Woodson, James Madison Win VHSL Class 6 Championships; Huske and Grimm Shine

by Matt Rees 1

February 23rd, 2020 High School, News

2020 Virginia High School League Class 6 State Championships

  • February 22, 2020
  • Jim McKay Natatorium, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
  • SCY
  • Results on Meet Mobile: “2020 VHSL Class 6 State Meet”

Recap courtesy of longtime SwimSwam contributor Matt Rees.

It’s not easy for a freshman swimmer who sets two state records to be overshadowed at a high school meet, but it happened at Virginia’s class 6 state championship meet on Saturday night. That’s because the meet, held at George Mason University, featured two of the country’s most accomplished high school swimmers, juniors Torri Huske and Anthony Grimm, and the dynamic duo delivered standout performances. But the freshman, Camille Spink, delivered the latest reminder that Virginia’s pool of swimming talent runs deep – very deep.

The most anticipated race of the night was the girls 100 fly. At this meet last year, Huske set the swimming world on fire by uncorking a 51.21, which set a new national high school record in the event. She went on to win multiple gold medals at last summer’s World Junior Championship meet in Budapest. But a few weeks ago, Claire Curzan knocked close to a second off Huske’s high school record. Northern Virginia’s legions of dedicated swim fans, who have watched Huske’s rapid progress in the past few years, anxiously awaited seeing whether she could take the record back at the state meet.

Almost. While she lowered her public school record, going 50.69 – a time that would have placed sixth at last year’s NCAA championship meet – she was a few tenths off Curzan’s mark (see the race here). But the race came immediately after her blazing 21.83 in the 50 free (see the race here), which lowered her state record and came tantalizingly close to the national record (21.59) set by Gretchen Walsh two weeks ago. And Huske was swimming without much of a taper, having rested for just two days. In other words, Huske can swim faster – and almost certainly will.

She started the meet with a 23.52 butterfly leg in the 200 medley relay, which helped propel her Yorktown squad to victory (1:43.48 – see the race here), and she closed out the meet with a 48.43 leg in the 400 free relay, which Yorktown (alma mater of Olympic gold medal swimmer Tom Dolan and TV personality Katie Couric) also won (3:27.04). All in all, not a bad night, which Huske talked about in a post-meet interview with SwimSwam.

As for Grimm, SwimSwam’s top ranked high school junior in the nation, the 50 free was his marquee race of the night. With an explosive start and smooth underwaters, he finished in 19.79, which puts him in a select corps of high school swimmers who have gone under 20 (see the race here), and only half a second away from Caeleb Dressel’s national high school record. While the time was slightly slower than Grimm swam at last year’s state championship meet (19.67), the University of Texas commit is coming off a back injury that led to him being out of the pool for two months recently, and he’s only been training again for the past six weeks.

Later in the meet, he swam the 100 breaststroke, and walked to the blocks with “Stronger” blaring on the sound system. With Kanye West crooning about “harder, faster, better, stronger,” the song fit the moment, and Grimm fed off the energy to set a new Virginia state record (53.86 – see the race here), just squeezing past the 53.90 mark set by Andrew Seliskar (last year’s NCAA swimmer of the year) in 2014. Grimm’s other swims of the night were a 21.25 backstroke leg to lead off Oakton’s 200 medley relay, which finished third, and a 44.75 split in the 400 free relay, which Oakton won.

Nearly as impressive were the swims by Spink, a precocious freshman who chose a walkout song for the 200 free, “I Want it That Way,” released before she was born. The mellow tempo didn’t faze her, as her winning time of 1:46.18 (see the race here) took down the previous 6A record (1:46.53) set by Sinead Eksteen in 2017. And Spink just missed setting Virginia’s all-time record (1:46.07), which is held by none other Huske, who established the mark earlier this month. Spink, who swims for Battlefield, came back later in the meet to win the 100 free with a 49.18 (see the race here). Her time set a new Virginia 6A record and missed the state’s all-time record by just .03.

Sam Oliver, an Auburn commit, scored very impressive victories in the 200 free (1:39.32) and the 500 free (4:22.99) – dropping more than nine seconds from his prelims time in the latter race and lowering the state record he’d set a week earlier.

Grace Sheble also set a Virginia state record in the 200 IM. The junior from James River delivered a 1:57.03 (see the race here), which won the race by more than four seconds. Finishing second was James Madison senior Anna Keating, a University of Virginia commit whose 59.76 in the 100 breaststroke lowered the state record she had already (see the race here).

Other individual winners were:

Other relay winners were:

  • Woodson, boys 200 medley relay – 1:32.07 (see the race here)
  • Washington-Liberty, boys 200 free relay – 1:25.22
  • James Madison, girls 200 free relay – 1:35.11

Woodson won the boys team title (its first since 1993) while James Madison won the girls title.

Looking ahead, Huske, Grimm, Spink, Sheble and others will all be competing again at next year’s state meet – underscoring Virginia’s well-deserved reputation as a haven for speedy swimming. In the meantime, Huske, who has not announced where she will be attending college, is in strong contention to make the U.S. squad in the 100 fly. Tellingly, one of her walkout songs at Saturday night’s meet was “You Make My Dreams Come True” by multi-generational pop stars Hall & Oates. Will her dream of securing a spot on the Olympic team come true in Omaha this June? Stay tuned.

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Swim Parent
9 months ago

Congrats to all the wonderful swimmers and their records, but JMHS won their 4th consecutive title and there is little talk over that. Not many teams accomplish that