You have to go back to the summer of 2009 to find the last time Rockville failed to earn the maximum points possible from a meet. You have to go back even further to 2004 for the last time Rockville was not champion of Division A. This year, Rockville has all but clinched its eighth straight Division A crown as it takes a seemingly insurmountable 12-point lead heading into divisionals. Quite simply, Faye Hixenbaugh’s Rockville Rays are the most dominant MCSL team in recent memory.
In week one, Rockville held off Stonegate 409.5-381.5. This proved to be the toughest challenge Rockville would face all season as it won the rest of its dual meets by more than 150 points per meet. Long-time rival Tilden Woods gave the Rays a real contest at the relay carnival, but the reigning champions prevailed 194-184.
Sanjay Wijesekera has been unbelievable for Rockville as the 12-year-old has 20 wins in 20 races.
For Mill Creek Towne, a second place finish this weekend would be good enough for the Division B crown. Its 38 points are good enough for a seven point lead over Darnestown after an undefeated dual meet season and a second place finish at the relay carnival. Darnestown was victorious at the relay carnival, but a rare tie with Woodley Gardens has left it in need of help if it hopes to win the division.
“I feel really good about our team heading into this weekend,” said David Kraft, who is in his 15th season coaching Mill Creek Towne. “I think we’ve been really fine-tuning things at practice with a lot of race specific instruction.”
Mill Creek Towne will look to advance back up to Division A where it managed a disappointing six points a year ago. The Marlins should feel confident about their chances this weekend after they beat second-place Darnestown 430-361 this past weekend. Mill Creek Towne boasts a very talented and deep team, but 12-year-old Ellie Matusek has particularly stood out this season as she has won all 20 of her races.
“Shes at a really good stage of development,” Kraft said. ” I coach her at RMSC, so I’ve basically been with her for 5 days a week year round. She really learned how to work hard and is a top level trainer and its showing up in the races.”
Darnestown needs to win the divisional meet this Saturday and have third place Woodley Gardens beat out Mill Creek Towne, if it is to pull ahead in the standings. Unlikely, but still possible.
Daleview enters this Saturday’s divisional meet holding a slim 38-34 lead over Inverness Forest. Back in week one, Daleview squeaked by Inverness Forest by the score of 403 to 382, but at the July 10th relay carnival, Inverness Forest finished in first place with 204 points while Daleview was in second with 186. A first place finish for Daleview would seal the division title for the Feet. If Inverness Forest can pull off the upset, it would result in a tie between the two squads.
Daleview finished tied for fourth in Division F a year ago, but has been the class of Division H all season long.
When asked if she expected to be in first place headed into divisionals this season, fifth-year head Coach Emily Rawson simply replied, “no.”
“Sammie is a very well rounded swimmer. She can swim any event and what amazes me is the consistency of her times,” Rawson said. “Claire works very hard and is just so important to our team. She has really been a role model for the rest of the team all season long.”
The way Daleview has been swimming all season long, there is certainly no reason for Rawson to change up what has been working so well.
“We’re excited for divisionals, and we’ve been practicing our starts and finishes like we have all year,” she said. “We’re keeping it fun and letting all the kids, not just the divisional swimmers, practice this week.”
Despite the week one loss, Inverness Forest Coach Amy Mason remains confident that her team can bring a trophy back to Potomac on Saturday.
“During week one we were missing a couple key swimmers, like our best 15-18 boy Austin Cole,” Mason said. “Our 8 & unders and 9-10s have improved a lot. We have about 125 swimmers and most of them are new 8 & unders, so that’s been a big deal for us. We’ve started to score a lot more in the 8 & unders and 9-10s which has been great for our whole team.”
Natalya Ares, 17, has been spectacular in the 15-18 age group with 19 wins and one second-place finish. The recent graduate from Churchill High School will swim for the Richmond Spiders next year.
“She has been a member of the Inverness Forest swim team since she was five,” said Mason, who is in her fourth year with the team. “She is a big part of the team, as she coaches as well. A lot of the younger swimmers really look up to her.”
Despite the magnitude of Saturday’s divisionals, Mason has insisted on treating this week like any other at Inverness Forest.
“In the past we have only invited the divisional swimmers to practice this week, but this year we’ve opened it up to everybody,” Mason said. “They practice better when they’re all there, and it creates a more competitive atmosphere.”
