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Preview: Concorde District Championship Meet

By Bryan Flaherty

Few districts in the state can reload the way Concorde District teams do each season. That much is obvious when you look at the contenders lineups heading into the Concorde District Championship meet, on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28, at Cub Run RECenter in Chantilly.

A Concorde District team has won a Va. AAA Swimming and Diving state championship every year since 2006, either on the girls’ or boys’ side. You could go further back if you included Robinson‘s championships won before they moved to the Concorde District in 2005.

Those championship runs started during this meet, and Oakton‘s girls’ squad (7-0) is looking to get off on the right foot by repeating as district champions. Meanwhile, their boys’ team (7-0) is looking to get back to their 2010 form, when they were district, region, and state champions. They will have to go through Chantilly (5-2), who is loaded with talent in each and every one of its classes this year. Defending district, region, and state champion Westfield Bulldogs will also get in the mix, despite a 4-3 record.

Diving begins at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, swimming preliminaries at 5:30 p.m. Swimming finals kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday

Janet Hu headlines for the Oakton girls. She is expected to dominate in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, where she is in a league of her own. The 16-year-old sophomore is one of two high school swimmers in the area with three or more Olympic Trials cuts.

The other Olympic Trials qualifier in the meet is Herndon‘s Jenna Van Camp (senior), who is the top seed in the 100 breaststroke.

Both Hu and Van Camp will be chased by Robinson star, Rachel Canty, seeded second in both events. If Canty has a good race, she could pull an upset over the speedy Van Camp in the 100 breaststroke.

There are no clear favorites in the remainder of the events heading into prelims, but Friday night may clarify who is ready to swim at a high level this championship season and who was caught sleeping.

Robinson’s Kathleen Dodson is seeded first in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, but Maggie Shaw has the speed and ability to win both races. Shaw’s teammate, Logan Coulson-Moore (Chantilly), will also challenge in the 200 freestyle.

As per usual in the sprint events, the 50 freestyle is wide open. Gillian Crews (Oakton), Abby McCranie (Centreville), Stephanie Hallock (Oakton), and Sydney Pereira (Chantilly) all have the ability to get up for the quick lap, but top-seeded Carli Molano (Westfield) and third-seeded Laura Branton may have the edge in the race.

Molano and Branton are also the break-away favorites in the 100 freestyle. Crews will battle top-seeded Rachel Anderson (Centreville)  in the 100 butterfly later in the meet.

Despite a host of highly slotted swimmers, Oakton’s real strength is its depth, which should propel them ahead of the rest of district. There closest dual meet this season was a 45 point win over Chantilly. Their ability to place a large portion of their girls in Saturday night’s ‘A’ finals makes it difficult for the rest of the district to match their pace.

“We’re focused on swimming well Friday night, so we can swim well on Saturday night,” said Oakton coach Parker Ramsdell. “Getting as many of our girls as possible under regional cuts will set us up to win this weekend, and next weekend.”

In the boys’ side of the district meet, nothing is certain. Chantilly only lost to Oakton by 5 points a few weeks back. Westfield was blown out by Oakton during the week of the Tom Dolan and Winter Classic championship meets, when both teams were missing many of their key year-round swimmers. At full strength, the Bulldogs could be a different team.

“Our boys have to swim out of their minds on Friday and Saturday night if we want to win,” said coach Ramsdell. “Nothing is guaranteed. It will take everyone to win this. We need to get as many of our boys back on Saturday night as possible.”

Philip Hu (Oakton), Brian Rothschild (Chantilly), and Richard Xue (Westfield) will have to step up for their respective teams, individually and in the relays.

All three will meet in the boys’ 100 butterfly. Xue is the top seed going into Friday’s prelims. He will try to hold that spot at finals, but Rothschild and Hu are two of the best butterfliers in the region, and could pull away from Xue. Rothschild and Xue will meet earlier in the meet in the 200 IM, where Rothschild is favored to win.

In the first individual event of the night, Chris Grimmett-Norris and Hu will face off in the boys’ 200 freestyle. Grimmett-Norris is the top seed, but Hu has plenty of speed and stamina to snag this race from the Chantilly junior. Expect Hu’s teammate Brian Phillips to compete with Herndon’s Jonathan Nguyen and Conor Cudahy for third place, in a race that could set the tone for the remainder of the meet.

Grimmett-Norris leads the way for the Chargers in the 500 freestyle as well. Phillips is seeded second, Cudahy is third, and Will Schulte is fourth. All four swimmers are within ten seconds of each others best times.

Westfield could get a boost in the final two individual events. Matthew Glowacki is seeded second for the Bulldogs in the 100 backstroke. He will meet Oakton senior Conor Murphy in a race that will be sure to be a close finish.

Brandon Fiala is the overall seed in the 100 breaststroke. David Stewart (Chantilly), Ryan Santoro (Oakton), and Denny Nguyen (Oakton) will probably fall back to fight for second behind the Westfield junior.

Fiala’s other event is the 50 freestyle, where it is anyone’s race between himself, Carter Sharer (Oakton), and Matt Jones (Robinson).

Sharer will also swim the 100 freestyle, where he has the top position going into prelims. He hopes to hold on over teammate Murphy, J. Nguyen, Johann Shim, and at least three other swimmers who could jump up into the final heat. This is a race no one should look past on Friday if they expect to make it back to the ‘A’ final on Saturday.

The top 16 swimmers from prelims advance to finals, with the top eight making the ‘A’ final, guaranteeing their team at least 11 points for eighth place. Points quickly drop off after the top eight, making Friday night’s finishes extremely important in such a stacked district.

Making the ‘A’ final is also important for the teams who hope to compete for the regional championship next week. Only the top six swimmers in the ‘A’ final advance to regionals. You can also qualify for regionals by achieving a cut time at any point in the season. Each team can qualify up to four swimmers for the regional championship meet.

Read more about the 2012 High School Championship meet season here.

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