Week One rematch in Division 1
2012 NVSL season will kick off with a bang as McLean and Overlee match up with a week one rematch in Division 1. Overlee has won five out of the past six NVSL Division 1 titles and twenty seven in all, but McLean Coach Jill Kenney insists her team is up for the challenge.
“We swam against Overlee in our first meet last year, and it was our first meet in Division 1, so I think we were a bit intimidated,” said Kenney. “But our kids are friends with a lot of their kids and we know a lot about them, so we should be able to step up and race the way we know how to.”
In the opener, Overlee took 32 of 50 events on its way to a 251-151 victory over McLean. Overlee went on to win its next four meets on its way to a perfect record and the championship, while McLean finished 2-3 in the league’s top division.
McLean boasts a strong team that would have included the best duo of 11-12 swimmers in the area had Timothy Wu not missed the NVSL birthday cut off by one day.
Wu took first place at last year’s NVSL All-Stars in the 100 IM in addition to victories in the 100 IM and 50 breaststroke at Divisionals. In fourteen events for the McLean Marlins last summer, the Curl Burke swimmer finished first ten times, second three times, and third once. But now, as a 13-year-old this season, he will face increased competition at the bottom of the age group.
“I couldn’t say a bad thing about him,” said Coach Kenney. “He will do anything for the team. He is a complete team player.”
On the girls’ side, Isabella Rongione, was equally impressive for the Marlins last season. At All-Stars, Rongione finished second in the 11-12 100 IM and fourth in the 50 butterfly. The failure to bring home first place broke a 24-event streak of finishing first in the NVSL for The Fish swimmer.
“You rarely see a talent like hers,” said Kenney of Rongione. “She is so modest that you would have no idea if you met her that she was that fast.”
While McLean struggled in its first year in Division 1, perennial powerhouse Overlee surged. In the final dual meet of the 2011 season, Overlee dethroned defending champions Chesterbrook to reclaim its crown.
For the Flying Fish, Ryan Baker placed first or second in every dual-meet event he swam last season as a 13-year-old. Now at the top of the age group, he will look to come back this season even stronger after another full year with Curl Burke. However, facing Wu in week one is a tough draw for the 14-year-old.
Like Baker, Suzanne Dolan will have another go at the 13-14 age group in which she too finished first or second in every dual meet event a year ago. Dolan, a year round swimmer for Machine Aquatics is also the reigning champ in the girls’ 13-14 50 breaststroke from last year’s NVSL All-Stars meet.
The Overlee Flying Fish are undoubtedly the favorites heading into this weekends meet, but nothing is certain until the swimmers are in the water Saturday.
Donaldson Run looks to end two year skid against Wakefield Chapel
The third and fourth place finishers in last year’s NVSL Division 3, Wakefield Chapel and Donaldson Run, are set to meet again, this time in the Division 3 opener. This will be the third consecutive year that the two pools will match up together in Division 3.
Wakefield Chapel has won the past two meetings by a combined 12 points. It could be more of the same this season as Donaldson Run finds its bearings with a new head coach. Their previous coach, Steve Menard? Wakefield Chapel’s new head coach.
“I definitely know [Donaldson Run's] strengths and their top swimmers,” said Menard. “I have strategized my team accordingly, but it really just comes down to the swimmers.”
Wakefield Chapel is lead by 10 and under standout Madelyn Donohoe and brothers Matt and Dave Herbert. Donohoe finished second in the girls’ 9-10 100-meter individual medley last year at NVSL All Stars, and The Fish swimmer has the luxury of staying in the same age group while most of her rivals from a year ago aged
“Madelyn is nothing but a great big ball of energy,” said Coach Menard. “She is extremely enthusiastic and seems to have never-ending energy.”
The Herbert brothers will be veterans of their 13-14 and 11-12 age groups. Both boys posted top ten finishes at All Stars last summer.
“They are very competitive guys,” said Menard. “Matt will spend all his time trying to beat the times of all my 15-18-year-olds, and Dave will spend all his time trying to beat his brother.”
Donaldson Run was a disappointing 1-3-1 last season and must find a way to replace the points generated by current Middlebury College swimmers, twins Ann and Lydia Carpenter, if they want to remain in the upper divisions of NVSL.
Bryan Meade, an all-star for Donaldson Run last summer in the boys’ 13-14 age group, will have to make the adjustment from the 13-14 to 15-18 quickly, as will their pair of 8 and under all-stars from last year, John Ford and John Sloan, who will have to adjust to the 50-meter races as nine-year-olds.
Matchup between teams heading in separate directions.
Holmes Run Acres went 4-1 last season to top Division 11 of NVSL. This year they have made the jump to Division 9 and will dive into the new season on Saturday against South Run who failed to win a meet in Division 5 last season and consequently tumbled four divisions.
“This is our first year as high as Division 9 since 1999, and when I got here ten years ago we were in 16,” said Holmes Run Acres’ Coach Clayton Joyner. “We are going to see some similar competition, but South Run has been a powerhouse in the top divisions for years.”
