Note: Virginia is in a rather unique situation, with five different public school championship meets (Virginia High School League Divisions 2A-6A), and a separate private school meet (Virginia Independent Schools Sports Association). This is the first in a planned series of recaps of each meet.
6A Meet – February 20, Collegiate School Aquatic Center, Richmond
Full meet results available here.
Texas commit and senior John Shebat led a deep Oakton team to overcome a Robinson team which had won the state title the past two years. Shebat and Oakton came storming out in the first event, as Shebat’s 21.71 backstroke split led Oakton to win the 200 medley relay by more than a second over second place Cox High School. Shebat would add individual wins in the 200 IM (1:46.36) and the 100 back (47.46).
While Oakton had already put more swimmers into finals, making them likely to win from the beginning of the evening, the Robinson swimmers did not let up, led by juniors James Jones and James Murphy. Jones won the 50 free (20.19) and 100 free (44.45), and Murphy won the 200 free (1:38.29) and 500 free (4:27.20). None of those races was particularly close, as Jones and Murphy led from beginning to end each time. But on a dramatic anchor leg of the 200 free relay, Shebat out split Jones 19.3 to 19.8, allow Oakton to take down Robinson 1:23.26 to 1:23.35.
A sophomore from Stonewall Jackson, Samuel Pomajevich, won the 100 fly in 49.27. But Oakton would pick up wins in the last two individual events, as Shebat won the 100 back by almost three seconds, and fellow senior Michael Pettinichi won the 100 breast in 56.99.
Robinson and Oakton went 1-2 in the 400 free relay. Robinson easily won in 3:06.04, but Oakton already had the score sown up by that point, and ended up winning 293-231.
In a much closer race, the Langley girls deprived Oakton of a sweep, winning 206-204.
Despite being the eventual state championship, Langley’s medley relay team finished 17th in preliminaries, with the title in the evening going to the Chantilly Chargers, who won in a time of 1:44.51.
The 200 free was the first of several closely contested races, as Oakton junior Megan Byrnes finished in 1:48.61, beating West Springfield senior Robyn Dryer (1:49.10) and Langley sophomore Isabella Rongione (1:49.17).
West Potomac freshman and USA Junior National Team member Cassidy Bayer easily won the 200 IM in 1:59.19. She would also win the 100 fly by over a second in a time of 53.67. Yorktown junior Suzanne Dolan touch first in the 50 free, recording a time of 22.81. The runner up in the 50 free, Robinson junior Hannah Baker, came back to win the 100 free in 50.37.
In one of the most exciting races of the evening, Byrnes and Rongione went to head-to-head in the 500 free. Byrnes went out almost a second faster than Rongione in the first 100, and while Rongione would steadily chip away at that lead over the next 400 yards, Byrnes managed to win 4:43.43 to 4:43.61. Byrnes would be back in the water shortly thereafter, leading off Oakton’s winning 200 free relay, as they held off Robinson 1:35.53 to 1:36.55
Of the top three teams, only Langley managed to have a swimmer in the A final of the 100 back, and the victory went to Herndon sophomore Emily Meilus in a time of 55.08. It was a similar story in the 100 breast, as Yorktown junior Suzanne Dolan’s 1:02.48 led a field that did include any swimmers from Oakton or Langley in either final.
Thus, the state championship would come down to the final event. Once again, Megan Byrnes got her team off to a great start, leading off the 400 free relay in a time of 52.04. Langley and Robinson tried to battle back, and all three teams finished within a second of each other. Robinson finished third, in 3:29. 93, Langley second in 3:29.58, and Oakton again took the victory in 3:29.00. But, Langley’s second-place finish was enough for them to hang on to the lead.