In Division I, Rock Creek‘s 5-0 dual meet season has given it a four-point lead over the North Chevy Chase Sharx. In week two, Rock Creek beat North Chevy Chase 432-359, but in July 7th’s relay carnival, the Sharx pulled out a narrow six point victory over the division leaders.
First year head Coach Ethan Litman, who swims at Middlebury College, is looking forward to the opportunity to tie Rock Creek for the division title and advance into a higher division.
“At our time trials I looked to our team rep and I said that there is no way we are not a division I team,” Litman said. “There is so much raw talent on this team that this year is just a huge stepping stone for us. Regardless of what happens this weekend, this season has been a huge success.”
If North Chevy Chase is going to pull the upset, it will in large part be due to momentum and practice.
“We won relay carnivals which was a huge boost for our momentum as we looked really sharp,” Litman said. “We’ve been working on the little details all season long, technique and starts, it has really paid off.
Fifteen-year-old Isabella Martin has been a standout for North Chevy Chase with 14 wins and 6 second-place finishes in her 20 events this season.
“Bella Martin, she is a young, very talented swimmer,” said her coach. “At 15 she plays a huge role in our team keeping everyone together and as a leader.”
In Division M, Twin Farms holds a slight 34 to 32 lead over Diamond Farm heading into divisionals. Both teams went 4-1 in dual meets with Diamond Farm winning their week two matchup 405.5 to 373.5. At the Divison M relay carnival back on June 27th, Twin Farms edged out Diamond Farms 206 to 186.
“In week one, we were missing some top swimmers,” Twin Farms head Coach Katie Fives said. “We’ve picked up some experience and confidence since the start of the season, and after the relay carnival I think we definitely proved we are one of the teams to beat.”
Twin Farms has been led all year by Sean Maloney, as the 16-year-old has won all 20 of his races in the 18 & under age group.
“Sean has incredible talent and is really competitive,” Fives said. “He is gonna be swimming butterfly in this upcoming meet which is not his normal event. He is always looking on how to improve and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he does this weekend.”
On Saturday, Diamond Farm will be eager to repeat its week two triumph over Twin Farms as well as avenge its week three loss to East Gate.
“We’ve got some swimmers doing some new strokes and we switched up the lineup a bit,” Diamond Farm head Coach Chris Franklin said of his preparation for Saturday. “We’ve been plotting for divisionals all season really but especially after they beat us at the relay carnival.”
Diamond Farm has been an extremely consistent team all year, and Franklin attributes that to his team’s depth and lack of stars.
“There are up years and down years in swimming,” said the former Northwest High School standout and current swimmer at Salisbury University. “We don’t have any dominant kids this year because a lot of our best swimmers are in the bottom of their age group. It’s been a total team effort all year long.”
Championship on the line once again as Overlee and Chesterbrook meet
In a familiar script, the Overlee Flying Fish and the Chesterbrook Tiger Sharks will arrive at McLean’s Chesterbrook Swim and Tennis Club tomorrow undefeated. One team will walk away Northern Virginia Swim League Division 1 champions.
“We’ve essentially been the two big powers of the NVSL,” said Overlee swimmer Torey Ortmayer, 18, who will be swimming in his final NVSL dual meet Saturday. “Each year, it’s always a battle down to the end. There’s rarely ever a blowout, and there definitely won’t be one of those this year.”
Since 2009, a week 5 Chesterbrook-Overlee match-up has determined the Division 1 champion.
The rivalry atop America’s largest summer swim league has been fairly even as of late. The Flying Fish defeated the Tiger Sharks, 210.5 to 191.5, in 2011, but Chesterbrook prevailed in 2010, 217.5-184.5. In the last ten NVSL seasons, Overlee has enjoyed a 5-4 series edge over Chesterbrook and has won five of the last six match-ups.
The Flying Fish cruised to victory earlier this week at the NVSL All Star Relay Carnival, placing 76 points ahead of runner-up Chesterbrook. As the only team in the league to have qualified for all 22 events, Overlee entered the meet with a significant advantage and picked up valuable points with each swim.
But the Flying Fish may enter tomorrow’s meet as underdogs. Chesterbrook has dominated the Division 1 dual meet circuit this season, winning by 40 or more points in each contest. Overlee’s victories, in contrast, include a 211 to 209 nail-biter over McLean in week 1. Reach For The Wall’s virtual meet gives the Tiger Sharks the edge.
