Heading into the 200-yard freestyle relay, Gonzaga College High School swimming coach Josh Klotz told his team that things weren’t looking good in their meet against rival Georgetown Prep.
“That was sort of like a slap in the face,” Gonzaga senior William Lichtenfels said.
But the Eagles responded. Lichtenfels, senior William Bloom, junior Drew Bell, and senior Paul O’Hara finished the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:29.73, more than four seconds ahead of second place.
Gonzaga went on to tie Georgetown Prep (93-93) and defeat DeMatha Catholic (137-46), keeping its undefeated season alive on Saturday at Rockville.
“We’re about to enter our championship season and this was definitely a fun day to mix up some events as we’re getting ready, and to honor the seniors as we go into our championship meet,” said Klotz, a second-year coach. “It’s a good gauge as we slowly start to get into our rest period of the season to see where we are.”
The Eagles and Little Hoyas have won the past nine Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships, with Gonzaga winning the last two and Georgetown Prep winning the seven before that.
“It’s what it should be. We should have tied Gonzaga,” Georgetown Prep coach Matt Mongelli said. “We had some good swims, we had a couple OK [swims]. It was a good way to start off our next five weeks of championship season.”
Gonzaga graduated 15 swimmers from last year, leaving this season’s team with several new faces.
“So many kids that we don’t have anymore,” said O’Hara, who won the 50-yard freestyle for the Bulldogs (21.34).
The team, though, looked to be in good position to win its third consecutive championship after Saturday’s performance.
Upperclassmen have taken on greater roles and the underclassmen have filled in for the departed seniors.
Sophomore Brennan Novak won the 200-yard freestyle, freshman Tristan Warder won the 1-meter diving competition, and freshman Ryan Baker was part of the 200-yard medley relay team — along with O’Hara, junior Andrew Valentine, and Lichtenfels — that finished .14 seconds out of first place (1:39.41).
“Our younger kids, our freshmen, really stepped up today and scored major points for us,” Klotz said. “So did our sophomores. It was exactly what we were hoping for them to do. When you graduate a large class like that there’s going to be a lot of holes and these guys have been chomping at the bits to replace them and get in there and win. Take over the legacy of the Gonzaga swim club.”
Georgetown Prep, which beat DeMatha 140-43, won seven of the 12 competitions, relying on its sophomore class.
Sophomore Carsten Vissering placed first in the 200-yard individual medley (1:55.23) and the 500-yard freestyle. He also teamed with Grant Goddard, Joey Snodderly, and Adrian Lin — also sophomores — to win the 200-yard medley relay (1:39.27), and closed out Saturday’s competition with a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay with Lin, Goddard, and Brandon Goldstein (3:12.94).
“I’ve seen kid as fast as upperclassmen. Not this many of them,” Mongelli said.
Vissering and Goldstein both set pool records.
“They just went out and had some very nice swims for right now at this time,” Mongelli said.
DeMatha’s next competition is against Bullis on Tuesday at Trinity University.
Gonzaga, Georgetown Prep, and DeMatha will each participate in next Saturday’s National Catholics at Loyola University.
The Academy of the Holy Cross and Elizabeth Seton High School girls swimming teams also met on Saturday at Georgetown Prep, with Holy Cross winning 90-89.