Virginia High School League Class 6 Championships
- Friday, February 15th, 2019
- George Mason University Aquatic Center, Fairfax, VA
- Full Results
Note: In Virginia, public schools and independent schools compete separately, with the Virginia High School League governing public schools, and the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association governing independent schools. VHSL is organized into six classes, with Class 6(A) being the largest, and hosts five separate state championship meets. VISAA runs its own state championship meet.
The state of Virginia has had a long history of swimming success, boasting Olympic gold medalists Tom Dolan and Jeff Rouse, among others. Perhaps buoyed by the success of superstars Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, both natives of neighboring Maryland, as well as a thriving club program that includes NCAP, one the largest and most successful club teams in the nation, the state seems to have to kicked into overdrive over the past 5-10 years. Virginia swim fans have been able to watch kids like Andrew Seliskar, Townley Haas, John Shebat, Janet Hu, and Cassidy Bayer set national age group records, make the U.S. National Team, and go on to help college teams win national titles.
If the VHSL Class 6 meet was any indication, it looks like the state’s pipeline of top-notch swimmers is in good shape, as we got historic performances from a pair of sophomores, as well as spirited team battles that resulted in the Oakton boys and James Madison girls taking the team titles.
The Oakton Cougars continued their run as one of the strongest teams in the state of Virginia, winning the VHSL Class 6 Championships behind wins from Anthony Grimm, Daniel Gyenis, Nick Highman, and a pair of relays.
Grimm, only a sophomore, had the most impressive swim of the meet, a 20.87 leadoff on the medley relay that not only helped Oakton secure the win in that event, but also appears to make Grimm the first high school swimmer ever to break under 21. He was joined by Highman (26.00), Kyle McCleskey (23.26) and Zach Baker (21.70), as Oakton won in 1:31.83.
That swim was only the first in a string of dominating performances for Grimm, who also won the 50 free in 19.67, setting new 6A and state records, and anchored Oakton’s winning 200 free relay in 19.28. We don’t have an exact list, but both of those times are among the fastest swims ever in high school competition. Graham Evers (22.30), Gyenis (20.47), and Albert Xu (21.70) rounded out Oakton’s 200 free relay, winning by 1.5 seconds with a time of 1:23.75. Grimm was also the top seed in the 100 back, but didn’t swim in finals.
Gyenis, a UVA commit, set a new 6A and state record of his own in the 500 free, winning in 4:24.42 after taking 2nd in the 200 free earlier in the session. Oakton also got a win from Highman, a Lehigh commit, who came out on top in an incredibly close 200 IM to defend his title in the event.
With Grimm only getting to swim one individual final, Cason Wilburn was the only boy to win two individual events. Wilburn, a First Colonial senior and Notre Dame commit, won the 200 free with a 1:35.93, setting a new 6A state record, and just a bit off of the overall state mark of 1:35.76, set by current Cal senior Andrew Seliskar in 2015. Wilburn came back to win the 100 fly in 48.12, another 6A record. Wilburn swept the 50 free and the 100 free at last year’s meet.
While First Colonial’s relays weren’t in the hunt for team titles, Wilburn still managed to throw down some strong splits. He was the only boy besides Grimm to go sub-20, splitting 19.77 (prelims) and 19.89 (finals) anchoring the 200 free relay, and going 44.40 anchoring the 400 free relay in prelims.
Washington-Lee’s Kai Green won the 100 free in 46.55, Langley senior and VT commit Will Koeppen took the 100 back in 50.11, and Ocean Lakes’ Kendall Ewing won the 100 breast in 55.38, while Washington-Lee won the 400 free relay in 3:07.65.
This was Oakton’s first state championship since 2015, when they were led by John Shebat, who will be a senior at Texas this year as the Longhorns look for their 5th-straight NCAA title.
Top Five Teams:
1. Oakton High School 226.5
2. Woodson Cavaliers 190
3. James Madison High School 187
4. Battleield High School 163
5. Washington-Lee High School 155
In just about any swim meet, but especially at a high school state championship, sometimes the team title is more about depth than about eye-catching swims. In this case, James Madison had enough depth to narrowly beat First Colonial, 212 to 208, and earn its 3rd-straight title, despite only winning one event. That event was the 100 breast, which junior Anna Keating, a UVA commit, won in 1:01.26, setting new 6A and state records.
Yorktown came in 3rd place, thanks largely to the show put on by sophomore Tori Huske. She dropped a 51.29 in the 100 fly, setting a new national high school record, and also won the 50 free in 21.95, setting new 6A and overall state records. That time is also only three-tenths the national high school record of 21.64, held by Abbey Weitzeil, and Huske still has two more years to break it.
The only other event Yorktown won was was the medley relay, where Mary Kate Reicherter (26.74), Kayle Parker (29.62), Huske (23.04), and Caroline Burgerson (23.76) combined for a 1:43.16 finish. Second place in that event went to Centreville, who got a stunning 22.72 split by Lexi Cuomo, en route to a 1:43.72 finish. Cuomo, who will be joining Gyenis at UVA in the fall, also had a pair of 2nd-place finishes, with a 52.01 100 fly that would be the headliner at just about any other high school championship meet, and a 55.17 in the 100 back.
First Colonial, coached by Cassandre Wilburn, Cason’s mother, actually earned the most event titles, taking four individual events and two relays en route to a 2nd-place finish.
Junior Elle Caldow, who’s committed to Tennessee, led the way with 1:47.39 victory in the 200 free, and a 53.91 win the 100 back, the latter time a new 6A record. Sophomore Samatha Tadder also picked up two wins, going 1:59.88 in the 200 IM and 4:49.28 in the 500 free.
First Colonial also swept the freestyle events, with both wins setting new states records. First, Keirstin Godfrey (23.74), Caldow (23.28), Lilja Mckendry (24.74) and Tadder (22.41) combined to win the 200 free in 1:34.17. Then, Olivia Tillett (54.48), Caldow (50.58), Godfrey (51.03), and Tadder (49.57) wrapped up the meet with a 3:25.66 in the 400 free relay.
Kellam’s Nicole Venema was the other individual event winner, setting a new 6A record in the 100 back with a 49.68.
Top Five Teams:
1. James Madison High School 212
2. First Colonial HS 208
3. Yorktown High School 194
4. Oakton High School 167
5. Lake Braddock 137