“It’s like déjà vu all over again.” – Yogi Berra
As I was thinking about how to approach my blog this week after winning both the Boys and Girls 2nd Annual VCAC Conference Championship Meet in fashions that exceeded my wildest expectations, I looked back at last year’s blog from this same meet for some ideas:
“As I sat in my “Local” (aka O’Brien’s Irish Pub) with Coach Mulhern and Coach Zadnik for a late-night libation – my hair still wet from the post-meet celebration – I felt a deep sense of satisfaction.
………..I was very pleased that our boys were able to swim so well and avenge their one-point loss to Trinity Christian back in early January…….”
On Saturday night Coach Mulhern and I rallied at that same place, but this time we sat in our dry change of clothes to celebrate something remarkably similar – “our [girls] were able to swim so well and avenge their [five]-point loss to Trinity Christian back in early January.” And they did it by a full 24-points.
The boys did much more than avenge last year’s regular season loss, winning on Saturday night by 102 points even though our 200 Free Relay was disqualified, which would have added another 26-points.
The victories were a team effort in classic Seton-style where our depth was the difference. In all but two (2) individual events, we were able to get all four (4) of our entries into the top-12 scoring positions. Out of 12 total boy’s events and 12 total girl’s events, the boys only took gold in five (5) of them and our girls only took gold in three (3) of them. Yes, Ariana Aldeguer (8), Clara Condon (SO), Lionel Martinez (8), JJ Brox (SR), and Mary Pennefather (SR) did what they always seem to do with their Gold medal performances at the top of the ticket. And our Boy divers just crushed it with Connor Koehr (SO), Mick Fioramonti (JR), JJ Brox (SR), and Max Gonzalez (SO) scoring 52 points by finishing 1st through 4th in Diving. But it was the down-ballot swimmers who made the biggest difference, particularly on the girl’s side.
We had so many swimmers out-swim their seeds (i.e., finish in a higher place and score more points than they were expected to, based on their seed). Occasionally, the difference was extreme, like Maria Miller (FR) jumping from the 7th seed to the Silver medal in Diving or Lucia Bingham (SO) jumping from the 12th seed to 7th in 100 Fly, but most of our extra points came from PR swims with less dramatic results that collectively became dramatic.
Sometimes the difference was moving up from 3rd to 2nd like Anastasia Garvey (FR), or from 4th to 2nd like Michael Brox (SO), or from 5th or 4th and 6th to 5th like Joseph Borneman (SO), Max Wilson (SO), Elodie Brox (SO), Luke Mantooth (JR), and Haley Fifield (SO).
But in a meet where 12 places were scored, every swimmer mattered – swimmers like Kateri Mantooth (SR) who scored 2 extra points in 50 Free with her 7th place finish on an 8th place seed, or Jacqueline Oswald (SR) who scored 4 more points than projected in her 200 Free when she jumped from the 9th seed to 7th.
Lucy Cunningham (SO) added 2 more points when she jumped from the 8th seed to 7th place in 500 Free, Joey Dealey (SR) added an extra point when he finished in 8th place on a 9th place seed, Amelie Halisky (SR) added extra points with her 9th place finish on a 10th seed, and Shannon O’Malley (SO) added 2 more points when she jumped from the 12th seed to 10th in 100 Free.
When I started down the writing path I just followed for the last few paragraphs, I didn’t expect them to become so cumbersome, but in a way, the massive number of examples makes my point – it was truly a team win! And several of the swimmers listed outscored their seed twice. On the girl’s side, I’m quite confident there is more than 24-points buried in the above four (4) paragraphs.
I often tell you about the importance of Personal Records in winning meets, and seldom is it as true as it was on Saturday:
“If we swim PRs, the winning takes care of itself”
This has been our story all season long. On Saturday, our 38 swimmers and 8 divers got another 52 Personal Records. Added to our previous season tally of 1,048, our team has swum a total of exactly 1,100 Personal Records so far this season.
I think that says it all.
Congratulations to both the Seton Boys and Girls who ended the night as Champions of the 2023 VCAC Conference Championship Meet.
Congratulations to this year’s Swimmers of the Meet:
- Allie Witdoeckt (JR), Trinity Christian School
- Four (4) Gold medals in 100 Fly, 100 Back, 200 Free Relay, and 400 Free Relay
- Five (5) new Meet Records
- Girls 100 Fly, 55.80
- Girls 100 Back, 56.39
- Girls 100 Free, 51.73 (leading off the 400 Free Relay)
- As part of the 200 and 400 Free Relays
- Justin Kim (JR), Trinity Christian School
- Four (4) Gold medals in 50 Free, 100 Free, 200 Free Relay, and 400 Free Relay.
