Wildcats creep past Blazers in opening meet

Dec. 11, 2004, midnight | By Kristina Yang | 16 years, 1 month ago

Boys miss victory by one event; girls lag far behind


Coming into their first meet of the season against the Walter Johnson Wildcats, both the boys' and girls' swim teams knew that they were in for a tough battle: The Wildcats have dominated Montgomery County boys' swimming for the past six years, and their girls' lineup also includes several all-county swimmers. Though the Blazers swam a fast and spirited match, the boys fell just short of victory with a score of 79-92, and the girls suffered a 55-111 loss.

The Blazer boys began the meet with a strong showing in the 200 Medley Relay, taking first and third in the event to gain a 10-4 lead. Senior Ari Halper Stromberg, freshman Yang Yang and senior co-captain Patrick Detzner led the boys to first-place showings in each of the next three events, and several other Blair swimmers placed in the top five as well. By the end of the first half, the boys were ahead 39-23, and even Walter Johnson's sweep of the boys' diving event could not even the score in the Wildcats' favor.

Walter Johnson made a sudden turnaround in the second half of the meet, however, taking first-place and 11 out of the 16 possible points in each of the next two events to seize a 55-54 lead. Detzner and Yang fought back with first-place showings in the 500 Free and 100 Breast, respectively, but the Blazers still trailed 77-80 as they entered into the 400 Free Relay—the final event that would decide the boys' meet.

Like the majority of the other events, the 400 Free Relay began with Blair's strongest relay team matching the Wildcats stroke for stroke. Unfortunately for the Blazers, however, a few milliseconds of lag in each leg of the relay allowed Walter Johnson to take the lead by just a few inches, and two groups of Wildcats edged out Blair's third-place swimmers by only 93 and 61 milliseconds, respectively. Those crucial milliseconds gave Walter Johnson 12 points to the Blazers' two, sealing the Wildcat boys' victory.

While the boys' victory was up-for-grabs until the very last event, the girls' meet results were much more clear-cut from the start. Several of the Blazer girls swam personal bests in their events, but a stronger Walter Johnson squad took first in all of the first four swimming events and ended the first half with a 41-21 lead. Not a single Blair girl diver was present at the meet, giving the Wildcats an additional ten free points in the diving category.

The second half of the girls' meet proceeded in much the same fashion, with the Wildcats taking the gold in every event. Freshman Elissa Fischel, juniors Minh Huynh-Le and sophomore Sally Chang took eight of 16 possible points in the 100 Back, while senior Kendra Williams and junior Diana Frey captured second and third in the 100 Fly; overall, however, the girls team finished with mostly third- and fourth-place showings. By the time the 400 Free Relay began, the Blazers were down 51-101, and even a second-place finish in that last event could not overcome their 50-point deficit.

While neither of Blair's teams ended the meet with a victory, Coach David Swaney said that he is satisfied with the Blazers' performance. "We had some very good times, lots of great individual races,” he said. Though Swaney believes that both the boys' and girls' squads need to work on quicker flip-turns, he feels that the meet's results proved that "our boys are good enough to hang on high in Division I.”

Halper-Stromberg agrees with Swaney, explaining that the meet represented a solid start to the Blazers' season. "A lot of people had best times, and it's only the first meet of the season,” he said. "Over the next six meets, people will keep getting faster.”

The Blazers' next meet will occur at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. The meet will be hosted by the Richard Montgomery Rockets at the Rockville Municipal Swim Center.

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Kristina Yang. Kristina Yang is 1/10 of the Blair girls' volleyball team. When not on the court, she most likely to be running away from Magnet math homework, trying to pay off her three speeding/redlight tickets, or feeding her bubble tea addiction. She would also like to … More »

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