By Lauren Rigg
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, February 25. POOLESVILLE High School had a strong showing in the MPSSAA 3A/2A/1A swimming and diving state championship last Saturday at the University of Maryland’s Eppley Recreation Center. The girls’ team finished second behind C Milton Wright High School, who won with 327.5 points, while the men’s team took home the title with 346 points, almost double that of Queen Anne’s in second.
“A couple swims got away from us [on the girls' side] but everyone left it all in the pool and tried their hardest and that’s all I can ask for,” Poolesville head coach Johnny Leong told Gazette.net after the meet.
C Milton Wright jumped to an early lead over Poolesville after winning the 200 medley elegy with a 1:56.19 to Poolesville’s 1:59.12. C Milton Wright’s Megan Cowan kept the winning streak going with a 1:56.52 in the 200 freestyle shortly after. She became a two-time individual champion when she won the 500 freestyle in a 5:16.05 later on.
Dorit Song of Poolesville beat out C Milton Wright competitor Lauren O’Mara in the 200 IM, finishing with a 2:10.64, nearly four seconds ahead of O’Mara at 2:14.36. Song could be seen atop the podium again after the 100 freestyle, where she finished with another dominating lead over her second place challenger from Rockville. One of two double event winners in the meet, Song posted a 52.98 to Meghan Karl’s 55.76.
Sayaka Vaules came out on top in the 50 freestyle, out-touching Page Fox of Frederick (25.29) by only four one-hundredths of a second and posting a 25.25. Fox, however, returned to win the 100 backstroke with a 1:02.03 later on, finishing her high school career on a high note.
The 100 butterfly showcased underclassmen talent as two freshmen vied for the win. It ended with Rocksville swimmer Alexa Stewart in the top position with a 1:00.05 and Franny Wu taking home the silver with a 1:01.79.
The 100 breaststroke landed the O’Mara sisters in command when Lauren, second place finisher of the 200 IM, won with a 1:07.49 to her sister Julia’s 1:09.30. The final relay was the most adrenaline packed of the meet as it ended with a tie between C Milton Wright and Poolesville. Both teams swam a 3:43.23, but the race solidified C Milton Wright’s overall position in first. In fact, winning all three relays really marked them as the team to beat.
Poolesville started and ended the meet with wins in the relay events and also placed first in the 200 freestyle relay in between. The relay wins, along with individual wins by Xavier Laracuente in the 50 and 100 freestyle (21.84 and 47.59) and Jacob Weiss in the 100 butterfly (52.96), enabled the Poolesville boys to claim their third consecutive state title.
The meet was also a success for Northern High School’s Ben Lawless, who claimed first place and set two new Maryland State records in both the 200 and 500 freestyle. Lawless posted a 1:39.40 in the 200 freestyle, crushing the record by over a second and beating second place swimmer Griffin Alaniz from Rockville (1:45.95). Lawless overcame Mitchell Reynolds from Frederick by nearly 30 seconds in the 500 freestyle when he swam a 4:26.17 to Reynolds’ 4:54.27, again smashing the previous state record by over a second.
Ryan O’Leary from Damascus became the third double event winner of the meet when he conquered the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke in times of 1:59.87 and 1:00.08, respectively. Nolan McMahon from Cambridge/SD posed the main threat to O’Leary and placed second in both events with times of 2:01.65 and 1:00.57.
Alaniz was the only other individual winner of the meet and came back to swim a 52.73 in the 100 backstroke after his second place finish in the 200 freestyle. Overall, Poolesville’s relays distinguished them as the clear championship team, but the individual spotlight fell on the senior Ben Lawless, who really left his mark on Maryland high school swimming.