Chopticon and Great Mills braved the 20-degree Wednesday night air outside to come inside the aquatics center at the College of Southern Maryland’s Leonardtown campus.
The two swim teams faced off after Chopticon Principal Garth Bowling announced the five departing seniors who will graduate this spring, in celebration of Chopticon’s senior night.
Then, the swimming began, and when the evening was over, Great Mills walked away with a win on each team. The boys defeated Chopticon 160-112, and the girls took the win over the Braves 160-114.
The Great Mills boys won every relay. The Hornets started the night with a win in the boys 200-yard medley relay with Lovell Rose, Noah Wichrowski, Patrick Offenbacher and Matthew Eastburg teaming up to finish with a time of 2 minutes and 1.14 seconds.
Great Mills first-year head coach Troy Kroll was happy with the relay results.
“At this point in the season, we’re trying to prepare for SMAC and see which leg of which relay works best for which kid,” Kroll said. “At this point in the season, the kids are pretty beat up right now because they’ve been training really hard. The relays are really coming together.”
The boys competition saw no double winners. Offenbacher also won the 200 freestyle, touching the wall in 2:06.12, while Eastburg made a statement in his 200 individual medley finish (2:29.62).
Wichrowski took home first place in the 100 breaststroke, finishing in 1:11.07, with Offenbacher adding some points to the Hornets tally by taking second at 1:15.31.
Sophomore Evan Aragon captured a win for the Braves in the 100 butterfly, touching the wall in 1:13.88, just 29 one-hundredths of a second ahead of Great Mills’ Bryce Ware, while Chopticon junior Davis Kellogg won in the 100 free, finishing in 1:07.94.
Great Mills’ Connor Alsheimer paced well in the 500 free to a first-place time of 6:01.32. Kroll said watching the boys 500 free was awesome because Alsheimer dropped 30 seconds on his time.
“We need more numbers on our team, we do,” Chopticon head coach Shammy Donato said. “I know I keep saying it, but we do. When we can’t fill the lanes, we’re automatically taking points off, so that’s what it comes down to. I had a 500 swimmer [Daynaira Donato] drop 22 seconds. My breaststroker dropped six seconds, so I’m having them drop time, so it was good competition for them.”
For the girls, Caroline Brigham helped Great Mills to victory by taking the 100 breast in 1:27.41.
“I think at this point in the season heading to SMAC, I think the team is really growing stronger and coming together,” Brigham said. “A lot of times are dropping, and that’s exciting to see. We had a talk last week about making a commitment [to the team], and I think he [Kroll] is trying to instill pride in our swimming and also joy in seeing others succeed as well as ourselves.”
Chopticon had two double winners in senior Samantha Barbaris, who was swimming a little under the weather, and sophomore Kristina Cole.
Barbaris won the 200 free (2:14.30) and the 500 free (5:53.71), and swam the last leg of the winning 200 free relay. Her goal was to come in under two minutes, and she was happy that her team did just that, capturing the win in 1:58.03.
“I felt really good, although I was nervous about going into the wall because I can’t see real well right now with my eyes really swollen and everything,” Barbaris said, “but I knew as long as I kept out in front of people, I’d make my team goals.”
Barbaris said that Cole is pushing her to help her meet her goals.
“Kristina is the fastest on the team in addition to me,” Barbaris said, “and Shammy gives me extra workouts.”
Cole captured the 200 IM in 2:38.02 and competed in one of the closest races of the evening in the 100 fly, winning in 1:10.97 and dropping from her seed time of 1:11.39. Hannah Simmerman of Great Mills was neck and neck with Cole the entire race to finish second in 1:11.50.
“I feel really good about my times, I do,” Cole said, “and I dropped time in my 200 IM, which I was really happy about. I got sick after the race, but you do what you have to do. Whatever happens, happens. I felt good about my 100 fly. I really made it through because of my team. I was about to give up, but I couldn’t do that to my team so I pushed through.”
Chopticon’s graduating seniors include Kyle Russell, who’s been on the swim team for four years. Russell swam the 100 free, the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay. Barbaris is also a four-year swimmer and has been undefeated this season in the 500 free.
Ashlyn Davis is a two-year member of the Braves team and swam the 100 breast. First-year swimmer Kellen Polk is graduating and swam the 200 IM, the boys 200 free relay, the 100 back and the 400 free relay.
Donato was happy to have Bowling present for the meet.
“Having our principal here was wonderful and having him cheer us on with our assistant principal, Mr. Williams,” Donato said. “We had a lot of parents and fans come out, so it was nice.”