- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Swimmers bow to Raiders, Warriors
By DALLAS COGLE
Senior Grant Pate described his Leonardtown boys swim team Wednesday as “a strong engine that can run.”
That was right after the deep, talented Raiders really did look like machines in the water by winning seven events and impressively claiming at least two of the top three placements in all 11 races.
A solid La Plata Warriors outfit and the Calvert Cavaliers must have felt like they were swimming against a boat-like force as the unbeaten Leonardtown boys (3-0) cruised to sweeping victory in the tri-meet. They handily downed La Plata, 189-90, and Calvert, 213-60.
“We’re very well put together as a team,” Pate said after he won the marathon 500 freestyle in 5 minutes 20.49 seconds. “This team is rolling, and our coach is helping us roll. This team is going to grow and get stronger as we go [throughout this season].”
Last Friday, the Leonardtown boys avenged its loss from a year ago in the SMAC championships postseason meet by outlasting Huntingtown, 145-133. The Leonardtown boys were undefeated through the regular season last year until settling for a runner-up finish behind Huntingtown in the SMAC championships.
“I think we’ve got a really good team this year, it’s all very balanced and we’ve got our events down, lock-and-key,” Leonardtown sophomore Taylor Osvatics said after he claimed first in the 100 fly. “I think we’re going to do very, very good at SMAC. I’m not surprised [we won by large margins over La Plata and Calvert] because this Leonardtown boys team is very balanced, like I said.”
Sophomore Caleb Kaslik headlined the Leonardtown boys by winning the 100 free and 100 breast.
The Leonardtown boys also swept all three relay events of the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free.
The Leonardtown girls were just as impressive as they remained perfect at 3-0 this young season by sweeping La Plata, 202-77, and Calvert, 215-62.
Paced by double winner in freshman standout Maddie Snow (100 back, 200 individual medley), the Leonardtown girls captured the top time in nine races while, like their boys teammates, registered at least two of the top three placements in all 11 events as they showcased their immense depth and skills.
The Leonardtown girls are after their ninth straight perfect regular season in the SMAC with hopes of repeating as champion of the league meet in the postseason.
“Last year was one of those miracle years for us [on the boys side]. We went undefeated but we really were the underdog in some cases,” Leonardtown head coach Chuck Jacobs said. “As far as this year’s team [on both the boys and girls sides], it’s just a great bunch of kids. We’re very fortunate because we have a tradition of just working hard, and our record reflects that. It’s not because the kids are just lucky, or something like that. The kids actually have a great mentality about working hard.”
Reigning SMAC and county girls MVP Mairyn Branaman was among the Leonardtown girls winners, taking first in the 100 fly, while female teammates Michelle Wood (200 free), Rachel Aaron (500 free) and Laurel Kamosa (100 breast) also boasted the top times in their events.
The Leonardtown girls also tasted victory in all three relays.
“We always talk about the toughest person to beat is the person we look at in the mirror,” Jacobs added. “We set our goals and talk about that constantly.”
La Plata, now with 3-2 records for both its boys and girls teams, managed to come away with a split Wednesday by defeating the Calvert boys, 181-83, and the Calvert girls, 183-93.
Junior Eric Matteson led the La Plata boys with victories in the 200 free and 100 back. Teammate Ethan Chung was also a winner in his 200 individual medley event.
The La Plata girls were spearheaded by reigning county girls MVP Abby Belote, whose stellar sprinting skills in the water saw her take first in the 50 free and 100 free.
“Overall, I’m pretty happy,” Belote said, despite dealing with banged-up shoulders this season, stemming from her surgery a couple years ago, that has kept her from practicing. “It’s getting tougher [dealing with the shoulders], but hopefully I just get into the mentality that I can drop more time and that will help.”
Dealing with the shoulder issues is something Belote dealt with last year.
“I’m really proud of my team,” she added. “I think this is a good meet to tell where we are because Leonardtown is really good. They win SMAC every year so I feel like we did pretty well against them.”
La Plata head coach Joann Exline added, “We don’t necessarily focus on the [team] scores. We focus on individual times and [the swimmers’] expectations of being a team and working together. The scores will reflect if they work together as a team.
“[Our swimmers] have been through three different coaches the last three years so it’s been a tough ride for them.”
Calvert boys senior captain Dan America, dubbed Captain America for obvious reasons by his team, captured first in the 50 free.
“It was definitely a challenge and we had a lot of extracurricular activities [involving our swimmers] and some kids couldn’t be here tonight, plus there was also a lot of sickness,” America said. “It’s a little bit daunting [when see how good the Leonardtown boys are], but you’ve got to bite the bullet, charge hard and go [compete].”
No Calvert girls swimmers managed a first place in any event, but senior captain Cara Mathers was still encouraged.
“Both these [Leonardtown and La Plata] teams have been known to be very good,” Mathers said, noting that she set a personal record in all her events Wednesday. “Before this meet at last night’s practices, the captains, we had a little talk with our team. We said, ‘Hey, they’re good teams but don’t let that stop you from doing your personal best. Focus on improving from the last meet and then you should be proud.’
“Over half of our team is new. The fact they’re able to flip-turn and finishing these races, it’s incredible.”