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Conger breaks two more league records; McTaggart downs 24-year-old record

By Dillon Mullan

Individual All-Stars

On Sunday, the fastest swimmers from the MCSL season gathered at the Rockville Municipal Swim Center for the 55th Individual All-Star meet. Swimmers who have been blowing by the competition during the regular season of dual meets were in the same pool to competing against one another for the league’s top honors.

Flower Valley's Jack Conger (silver/red cap) and Tilden Woods' Garrett Powell (yellow cap) push off in the men's 15-18 200M backstroke at MCSL's Coaches Longcourse Meet. Conger blew away the MCSL record by 3 1/2 seconds. (Photo by Ginny Maycock)

“Keep your eyes on the middle of the pool here as Jack Conger pulls away,” directed the announcer at the beginning of the boys’ 15-18 50-meter butterfly. Flower Valley’s Conger — a finalist in the 200 meter backstroke at Olympic Trials — was clearly a class above the rest on Sunday as he broke his own MCSL records in the 15-18 50 butterfly and 15-18 100 backstroke with times of 24.05 and 53.70 seconds. Olympic Trials qualifier and future Georgia Bulldog Garrett Powell from Tilden Woods finished 2.97 seconds behind Conger in the backstroke.

One of the MCSL’s rising stars, PalisadesGrant Goddard, finished second to Conger in the 15-18 50 butterfly by 2.27 seconds.

“I love swimming in this meet,” said the current Georgetown Prep star Goddard. “The pool is a lot nicer and with this deep competition it’s impossible not to get a best time.”

In the 15-18 100 freestyle, Goddard was second to Tilden Woods’ Barry Mangold by .26 seconds.

“I dropped 1.5 seconds, but I messed up on some walls,” said Goddard after the race. “Barry is a great swimmer, so I’m not too upset with second. I’ve had a really great year this year as a 15-year-old in this age group, and the competition is only going to get easier from here.”

FEATURED PHOTO: Chevy Chase's Caroline McTaggart swimming to a new record in the girls' 15-18 100-meter freestyle at the 2012 MCSL All Star meet. (Photo by Ginny Maycock)

On the girls’ side of the meet, 15-year-old Caroline McTaggart was not to be outdone by her fellow Olympic Trials competitors as she broke two MCSL records of her own on

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Sunday. In the 15-18 100 freestyle, her time of 58.02 was .11 seconds better than Pamela Minthorn’s record that she set for Darnestown 24 years ago. To close the meet, the 15-18 50 butterfly saw McTaggart break current Harvard swimmer Danielle Schulkin‘s record by just .04 seconds in one of the most exciting races of the day. Bethesda’s Reia Tong came in second .2 seconds behind McTaggart and .02 seconds ahead of  Tilden Woods’ Anna Epstein and Inverness Forest‘s Natalya Ares who tied for third.

“I’m really happy to be here because I get to see my friends from the local swimming community after a pretty crazy summer,” said McTaggart. “I gained a lot of experience at Trials watching some of the best athletes in the world, but I always enjoy swimming in the MCSL. I haven’t decided if I’m going to swim in Junior Nationals later this summer. I might just take a break from competition and focus on getting stronger.”

Reia Tong (Bethesda ) shows her strong freestyle on her way to breaking the girls' 15-18 IM record at All Stars. (Photo by Ginny Maycock)

Other than Conger and McTaggart’s combined four, three other MCSL records fell on Sunday. Reia Tong broke former Rockville standout Cara Chuang’s record in the girls’ 15-18 100 IM by .11 seconds with a time of 1:05.72, Woodcliffe‘s Noah Garvey shattered the boys’ 11-12 50 breaststroke record by .93 seconds, and Darnestown’s Jaycee Yegher broke the girls 13-14 50 breaststroke record by .11 seconds.

Other top races came in the boys’ 9-10 50 freestyle in which Gabriel Laracuente and Jacob Lindner tied for first. In the girls’ 11-12 50 meter freestyle, Daleview‘s Sammie Grant, Tilden Woods’ Celine Nugent, Mill Creek Towne‘s Ellie Matusek, and Little Falls’ Rachel Danegger all finished less than a second behind first place finisher Olivia French from Kentlands. In the boys’ 13-14 50 backstroke, Kentlands John Henneman, King Farm‘s Jase Ashkin, Rockshire‘s Daniel Yook, and Connecticut Belair’s  Griffin Alaniz were all within one second of winner John Jeang from Rockville.

All-Star Relay Carnival

The fastest relay squads in the MCSL showcased their speed on Saturday at the Section I All-Star Relay Carnival. Entering the meet the top two teams in 14 of the 22 events had seed times within one second of each other, setting up an exciting morning of racing.

Despite falling to Stonegate in the boys’ 14 & under 175 graduated freestyle relay at both the first dual meet of the season and divisionals, Rockville finished 1.19 seconds ahead of  second-place Germantown in Saturday’s event while Stonegate came in fourth.

“I’m not too worried about it,” said Stonegate coach Matt Mullenholz. “We were second in Division A this year which is way better than we expected. It is really cool to just stand and watch this meet because these are some of the fastest swimmers in the country,” added the former Gonzaga. “It speaks a lot about the talent we have on our team when we have a bunch of kids seeded low going against such competition.

Woodcliffe's winning boys' 11-12 medley relay from Saturday's All-Star Relays. (L-R) Sebastian Chang, Noah Garvey, Kevin Song, Justin Kim. (Photo provided by Jenny Garvey)

In undoubtedly the closest race of the day, the girls’ 14 & under 175 graduated freestyle relay featured another match up of Division A rivals as Bethesda and Upper County entered the event with identical seed times of 150.18. Bethesda was quicker to the wall when the two teams swam the event in week one of the dual meet season and at divisionals. Bethesda and Upper County tied for first as each team finished in 1:49.99.

“What an exciting race that was,” said Bethesda head coach Elizabeth Gutermann whose team completed their seventh straight season in Divison A this summer. “I think we’re pretty used to big meets with atmospheres like this,” added the former Potomac swimmer who has just finished her second year coach Bethesda. “Today and tomorrow we expect to have a pretty strong showing; we’re seeded to win a lot of races.”

Unique to All-Star Relays, the boys’ and girls’ open 200 medley relays, feature a team’s best swimmer in each stroke. Led by Barry Mangold, the Tilden Woods boys edged out Quince Orchard by .14 seconds. In the girls event, Elaina Gu, Jessica Chen, Scarlett Sun, and Emily Zhang helped Rockville cruise to victory.

As usual, this MCSL meet was dominated by the Rockville Rays. Rockville entered a team in 11 of the 22 relays and came away with five firsts, four seconds, and two thirds. In the mixed 13-14 200 freestyle relay, Rockville’s John Jeang, Lynn Zhang, Karl Treichel, and Elaina Gu broke the record set at last year’s all-stars by a Rockville team that featured Jeang and Gu. It was the only MCSL record broken on the day.

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