival Madison.
“This meet has a lot of history,” Madison Coach Andrew Foos said. “We love to see each other each year and we love to beat each other.”
Langley's teams are both 4-0, as are the Warhawk boys. Madison's girls are 3-1, their only loss coming against Jefferson in the last meet before the three-week break.
Madison is led by freestyler Evan Owens and IM and breaststroke specialist Howe Wang. Both are juniors. The Warhawks girls' team boasts one of the deepest freshmen classes in the region, including Sidney Owens, Cassidy Humphrey, and Laura Sullivan.
Langley is anchored by its superstars, Abi Speers, second in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle at states, and Ryan Natal, last year's state runner-up in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle, as well as their own crop of freshmen girls.
“This rivalry means a lot to the kids,” Langley Coach Ryan Jackson said. “Most of them are summer and club teammates. They want to beat each other.”
In a heavyweight matchup between teams that have each won state championships within the last two years, this meet holds significance for both teams coming out of the mid-season break.
The boys' matchup should be extremely close, most likely being won or lost in the relays. As always with these teams, depth will play a major factor and Robinson is expecting freshmen swimmers Martin Javelosa, Patrick Myers, and JP Boland to step up to the challenge, according to Rams Coach Phil Caslavka.
“This is a big one for our boys. The boys at Robinson and Westfield have always swam club together and tend to get extra pumped up for this meet,” Caslavka said. “I know both teams want this one badly.”
Westfield was hit by illness during the holiday break, but Coach Bruce Andersen says his team has been training hard over the last few weeks.
“This is a tough meet for us,” Andersen said. “We're looking for some big time drops from our kids.”
This is the last real test for Westfield, who finishes the season against winless Centreville and one-win Herndon. Herndon's girls' team is 0-4.
For the Rams, this is a mid-season litmus test before they conclude their season with back-to-back meets against powerhouse Oakton, who they already met earlier in the season.
Over the years, the Concorde District has been the juggernaut at the Northern Region and AAA championship meets. The district has won a state swimming title in each of the last six years.
Walter Johnson boasts one of the deepest boys' lineups of any team in the DMV, especially among its freestyle corp. But Wootton Coach Howard Blume doesn't mind being the underdog in this week's meet.
“This is a great meet for our boys. They get to race some really top-notch competition in only the third meet of the season,” Blume said. “We're underdogs, but we'll give them a run for it.”
In one of the fastest meets of the year, which could feature a 100 breaststroke race with three swimmers under one minute, expect fiercely contested second, third and fourth place finishes in nearly every event.
Wootton stars Michael Fu and Matt Gibson will have their hands full in whatever event they are placed, especially if they have to face Walter Johnson's stud freestyler Barry Mangold or breaststroker Fletcher Tollefson.
Against the defending MCPS champion Bulldogs (2-0), B-CC's boys' team (0-2) will face an uphill battle. But the 1-1 matchup on the girls side is the perfect chance for both teams to build momentum coming out of the break.
“This meet offers a lot of opportunities to swim fast and be in close races,” B-CC Head Coach Jason Blanken said.
In order to keep the meet close on the boys' side, B-CC stars Graham Baird and Jorge Rios must have a strong showings against the Churchill boys led by Austin Cole, Harrison Gu, Eric Eig, Todd Erickson, and diving Olympic Trials qualifier Tim Faerbera.
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Tags: AAA Northern Region, Abi Speers, Annie Kastler, Austin Cole, B-CC, Barry Mangold, Brandon Fiala, Carli Molano, Cassidy Humphrey, Churchill, Concorde District, Cory Bowersox, Emily Berchem, Eric Eig, Evan Owens, Fletcher Follefson, Grace Swinnerton, Graham Baird, Harrison Gu, High School, Howe Wang, Jorge Rios, Kristina Li, Langley, Laura Sullivan, Liberty District, Madison, Maryland High School Swimming, Matt Gibson, Matt Jones, MCPS, Michael Fu, Michelle Illig, Montgomery County High School Swimming, Natalya Ares, Northern Region, Oakton High School, patrick Myers, Richard Xue, Robinson, Ryan Natal, Sidney Owens, Tim Faerbera, Todd Erickson, Virginia High School Swimming, Walter Johnson, Westfield, Wootton