Woodbridge girls narrowly win Cardinal swimming title

WOODBRIDGE A single point separated the six-time girls Cardinal District champion Woodbridge Vikings from Gar-Field on Saturday night.

A single point and the night’s final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Only when Sarah Lindberg poked her head out of the water at the end of the frantic race and raised her arm toward the Chinn Center ceiling could the Vikings breath easy.

For the seventh consecutive season, the Woodbridge girls could call themselves district champions.

“I knew going into it I had scored it a couple different ways I knew it was going to come down to the relays,” said Woodbridge coach Nancy Doggett, who is in her seventh season coaching the Vikings.

On the pool deck and in the water, both the Gar-Field and Woodbridge swimmers knew what Doggett knew.

“I think I scared all of them,” said Lindberg of her relay teammates, sophomores Elizabeth Bourquardez, Kristyn Schomp and Christine White.

“She said ‘you guys all have to get best times,'” Bourquardez recalled.

Each of the foursome said they could hear the wild cheering that filled the pool area, and Schomp said she could see coaches and teammates waving them on out of the corners of her eyes.

“The adrenaline really gets going,” said Doggett, “but that’s the most fun.”

“It’s hard to watch, [even though] you feel like you’ve done everything you can,” added Janel Danchak, who won the 50 and 500 freestyles and swam on the Vikings’ two other relays.

Through the first three legs of the relay, Woodbridge was neck-and-neck with foursomes from Hylton and Gar-Field. Anchor leg swimmers Carly Keith of the Bulldogs and Elizabeth White of the Indians kept pace with Lindberg over the first 25 yards of the final leg, but Lindberg pulled away for victory, in both the race and team points standings.

Woodbridge finished with 138 points, Gar-Field 131 and Hylton 113. Forest Park finished fourth with 76 points, a 25-point improvement over last season.

The Chinn Center pool deck was decorated with signs, many made by Woodbridge encouraging the Vikings to beat Gar-Field (like “Stomp the Indians”) and vice versa (“Burn the Bridge”).

That the Vikings edged out rival Gar-Field was a point not lost on the Woodbridge girls.

White credited wanting to beat Gar-Field as part of her inspiration in her leg of the final relay.

Danchak thought the score being close made the win more satisfying.

“That and because I’m a senior,” she said. “They’re our biggest rival, and knowing that we won all four years.”

Gar-Field head coach Rob Knoeppel wasn’t disappointed in his girls.

“No, not at all,” he said. “The girls I don’t think could have swam better. On the heat sheet, we should’ve lost by triple what we did.”

It helped ease him that the Gar-Field boys reclaimed the Cardinal District title that Woodbridge beat the Indians for at last season’s championships.

“We learned from our mistakes last year,” Knoeppel said.

“[The championship] was ours first, and we wanted it back,” said Ian Grand, one of seven Indian boys to take home multiple medals.

Brett MacLennan led the way, setting new district meet records in the 100 freestyle and 100 breast stroke. The senior’s freestyle time of 47.36 eclisped his seed time by nearly four-tenths of a second and smashed Christian Lindberg’s 2000 record of 49.04.

MacLennan also won the 100 breast stroke with a 58.94, breaking a record of 1:01.36 set by Osbourn’s Aaron Kendle in 2001.

Both of MacLennan’s times qualified him for the Feb. 14-15 state championships in Virginia Beach, and he also swam the anchor legs on two first-place freestyle relays for Gar-Field.

But his teammates had plenty of success as well. Andrew Hicks took home four gold medals, winning the backstroke, 50 freestyle and taking part in the medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

Chris Watson won the 200 freestyle and took second in the 500 freestyle.

Grand, Kyle Edgemon, Kyle Estep and Jonathan Orndorff all had multiple top-three finishes as Gar-Field ran away with the team title. The Indians scored 166.5, followed by Woodbridge at 124, Hylton at 84 and Forest Park at 83.5.

Edging the third-year Bruins for third was a pleasant surprise for first-year Hylton coach Anthony Pedersen, who swam for the Bulldogs in the late 1990s.

“I did not expect third,” he said. “We’re the smallest [boys] team by far, with 11 guys.”

Junior Troy Sattgast led the Hylton boys, finishing first in the butterfly and 500 freestyle. Matt Martinez took third in the 200 free and Stephen Holt took fourth in the 200 IM.

Carly Keith, Andrea Tom and Nicole Martinez led the Bulldog girls. Aside from combining with Alyssa Armstrong to edge Gar-Field for second in the 400 freestyle relay, the trio posted impressive individual finishes.

Keith won the 200 free and took third in backstroke. Tom and Martinez each took home two silver medals, Tom in the 50 free and the butterfly and Martinez in the 200 and 500 freestyles. Courtney White added a second and a third-place finish.

For Forest Park, narrowly missing its first third-place finish was a tough break for the boys, who improved by 12.5 points over last season’s score. Thomas Scovel, Amanda Hauck, Lindsey Horne, James Way and Samantha Markiewicz each medaled individually for the Bruins.

The Woodbridge girls, a four-time defending Northwest Region champion, will defend their title on Friday at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham. The top eight finishers (listed on this page) in each event advanced.

Doggett admitted that it may be a lot to ask for the Vikings to bring a fifth regional championship home. Cedar Run District champion Osbourn Park may be the favorite.

“It’s a different group,” said Doggett of her team. “I think it’ll be a very different regional.”

In district championship, at least for the past seven seasons, the results have been very much the same.

OP, Osbourn repeat

Osbourn’s boys held off a stiff challenge from Stonewall Jackson and Osbourn Park’s girls defeated the Raiders by 43 points as the Eagles and Yellow Jackets each won their second straight Cedar Run District championship on Saturday night.

Stonewall’s boys got off to a good start, winning the medley relay which Osbourn was disqualified from. The Raiders, which also had a swimmer disqualified from the 200 IM, led by 32 points after that first relay. But the Eagles came back with a 1-2-3-5 finish in the 100 freestyle and went on to a four-point victory.

“It was up and down all day,” said Stonewall Jackson coach Khristy Myers, whose team scored 325.50 points to Osbourn’s 329.50.

“The whole thing was pretty dramatic from the very beginning, Osbourn coach Jason Lucey said. “I’ve never seen a team be down 32 points from the start and come back and win in a district meet. I don’t know how they did it.”

Lucey said his team was serious from the first race, feeling they had something to prove. The Eagles were disqualified for leaving before the touch during the relay and scored no points. Lucey felt his team would have won the race if not for the disqualification.

The competition was close even as Stonewall freshman Zachary Hayden and Osbourn senior Josh Nicoletti tied for first in the final individual event, the breast stroke. Both swimmers swam a 1:02.46, then Osbourn Park’s Andrew MacGregor and Josh Reed finished third and fourth, and Osbourn’s David Gartin and Nick Rhoades finished fifth and sixth, scoring important points for the Eagles.

Erin Hammersley took two individual first places and swam with Stephanie Webber, Emily Gers and Katie Mulholland for another win in the 400 freestyle relay as the Yellow Jacket girls successfully defended their district championship.

Nicole Snyder, Elizabeth Mueller and Audrey Pietrzyk each won an individual event for Osbourn, and freshman teammate Sarah Ameen won twice. But Ameen and Hammersley, who usually swim some of the same events, did not go head-to-head.

“I would like to see what she could do up against the best,” Lucey said.

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