- Another boy who could have easily been the Swimmer of the Meet was Tyler Phillips (FR) of Trinity Christian School
- Tyler won two (2) individual gold medals in 200 Free and 100 Fly, including a new Conference Record in 100 Fly.
- Tyler also anchored the Trinity’s Gold medal 200 and 400 Free Relay.
The meet featured a very high level of competition, and as a result, we saw nine (9) VCAC records broken:
- Girls 200 IM, 2:10.47, Elizabeth Bryan (FR), Oakcrest School
- Boys 100 Fly, 52.74, Tyler Phillips (FR), Trinity Christian School
- Girls 100 Fly, 55.80, Allie Witdoeckt (JR), Trinity Christian School
- Girls 100 Free, 51.73, Allie Witdoeckt (JR), Trinity Christian School
- Girls 200 Free Relay, 1:42.65, Trinity Christian, A. Wiggins, R. Buff, K. Womack, A, Witdoeckt
- Girls 100 Back, 56.39, Allie Witdoeckt (JR), Trinity Christian School
- Girls 100 Breaststroke, 1:06.36, Elizabeth Bryan (FR), Oakcrest School
- Boys 400 Free Relay, 3:27.64, Trinity Christian, J. Kim, C. Bang, N. Yun, T. Phillips
- Girls 400 Free Relay, 3:46.07, Trinity Christian, A. Witdoeckt, R. Buff, A. Wiggins, A. Schlieter
Here are how the final scores turned out:
Seton School 440
Trinity Christian School 338
Fredericksburg Christian 151
John Paul the Great 100
Seton School 364
Trinity Christian School 340
Oakcrest School 200.5
John Paul the Great 172.5
Fredericksburg Christian 123
Going into the meet, I knew we had slight edge for the Girls and a huge edge for the Boys because of Diving, and, as I mentioned previously, those advantages only increased with some outstanding performances from Coach Ashley Keapproth’s young Dive Team.
The Friday night Diving competition resulted in a 42-point lead for the boys and a 16-point lead for the girls over Trinity Christian going into the swimming portion of the competition.
Scoring the Psych Sheet, I expected us to win the Swimming events for the Boys handily (although not by as much as it ultimately turned out), and I expected us to lose the swimming events for Girls by 8-points. So, for the Girls, with the buffer provided by Diving, I thought we could barely win by a measly 5-points. 5-points is the equivalent of one 8th place finish.
Fortunately, our Girl’s started strong with a dominating victory in the 200 Medley Relay (featuring Anastasia Garvey (FR) swimming Butterfly), and they extended the lead in a relatively short time to the point where even Allie Witdoeckt from Trinity Christian couldn’t make up the deficit.
The bellwether events for me on the Girl’s side were the 50 and 100 Free.
In the Girl’s 50 Free, Gianna Davis from St. John Paul the Great was seeded 1st by a wide margin, but 2nd through 6th place were all seeded between 26.01 and 26.87. Mary Pennefather (SR) seeded 2nd and Elodie Brox (SO) seeded 5th at 26.81. In between Mary and Elodie were two (2) girls from Trinity Christian plus another in the 6th seed. The Psych Sheet score for the event showed Trinity winning the event overall by a score of 30 to 28, but if the Trinity Girls somehow took 2nd and 3rd, it would have been devastating.
In the race, Mary held her seed and Elodie jumped up the 4th with a PR 26.63. Add Kateri Mantooth (SR) to the scoring where she moved up from the 8th seed to 7th with a .95 second PR, and Seton went from a projected 2-point loss in the event to an overall tie, 31 to 31.
In my other bellwether event, the Girl’s 100 Free, the results were more dramatic. Trinity Christian’s girls were seeded, 1st, 3rd, and 5th with a projected point total of a whopping 38 points. Mary Pennefather (SR) was again in the mix, seeded 2nd, Maggie Gibbons (SO) was seeded 4th. Farther down-ballot were Kateri Mantooth (SR) and Shannon O’Malley (SO) who were seeded 9th and 12th, respectively. Those places would have scored a total of 33 points for Seton.
But that is not at all how it turned out. Mary Pennefather (SR) took her first 50 out in on 26.97 (to her feet!) and won the Gold medal going away. Her 57.92 was 1.15 seconds then her fastest swim so far this season and resulted in a 6-point swing (1st place is 16 points and 2nd place scores 13 points). Maggie held her seed with a .29 second PR, but we had already seen some heroics from Kateri and Shannon in the prior heat. Kateri swam a 1.78 second PR to jump up to 7th, and Shannon swam a 3.43 second PR to jump up to 10th.