This year’s South Run team will look to put and end to a slide that has seen their team drop six divisions in three years.
Cole McGarry will have to build on his impressive summer 2011 season if the Seahawks are going to have success as he ages up into the 15-18 age division. Cole was superb in the 13-14 age group last year, finishing second only once in his ten dual meet events. The Curl Burke swimmer also finished second in both the 100 IM and 50 butterfly in the 13-14 age group at last year’s NVSL All Stars meet by a combined 0.27 of a second.
Sammy Orellana will look to dominate the 13-14 girls’ age group as she too finished second in two All Star events last year — the 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke. Natalie Grandle will be moving up to the 13-14 age group after an undefeated dual meet season and an All Stars berth.
Holmes Run offers visiting teams the unique opportunity to go after long-forgotten yards records set when the shorter pool length was more popular. A 25-yard pool is 22.86 meters in length, forcing swimmers to adjust to a slightly shorter race than usual. If it offers any home-pool advantage, the Hurricanes don’t care, seizing any help they can get in Division 9.
“It’s fun because kids get a chance to go after two sets of records and as a coach it’s always great to see kids break records,” said Joyner. “But it definitely hurts the younger kids who it is harder to make the adjustment for [between yards and meters].”
For the Hurricanes, 17-year-old Jesse Kane returns after an undefeated season last year in Division 11. He will need the extra year’s experience in this season’s more competitive division.
“Jesse is one of the fastest kids in the area,” said Joyner of his star. “Everybody knows about him, and he is a great example for the rest of our team.”
Marla Surette will join Kane to lead Holmes Run Acres’s group of 15-18 swimmers. The Fairfax High School swimmer has finished first or second in every event she has swam for the Hurricanes dating back to the summer of 2010.
Marla’s younger sister, Brenna, will be joining her sister in the 15-18 age group. Last season, she finished in ninth place in the girls’ 13-14 50 backstroke at All Stars.
Rivalry in bloom between long-time division foes
By Bryan Flaherty
If it weren’t for the objective nature of the computerized swim-offs system used to determine MCSL division seeds each summer, you might suspect that someone has a hand in pitting Cedarbrook and River Falls against each other, year in, year out. But once again, the two pools, rivals by perennial contest, find themselves going head to head in another division matchup.
“We have swum them almost every year for the last 10 years,” said Cedarbrook Coach Dave Crocker. “We’re always in the same division, so that makes for a great rivalry every year.”
Last season, Cedarbrook edged River Falls by two points, 397 to 395. Two years previously, in 2009, River Falls was triumphant, winning 400 to 392.
“The meets are always close. It makes it fun,” said Crocker.
This season, a new coach takes the helm at River Falls after long-time head coach, Greg York, departed after last season. Taking the reins is Jason Blanken, who coaches for RMSC year-round and at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in the winter.
“Moving to a new pool has been a big change,” said Blanken, who previously coached at Regency Estates in the MCSL. “Everyone at River Falls has been super supportive, especially the senior [swimmers]. I’m excited for our meet with Cedarbrook, just like the rest of them.”
Talia Moss, 10, ranks in the top five in all three 9-10 events she has swam this summer, including the league’s top spot in the 25 breaststroke. She is also the highest ranked 10 and under in the 100 IM, barely getting out-touched last week by a girl two years her senior.
Blanken will need his stars to step up against a very strong Cedarbrook squad that was bolstered by a number of returning year-round swimmers, some of which Blanken coaches at RMSC.
“[Cedarbrook] is a really good team,” said River Falls Coach Jason Blanken. “They will make a run at the Division C title this season.”
Johnny Mooers made huge gains in the winter season, and the 16-year-old returns as one of the burgeoning leaders on the team.
On the girls’ side,14-year-old Sydney Kirsch leads the way, posting top-five rankings in all four of her events.
“Sydney is crazy fast,” said Crocker. “We have a huge crop of fast 13-14 girls, starting with Sydney. It’s one of our strongest age groups.”
While the meet has been close in the past, Cedarbrook’s added depth may give them the edge in 2012. But as is common in early season matchups and rivalry meets, swimmers may step up to the challenge and pull an upset in week two.
“Everyone knows what week it is, especially the seniors,” said Blanken. “They don’t need any extra motivation; just going against Cedarbrook is enough to get them excited.”
Tags: 2012 MCSL Division C, 2012 NVSL Division 1, 2012 NVSL Division 3, 2012 NVSL Division 9, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, and John Sloan, Brenna Surrette, Bryan Meade, Cedarbrook, Cole McGarry, Dave Herbert, Donaldson Run, Holmes Run Acres, Isabelle Rongione, Jesse Kane, John Ford, Madelyn Donohoe, Marla Surrette, Matt Herbert, McLean Marlins, MCSL, Natalie Grandle, Overlee, River Falls, Ryan Baker, Sammy Orellana, South Run, Summer, Suzanne Dolan, Timothy Wu, Wakefield Chapel