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2012 NVSL All Star Relays: Overlee repeats as champions on record setting night

By Bryan Flaherty

As the color guard marched onto the pool deck for the start of the 2012 NVSL All Star Relay Carnival, a welcome breeze began moving dark, ominous clouds into the area, urging officials to get things started as soon as possible. The weather held off during the evening, as spectators sat and stood in expectation to see the best squads from around the northern Virginia region go head to head in the all-relay event at Lincolnia Park pool.

Spectators from Tuckahoe, Chesterbrook and Overlee showed up early to secure the prime seats in the bleachers for their massive cheering sections, a constant presence during the course of the meet. They had plenty to cheer about as the three Division 1 clubs each grabbed one of the four new league records set on Wednesday and, between them, won 12 of the 22 total relays. Overlee won its second consecutive All Star Relays crown, beating Chesterbrook, 668 to 592. McLean was third (484), Tuckahoe fourth (440), Fairfaix Station fifth (327), and Highlands sixth (302). Lincolnia Park hosted the annual meet for the first time in 33 years.

Langley's Helena Swaak takes the lead in the girls' 8 & under 100-meter medley relay. (Bryan Flaherty/The Washington Post)

The first records of the evening were preceded by the telltale chant of “little hands, little feet” as coaches led their 8 & under squads into the clerk of course for the start of the 8 & under 100-meter medley relays, swam for just the second time in NVSL competition.

In the girls’ race, Langley entered the meet as the top seed after setting the inaugural record last week. However, the Overlee team of Katie Bailey, Lauren Hartel, Sophie Yoder, and Emilia Ridgeway was not to be denied their place in the record books, out-touching the Wild Things 1:23.13 to 1:23.24 for a new league record. Both

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relay teams went under last week’s record, shaving .81 seconds off last week’s mark. Overlee’s girls later took first in the 8 & under 100 freestyle relay as well, winning in 1:13.08.

On the boys’ side, it was a very different contest where, right from the start, Tuckahoe was swimming alone towards resetting its own league record from last week’s Division 1 relay carnival. DJ Leiss led it off for the Tigers, and Nathaniel Hughes, JT Ewing, and Emanuel Rouvelas continued to build on the lead Leiss established over the next 75 meters, winning the heat by over four seconds in 1:22.80 and eclipsing their own record from a week ago by three-fourths of a second.

In the 11-12 girls’ 100 medley, Cassidy Bayer led off in the backstroke leg to help Mount Vernon Park cut an additional .03 seconds off its league record set last week. Bayer was joined by Holly Jansen, Emma Jones, and Elaina Phalen in the 2.7 second win for the Gators. In the freestyle relay, Bayer, Jansen, Jones, and Phalen again took first, this time missing the record by seven hundredths of a second.

An event later, Chesterbrook’s boys became the first group of 12 & unders to go below the 1-minute mark in the 100 medley relay, breaking the 2010 mark set by McLean by three-tenths of a second for a time of 59.76. Grant DeWitt, Sam Gollob, Thomas Outlaw, and Jaya Kambhampaty combined for the record. The same team got together in the freestyle relay to give Overlee’s team of Jonathan Day, Nick Pasternak, John Aldinger, and Sam Ellison a run for the league record. Both teams missed, but it was an incredible race from start to finish with the Overlee relay finishing a disappointing one-hundredth of a second off the record in 54.59. Chesterbrook was second in 54.78.

In between record-breaking performances, the crowd’s collective groans could be heard as relays chased down, and eventually fell short of records. MVP’s girls’ and Overlee’s boys’ 11-12 free relays were just two of six relays that were within one second of setting league records, the combined difference a minuscule 1.45 seconds in total.

Chris Outlaw, Chesterbrook, fighting through his own wake during the mixed age 200-meter freestyle relay. (Bryan Flaherty/The Washington Post)

Chesterbrook’s mixed age 200 freestyle relay team of J. Kambhampaty (12), Nick Spicer (10), Griffin Morche (14), and Chris Outlaw (15) missed resetting their own league record from a week ago by .47 seconds. Outlaw, like many of the senior boys during the meet, had to fight through the choppy pool waters as the older boys’ wake washed over the lane lines.