Ortmayer, however, remains positive about the chance for an upset.
“We’ve found ourselves going into a few meets this year that we weren’t supposed to win. I think what we’ve done a good job of so far this year is going out and winning a bunch of races that we weren’t supposed to early on in the meet,” Ortmayer said. “Getting ahead early and running with the momentum will be the key.”
A league-leading core of 12-and-under boys has helped carry the Tiger Sharks this season. Chesterbrook’s Jaya Kambhampaty owns league-best times in the 11-12 boys’ 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly, while age group teammate Sam Gollob tops the rankings in the 11-12 boys’ 50 breaststroke. Nicholas Spicer has posted the fastest time in the 9-10 boys’ 50 breaststroke this season.
Chesterbrook’s 11-12 boys’ 100 medley relay is fresh off a league record-breaking performance at All Stars, and the Tiger Sharks’ 9-10 boys’ 100 medley relay and mixed age boys’ 200 freestyle relay also lead the league.
Overlee could respond, however, with one of the fastest groups of 8 & under girls in the league. Sophie Yoder is the league’s fastest 8 & under butterflyer, and the Flying Fish lead the league in the girls 8 & under 100 freestyle relay.
Overlee’s 11-12 and 13-14 girls are also among the league’s best. Suzanne Dolan leads the league in the 13-14 50 freestyle and 50 breaststroke, and the Flying Fish picked up second-place finishes in the 11-12 girls’ 100 medley relay and the 13-14 girls’ 200 freestyle and medley relays at All Stars. In addition, Overlee’s 11-12 boys, who broke the league mark in the 11-12 100 freestyle relay earlier this week, could challenge the Tiger Sharks in the 100 medley relay.
No matter the result, tomorrow will be far from the last chapter in one of summer league swimming’s longest and most storied rivalries.
Other Meets to Watch:
Division D: Country Glen undefeated heading into divisionals
Country Glen enters the Division D championship meet with a perfect 5-0 record and 38 points to lead Quince Orchard by four. In the week four contest between the two division leaders, Country Glen won 415 to 377. However, Quince Orchard was able to sneak by Country Glen 206 to 202 at the divisional relay carnival to keep the championship race close.
Division 5: Hunter Mill hosts Langley
In a battle of unbeatens, Hunter Mill and Langley will square off tomorrow for the Division 5 crown. The meet should come down to the final relays as a scant two points separates the teams in Reach For The Wall’s virtual meet, and the teams’ margins of victory over Divisional opponents are remarkably similar. Hunter Mill has an edge in the boys’ age groups while Langley holds a similar edge in the girls’.
Division 7: Virginia Run favored in week 5 showdown
Poplar Heights and Virginia Run placed second and third, respectively, in their divisional relay carnival earlier this month as Sideburn Run claimed the Division 7 relay title. But Poplar Heights and Virginia Run have managed to go undefeated in dual meets this year and will meet tomorrow to decide the Division 7 season title. Reach For The Wall’s virtual meet favors Virginia Run in nearly every category.
Division 9: Undefeated Fair Oaks and Holmes Run decide division title in final week
On Thursday night, Holmes Run Acres finally made up their week two meet with Fox Hunt, originally postponed due to the storms that knocked out power across the region. The Hurricanes prevailed setting up a week five match-up with the also unbeaten Fair Oaks Sharks. Fair Oaks got the better of Holmes Run at the divisional relay carnival, beating the ‘Canes 198 to 190.
Tags: Austin Cole, Chesterbrook, Chris Franklin, Claire Luigard, Country Glen, Daleview, Darnestown, Diamond Farm, East Gate, Ellie Matusek, Ethan Litman, Hunter Mill, Inverness Forest, Isabella Martin, Jaya Kambhampaty, Langley, MCSL, Mill Creek Towne, Natalya Ares, Nicholas Spicer, North Chevy Chase, NVSL, Overlee, Poplar Heights, Quince Orchard, Rock Creek, Rockville, Sam Gollob, Sammie Grant, Sanjay Wijesekera, Sean Maloney, Sophie Yoder, Stonegate, Summer, Suzanne Dolan, Tilden Woods, Twin Farms, Virginia Run, Woodley Gardens