Snow might have provided a day off from school and a couple of days of rest before the Group AAA, Northwest Region Championships begin, but they it also increased the air of anticipation for the participants.
Especially for teams like Gar-Fields boys and Osbourn Parks girls, who are liking their chances of winning now that the psych sheets are out.
“It kind of changes things,” said Gar-Fields Brett MacLennan. “I kind of thought after districts, I thought I was on my individual [focus].”
With a chance at winning the regional team title, MacLennan says hes “10 times more excited.”
Success for Osbourn Parks girls will come with its depth.
At the Cedar Run District championships, rival Osbourn took six of 11 top finishes, and Stonewall Jackson took two more. The Yellow Jackets Erin Hammersley won the 100 and 200 freestyles and joined with Stephanie Webber, Emily Gers and Katie Mulholland to win the 400 freestyle relay.
However, Osbourn Park qualified at least 20 girls to go to regionals by finishing in the top eight at the Cedar Run meet.
If not for Hyltons Troy Sattgast, Gar-Fields boys undefeated in dual meets might also have swept all 11 first-place finishes at the Cardinal District meet.
The Bulldog junior, an all-Area first-teamer as a freshman, edged Gar-Fields Kyle Edgemon to win the 50 freestyle, then came back two events later and won the 500 freestyle by 15 seconds.
Sattgasts contributions helped Hylton nip Forest Park by a half-point for third place. He should score big points again for the Bulldogs at the regional meet.
One of the most impressive performances at the Cardinal District meet belonged to Gar-Fields Sarah Taylor.
It was just one of several things that made Gar-Field coach Rob Knoeppel say that he “could not be more proud” of his team.
In what Knoeppel said was “the most aggressive Ive seen her,” Taylor outswam her seed time to win the 200 freestyle. Knoeppel said that was the first gold medal at districts for a Gar-Field female.
The Indians took home three more before the night was over, including two from Liz Penning and another in the 200 freestyle relay by Kapo Leung, Christine White, Megan Foley and Taylor.
The Indians, traditionally a boys powerhouse, are taking more girls to regionals this year (15) than they are boys (13).
At Saturdays Commonwealth District meet, North Staffords Ryan Malkiewicz moved out of one of his better events, the butterfly, and moved to the backstroke. He took third, something coach Traci Abramson said was key for her team, which went on to win the boys championship.
Malkiewiczs move enabled Ryan Whittle, the ninth seed in the butterfly, to swim. He finished fifth by swimming 1:01.78, three seconds faster than his best time, scoring important points for the Wolverines.
The Commonwealth champions finished second in the region last season. Though they are without top swimmer Dan Slear, who graduated, North Stafford should be in the hunt for another top five finish with the help of Slears former relay teammates, Malkiewicz, Dan Harrigan and Bill Ingalls.
It bears mentioning that last years Northwest Region boys champion, Cave Spring, competes in Group AA as of the start of this season. The Knights were third in the state last year, behind Thomas Jefferson and Menchville, but their enrollment declined when a new school, Hidden Valley, opened in the Roanoke area.
Keith McMillan covers high school swimming for the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him via e-mail at [email protected]