In the 13-14 girls’ 200 medley relay, Orange Hunt dropped over 1.5 seconds off its seed time to come within .14 seconds of the record. Stephanie Chewning, Christin Swanepoel Stevens, Robyn Dryer, and Tess Doran were unchallenged, cruising to an easy win over second place Overlee. It was a similar story in the 15-18 girl’s 200 medley, as Vienna Aquatic‘s Julia Capobianco, Kristin Haufler, Alli Haufler, and Cassidy Humphrey cut 2.31 seconds off their seed time to come within three-fourths of a second of the league record.

In the 9-10 boys’ 100 freestyle relay, Adi Kambhampaty had a shot at his brother Jaya’s 2010 record, but was left disappointed after finishing .01 seconds behind the record. He was joined by Spicer, Ollie Bernasek, and Andrew Bernstein in the win for Chesterbrook. The squad also won the 9-10 boys’ 100 medley earlier in the meet.

The meet saw little movement between seed and final position with the exception being the 15-18 age group. Teams made uncharacteristically big jumps from low seeds onto the medal stands in the age group that usually measures improvements in tenths of a second.

Riverside Gardens and Hunt Valley blasted heat one of the boys’ 15-18 200 medley relay. Riverside Gardens’ Patrick Murphy, Michael Ryan Clark, and Kevin Grant rode a monstrous butterfly leg from Sean Sullivan to drop 3.33 seconds off their seed time and move from 16th to fourth. Hunt Valley shaved 1.09 seconds off their seed to move from 13th to eighth. 

In the final heat, McLean’s Stephen Seliskar, Andrew Seliskar, Jake McCarron, and Danny Mittell won the event in 1:50.29, out touching Fairfax Station by .06 seconds. It was a tale of two halves for the two relay teams, as the Seliskar brothers opened up a big lead in the first 100 meters before handing the race over to teammates McCarron and Mittell. In the end, it almost wasn’t enough as Ricky Munch, who, like Andrew Seliskar, returned two week ago from competing at Olympic Trials, posted one of the most impressive anchor legs of the night — splitting sub-23 seconds in the freestyle leg.

In the girls’ 15-18 200 medley relay, the team from Mansion House moved from seventh to second after dropping nearly six seconds from last week’s time. After a solid opening 100 from Megan Gray and Molly Graves, Hellen Moffitt showed why she’s an Olympic Trials qualifier, posting a blistering butterfly leg to give a two body length lead to Maddie Zeigler who sealed the win. However, in the next heat Vienna Aquatic’s squad had their own drop to come within a second of the league record and dash Mansion House’s hopes at victory.

In the 15-18 girls’ free relay, Mansion House made an even bigger jump to move from 17th to fifth overall, but the real race for first was between top seeds Tuckahoe, Fairfax, and Vienna Aquatic. The three squads finished within .37 of each other with Tuckahoe taking the race in 1:53.10. Eva Greene, Alexis Danchak, Farrin Saba, and Bethany Rysak combined for the victory. 

Finishing the night, the boys’ 15-18 free relays turned the six-lane pool into a virtual wave pool as relays in all three heats posted fast splits, one right after the other. Starting things off, the 15th seeded Riverside Gardens’ team of Murphy, Clark, Grant and Sullivan returned after their impressive medley relay performance to win the opening heat in 1:40.32 — .08 seconds under top-seeded Sleepy Hollow Bath & Racquet’s seed time. A heat later, the eighth seeded Fairfax Station team of Bo IlgenfritzCory HansenAlex Saffran, and Munch lowered the mark by another .18 seconds to 1:40.14, setting up a showdown between the top seeds — SHBR, McLean, Chesterbrook and Lee-Graham — in the final heat [Complete race video below]. SHBR’s Eric MioduskiEli BassPJ DiBenedetto, and Christian Rowcliffe won in 1:39.99, leaving Fairfax Station and Riverside Gardens in second and third. McLean, Lee-Graham, and Chesterbrook finished in fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.

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