Silver Chips Online

Blair swim and dive pounces on unsuspecting Cougars

Blazers split against Quince Orchard, girls edged out 89-82

By Deepa Chellappa, Online Editor-in-Chief
January 22, 2009
The Blair swim and dive team (4-0) landed a victory against the Quince Orchard Cougars on Saturday with a score of 183-157. The boys easily coasted on way to a 101-68 win, but the girls' side was much closer with the Cougars inching out a seven-point lead in the last few events to win 89-82.


Both the boys and girls started the meet in the same way, with first and third-place wins in the 200-yard medley relays. In the boys' event, sophomore Winston Liu gained a substantial lead in the first 25 yards, setting a fast pace that sophomore Eric Ruggieri, junior Jeff Lin and freshman Nik Hammond carried through to win with a time of 1:46.57, almost 15 seconds ahead of the second place Quince Orchard team. In the girls' event, senior Melanie Snail and junior Allison Arai remained just behind their Quince Orchard competitors until junior Jenna Williams pushed ahead during the Butterfly stroke to give the Blazer ladies a first place win with a time of 2:01.26.


The girls' and boys' teams also took second and third places in the 200-yard individual medley. In the boys' event, Ruggieri fell behind in the first leg of the race to take second place with a time of 2:08.69 and junior Matt Kannan kept a steady pace to earn third with 2:11.12. "I dropped four seconds on my time so that was a big accomplishment," Kannan said after the race. "I was happy because I worked on my breaststroke all week and it really helped me."


In the boys' 50-yard freestyle, senior Andrew McGehee was an obvious powerhouse, easily shutting out his opponents to win first place with a time of 22.01. Junior Nate Hukill finished just behind the second place Cougar to win third with a time of 24.41. In the girls' event, Snail and her opponent in lane five were neck-and-neck until the last tenths of a second of the race, during which Snail inched ahead to win first by a mere fingertip with a time of 26.47. "Andrew and Melanie both missed Blair records by tenths of a second," coach David Swaney said later. "They were really fast swims."


Midway through the meet, the Blazer boys were eight points ahead of the Cougars, while the girls were in the lead by two points. As the meet continued, sophomore Sophia Seidell won first in the diving events with a score of 128.65, the only Blazer diver to place during the meet.


In the 100-yard butterfly, Lin easily took first place with a time of 54.86, displaying powerful strokes and a measured streamline that allowed him to gain a five second lead over his Quince Orchard opponent. Kannan earned third with 59.37, shaving four seconds off his previous time. "That mostly came from Mr.Swaney's advice," Kannan explained. "He told me to use my kick more and that definitely helped." In the girls' event, Snail kept pace with her opponent until the final 25 yards, when Snail fell slightly behind and finished second with 1:04.03.


The 500-yard freestyle event was no competition for the Blazer boys. Hammond easily claimed first with a time of 5:17.84 and was followed by Hukill in a time of 5:40.53. Freshman Lenna Castro and sophomore Jenny Sholar won second and third respectively in the girls' event, earning key points to help the Blazer ladies remain closely matched with the Cougars.


The 100-yard backstroke saw victories for the boys and girls. Liu easily sped ahead to earn first place with a time of 1:00.51. In the girls' event, sophomore Emily Shih placed second with a time of 1:13.12 after fighting a fierce battle for first place with the Cougar girl in lane five.


Coming into the final event of the meet, the 400-yard freestyle relays, the Blazer girls were just four points behind the Cougars and earnestly lined up by the side of the pool to cheer on the relay teams. Juniors Williams and Larissa Antonisse, sophomore Laura McGehee and freshman Lenna Castro were unable to keep up with the faster Quince Orchard girls, but earned second with a time of 4:05.72. Unfortunately, the other girls' relay team was out-touched by mere tenths of a second, giving the Cougars the third-place win.


Swaney noted after the meet that while the Blazers have shown improvement in many skills, they still have more work ahead to ensure wins in the relays. "Their strokes are getting better," he said. "But I saw lots of sloppy turns especially during the relays, so that's what I want to work on this week."


Both the captains and Swaney agreed that despite the loss, the girls have been showing steady improvement so far in the season. "We haven't won this many meets in almost 10 years," senior co-captain Melissa Mergner said. "It's definitely because we have more depth - we have some swimmers who are really really good and other girls that are really solid," she explained, "so even if we don't win first, we get second and third."


Overall, Swaney commended the Blazers for great swims throughout the morning. "It was a close meet, so everyone was pumped up," he said. "It was the best kind of meet."


The Blazers' next meet is Saturday, Jan. 24 against Richard Montgomery at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center at 9:15 a.m.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8863