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By Lauren Rigg
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, February 25. WOOTTON High School came in just two points ahead of second-place Winston Churchill High School at Saturday's MPSSAA high school swimming state championship meet at the University of Maryland's Eppley Recreation Center. Both teams had top-scoring races throughout the meet, but in the end, it was the final 400 freestyle relay that Winston Churchill (3:33.76) won with a new Maryland state record over second-place Wootton, that ultimately determined the fate of the team rankings. Had Wootton gotten third in the event, the two teams would have tied for the championship title.
The meet began with a splash in the 200 medley relay where the Wootton girls set themselves up for their overall win with a first place finish and time of 1:49.64 over Sherwood (1:51.33) and Walter Johnson (1:52.46). Next, Elaina Gu pulled off Winston Churchill's first victory of the meet in the 200 freestyle, swimming a 1:52.89 to beat Montgomery Blair's Madison Waechter at 1:54.39 and Walter Johnson's Natsumi Horikawa at 1:55.99. Waechter, unsatisfied with her second place finish, returned with a vengeance in the 500 freestyle and took gold by five seconds in a time of 5:01.73. The freshman beat 200 freestyle victor Elaina Gu (5:06.38) and Einstein's Gail Anderson (5:08.32) in the process.
Emily Zhang of Wootton found herself atop the podium when she posted the winning time of 2:07.12 in the 200 IM, just ahead of Churchill's Hannah Lindsey (2:07.83) and Severna Park's Katie Parker (2:08.86). The meet had not seen the last of Lindsey, however, who came back to win the 100 backstroke with a Maryland state record time of 56.42. Kristina Lee of Wootton and Margarita Ryan of Sherwood rounded out the top three with respective times of 58.26 and 58.75.
Next, in a close race between two rival sophomores, Morgan Hill of Sherwood out-touched Catherine Johnson of Springbrook in the 50 freestyle with a 23.60 to Johnson's 24.36. Wooton's Jessica Chen found herself in third with a 24.77. Hill and Johnson battled again in the 100 freestyle where Hill again claimed first in a time of 51.71 and Johnson was bumped to third by Sarah Kannan of Walt Whitman. Kannan finished with a 53.59 and Johnson trailed in behind her at 53.76. It was an impressive show for Hill, who won the 100 butterfly event as a freshman the year before. Freshman Emily Wang took over Hill's 100 butterfly title when she, along with her senior teammate Emily Andrews, showed off Winston Churchill's talent in the butterfly and finished in first and third, respectively. They posted times of 57.87 and 59.23, compared to Maddy Zarchin's second place time of 58.47.
It was an impressive showing for Winston Churchill in diving when athletes Mashal Hashem (474.65) and Kali Becker (456.60) commandeered the top two spots. The girls helped their team to a second place overall finish when they placed just ahead of Emily Langworthy (420.95) of Damascus. Winston Churchill, Wootton and Richard Montgomery took the top three spots in the 200 freestyle relay before Park added a first place and new Maryland state record to her credentials in the 100 breaststroke when she finished with a 1:05.67. She conquered Chen (1:07.19) and Northwest's Jaycee Yegher (1:07.50) who had a close race for second.
A mix of individual wins and relay successes landed the Wootton girls atop the podium at the conclusion of the meet with 292.5 points and a first-place trophy. Winston Churchill came devastatingly close with 290.5 points and Walter Johnson finished third with 169.5.
Results: Maryland 4A/3A High School State Championships