So, in 100 Free, instead of losing the event 33-38, we won the event 37-35 – a 7-point swing!
I was breathing much easier at that point, as you could probably hear in the tone of my voice on the livestream.
This final victory capped another prolific season for Seton Swimming:
- 1,100 Personal Records
- Hosted ten (10) meets, which I’m reasonably sure is more than any other school in the State of Virginia, public or private.
- VCAC Regular Season Champions – Boys (25th in 29 years).
- VISAA Division II Invitational Meet Champions – Boys and Girls
- VCAC Conference Meet Champions – Boys and Girls
All that is left is the VISAA State Swimming and Diving Championship at Liberty University next weekend.
For our Girls, it will be a chance to try to win their 6th VISAA Division II State Championships, and our 10th overall. Based on our results at the VISAA Division II Invitational and the VISAA times posted on SwimCloud, I think we have a reasonable chance. Watch out for Cape Henry Collegiate and Peninsula Catholic through – neither of them attended the Division II Invitational.
And, believe it or not, I think our Boys may also have an outside chance at their 5th VISAA Division II State Championship. If we win, it will be on the strength of Coach Ashley Keapproth’s Divers who are trying to get two (2) Divers in the top-8 and four (4) in the top-16. Combined with some over-achieving by our Boy’s relays, and I think it could happen!
One of the unique features of the VCAC Conference Championship Meet is the path it provides to recognition as “All-Conference”. Anyone who finishes in the top-3 in an individual event is designated “All-Conference”.
We had fourteen (14) swimmers who earned All-Conference honors a total of 24 times. Let’s start with the Individual VCAC Champions:
- Lionel Martinez (8) is not just a 2X All-Conference swimmer, he is also a 2X VCAC individual champion. Lionel won both the 200 IM and the 500 Free by very wide margins. Lionel also anchored the Gold medal Medley Relay and led-off our Silver medal 400 Free relay with a .10 second PR 51.22.
- Ariana Aldeguer (8) is a 2X All-Conference swimmer. She was the VCAC Champion in 200 Free and the VCAC Silver medalist in 100 Back behind the eventual Swimmer of the Meet. Here 200 Free time of 1:57.99 was a .08 second PR and is now within 2.25 seconds of the team record. Her 100 Back time was a .83 second PR and broke the 1:00 barrier for the first time. Ariana also had a .67 second PR in 50 Back leading off our Gold medal medley relay and her 55:00 lead-off split for the 400 Free Relay was a .85 second PR.
- Mary Pennefather (SR) earned All-Conference honors twice in 50 and 100 Free. As you read about previously, both swims were season-best times at a very auspicious time for our competitive chances.
- JJ Brox (SR) is a 2X All-Conference performer in 100 Breaststroke where he won the Gold medal, and in Diving where he took Bronze. He also had some massive PRs in the relays including a 1.45 second flat-start PR leading off the 200 Free Relay and a .17 second PR split in 50 Breaststroke during the Medley Relay.
- Connor Koehr (SO) is a 2X All-Conference performer. He won the Conference Championship in Diving and took the Bronze medal in 100 Backstroke. He also swam a .56 second PR in an exhibition swim of 50 Free where he broke :25 for the first time.
Here were the other nine (9) All-Conference Designees for Seton:
- Clara Condon (SO) is a 2X All-Conference swimmer after winning two (2) Silver medals in 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke. She also won Gold in the 200 Medley Relay and Silver in the 200 Free Relay.
- Joe Wilson (SR) was a 2X All-Conference swimmer, taking the Silver medal in 100 Free and the Bronze medal in 50 Free. His 50 Free was a .22 second PR.
- Michael Brox (SO) is a 2X All-Conference swimmer by virtue of his Silver medal in 100 Fly and his Bronze medal in 500 Free. His 100 Fly PR was crazy – he dropped 6.42 seconds and jumped up from the 4th Michael also led-off a 200 Free Relay with a smoking fast 24.22, a .66 second PR.
- Drew Nguyen (SO) is a 2X All-Conference swimmer after he took Bronze medals in both 200 Free and 100 Breaststroke. Both swims were big PRs, by 2.41 second and .51 seconds, respectively.
- Mick Fioramonti (JR) earned All-Conference honors with his Silver medal in Diving. Mick also took 5th in 100 Back and swam a .75 second PR in an exhibition 50 Free.
