Raiders swim teams sweeps Hurricanes
By JAMES A. McCRAY III
What a way to begin the high school swimming season than with a meeting between two champions.
The 2011-12 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference regular season boys swimming champion Leonardtown Raiders and the 2011-12 SMAC championships champion Huntingtown Hurricanes welcomed the other into the 2012-13 season, kicking off the new season in a head-to-head meeting on Friday evening at the Lackey High School pool.
The early-season test was passed with flying colors, however, by the Raiders boys winning by the slight margin of 145-133 over Huntingtown. The Raiders swept the meet as the Raiders girls won by the score of 201-76.
For the Leonardtown boys, individual double winners Grant Pate (200- and 500-yard freestyle) and Caleb Kaslik (100 free and 100 breaststroke) were the catalysts of surviving the early-season challenge presented by the Hurricanes.
“Amazing,” Pate said of the win. “I could not be as proud as I am right now.”
The senior distance swimmer even outlasted a mishap during his 500 free victory.
“It was good in the 200, but in the 500, I kind of messed up,” said Pate, who finished the 500 in 5 minutes 22.85 seconds. “I thought I was done and I stopped. I stopped for four seconds … but I still got the win.”
Leonardtown head coach Chuck Jacobs was happy with his boys team (1-0 overall) that finished with six first-place finishes versus five first-place finishes for Huntingtown.
“They showed a little character,” Jacobs said of his boys. “Chris [Morgan, Huntingtown head coach] is always going to have his kids ready. I think he is a true coach at heart. … The boys showed me a little bit and we had a couple of great swims that really catapulted us. … That was the difference for us.”
Taylor Osvatics was the additional Leonardtown individual winner in the 100 butterfly, backed with a win from the Leonardtown 200 medley relay team.
“I’m ready for the entire season now,” Pate said. “This team has backed me so much, I’m so happy to be on it.”
Morgan was impressed with his boys team that came up just short of earning an opening-season win saying that his boys swimmers, “went all out.”
Mike Jones (200 individual medley), David Alman (50 free) and Jarret Daniels (100 backstroke) each pulled in individual wins for the Hurricanes (0-1).
“They have a lot of heart and they don’t give up,” Morgan said of his boys. “They displayed perseverance and I think we just have to work harder. We started out like this last year, with Leonardtown in the first meet, and it motivated them. They know now what they have to look forward to in the SMAC championship. This will show them where they need to be.”
The 2011-12 SMAC regular season and SMAC championships champion Raiders girls started this season off as the team has for a now ninth-straight season, 1-0, with its win on Friday night.
Led by junior Mairyn Branaman, the two-time All-County girls Athlete of the Year and reigning All-SMAC Most Outstanding Player, the Raiders cruised to the win. Branaman won individual races in the 200 IM and 100 fly on Friday night over the Hurricanes (0-1).
“Well, we have all been working really hard early on in the season and we just really came together,” Branaman said. “It was all about having fun.”
On the goals for this season, Branaman added, “We are definitely looking to improve our times from last year. We want to bond as a team and really have fun and everything from there on is [a bonus].”
Rachel Aaron (200 free and 500 free) and freshman Maddie Snow (50 free and 100 back) were also double-winners for the 1-0 Raiders.
“I do distance, so I just go,” Aaron said with a laugh. “I have been swimming the same events now; this is my third year, so pretty much every meet.”
The Leonardtown girls won every race on Friday, but Morgan believes he knows the key for his girls, and his team, improving through the early stages of the season.
“They are a little out of shape,” Morgan said. “They have to work on building that endurance and with endurance; they will be able to hold that speed longer.”