Before embarking on a college swimming career at Rochester Institute of Technology this fall, Leonardtown High School senior Zach Claus helped the Raiders claim the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championship after claiming the top spot in all of his individual events as well as anchoring two winning relay teams.
“Zach Claus broke his own record at SMAC in the individual medley, which was great,” Leonardtown head coach Alex Marley said. “He had some great swims all year long for us and we will miss him next year in the pool.”
Leonardtown’s boys (12-1 overall during the regular season) were able to prevail with the team title at the SMAC championships at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Feb. 8 with 412.5 points, which edged out North Point in second-place with 365. Great Mills finished third with 346 and Chopticon was 11th (102).
“We had great swims across the board and we really worked hard to get up to win SMAC,” Marley said. “I know our boys were disappointed with their regular season, so I think winning SMAC was something they wanted to prove they could accomplish.”
At SMAC, Claus broke his own record in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1 minute 57.73 seconds and claimed first in the 100 butterfly (53.95 seconds). With Claus as the anchor, the Raiders won the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.47) and 400 free relay (3:25.28).
Claus won the 100 freestyle (49.19) and placed second in the 200 IM (1:58.57) at the Class 4A-3A North Region championships. The senior capped his swimming career with the Raiders at the 4A-3A state championships by placing seventh in the 200 IM (1:57.89).
“I thought we did really well this season,” Claus said. “This team was almost like being part of a family, and I’m going to miss the camaraderie.”
Leonardtown’s girls finished a perfect 13-0 during the regular season and finished second to Huntingtown at the SMAC championships, scoring 382 points. Great Mills was fourth (354) and Chopticon was ninth (159).
Junior Nelle Ray placed second in the 100 fly (1:01.40) and 200 free (2:02.52) at SMAC and was part of the second-place 200 free relay team with sophomore Amaya Duke, freshman Gabrielle Bonds and junior Sam Hotz (1:44.63). Sophomore Lauren McCloskey took third at SMAC in the 100 backstroke (1:03.02) and 200 IM (2:20.53).
Bonds was also second at SMAC in the 500 free (5:34.57) and was part of the 400 free relay team with freshman Caroline Allred, senior Laura Scott and Duke that was second at SMAC (3:55.32) and fourth at the 4A-3A North Region championships (3:57.67), advancing the group to states.
“We had so much fun swimming at states and this was a great freshman year being a part of this team,” Bonds said.
Great Mills had some strong swims in the postseason. At SMAC, senior Bradley Beall finished third in the 500 free (5:17.25) as did sophomore Sean Eby in the 100 back (59.43), while junior Benjamin White was fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.74). Beall, Eby, White and sophomore Nolen Willey combined to take fourth at SMAC (1:45.97) and fourth at the 4A-3A North Region championships (1:45.98).
On the girls side for the Hornets, sophomore Sophie Chan placed third at SMAC (57.05) and eighth at regionals (56.52) in the 100 free, while junior Lydia Morris was sixth at SMAC (1:16.60) and eighth at regionals in the 100 breast (1:15.30).
Chopticon junior Rosemary Wild had two top-10 finishes at SMAC, taking sixth in the 500 free (5:59.91) and 10th in the 100 breast (1:19.91) and was part of two relays that finished in the top 10. Wild, senior Marissa Fields and juniors Sydney Gatton and Bethany Moore placed eighth in the 200 medley relay (2:14.97). The same quartet took seventh in the 200 free relay (1:58.91).
At St. Mary’s Ryken, freshman Samantha Pennell was named the most valuable player of the season on a Knights squad that also featured sophomore Zachary Longmore and freshman Zachary Maldonado on the boys side and senior Danielle Bouchard on the girls side.