- Anastasia Garvey (FR) was All-Conference in 500 Free where she dropped 4.43 seconds to take the Silver medal. She also took 6th in 100 Fly and handled the Butterfly duties in our Gold medal Medley Relay with a .76 second PR split.
- Maria Miller (FR) earned her first All-Conference honors with a 20.65-point PR in Diving that was good enough to jump her from the 7th seed to the Silver medal!
- David Hudson (JR) earned All-Conference honors in 100 Fly where he won the Bronze medal. David also took 4th in 200 IM.
- Max Wilson (SO) was All-Conference in 200 IM where he won the Bronze medal after a 3.86 second PR. He entered the meet seeded 4th. Max also scored in 6th place in 100 Back after a .09 second PR. In the relays, he swam a .73 second PR 58.28 in 100 Free leading off a 400 Free Relay.
The All-Important Relays for States
As we approached the State Championship, I knew that the performances we saw on Saturday could have a big impact on our State Relays – and I was right. Every year, there always seem to be kids that step up at the right time, and this year was no exception.
Here were three swimmers that earned their way onto a new State Relay:
- Kateri Mantooth (SR) jumped onto the 400 Free “B” Relay after splitting 2.27 seconds faster in 100 Free than ever before. She also dropped .55 seconds from her 50 Free split to cement her place on the 200 “B” Free Relay. From a flat start, she swam a 1.78 second PR in 100 Free and a .95 second PR in 50 Free.
- Michael Brox (SO) jumped up to the 400 “A” Free Relay with a massive drop in his 100 Free split – 1.19 seconds!
- Connor Koehr (SO) will join Michael as a 2nd new member of the 400 “A” Free Relay after he beat his previous best split by .97 seconds. Connor’s 54.09 was the first time he has ever split below :55.
Other Personal Records and Great Swims
As I have already highlighted so thoroughly, the margin of victory our Seton was due in large part to our 52 Personal Records on Saturday night. Incredibly, that brings our season total to 1,100 Personal Records!
Here are the rest of the great swims from this past weekend:
- Greg Bauer (FR) took 8th place in 100 Breaststroke after a huge 3.40 second PR.
- Lucia Bingham (SO) had a three (3) massive PRs. In 200 IM she dropped 10.73 seconds, in 100 Free leading off a relay she dropped 8.44 seconds, and in 100 Fly she dropped 4.78 seconds. That was quite a way to end the season Lucia!
- Joseph Borneman (SO) had PRs swims in both 50 and 100 Free, by .34 and .01 seconds, respectively.
- Elodie Brox (SO) dropped another .18 seconds in 50 Free.
- Lucy Cunningham (SO) dropped a huge 16.94 seconds in the 500 Free! I was so proud of her. She also dropped 2.38 seconds in 200 Free.
- Joey Dealey (SR) scored twice for us in 200 Free and 100 Back, placing 6th and 8th, respectively.
- Haley Fifield (SO) continues to get faster in 100 Back. On Saturday, she dropped another 1.69 seconds to score in 5th She also dropped .20 in 50 Back leading off a relay.
- Josh Fioramonti (FR) had a good swim in the difficult 200 Freestyle where he scored in 8th
- Maggie Gibbons (JR) smoked her 200 Free, 100 Free, and 50 Free. In the 200 and 100 Free, she dropped 2.29 seconds and .29 seconds. In the 50 Free, where she was leading off our “A” Relay, she dropped .11 seconds.
- Max Gonzalez (SO) showed what a first-year diver can do for the team with a 4th place finish that earned Seton 11-points.
- Moira Haggerty (SR) ended her Seton career on a high note with a big .92 second PR in 50 Free.
- Amelie Halisky (SR) was awesome in the last meet of her career. In 200 IM she dropped 8.63 seconds, and in 100 Back she dropped 2.57 seconds. Those swims scored in 9th and 8th place, respectively.
- Liam Halisky (SO) broke :58 for the first time with a 1.18 second PR.
- Mary Catherine Hurley (SO) took full advantage of her opportunity to compete the Varsity by swimming a .24 second PR.
- Dominic Judge (8) was awesome in the 500 Free, just missing All-Conference honors in 4th place after a .35 second PR.
- Philomena Kay (8) had two huge drops. In the 500 Free she cut 4.01 seconds, and in the 100 Fly she cut 2.84 seconds. Her swims scored in 6th and 8th place, respectively.
- Gus Kohlhaas (SO) had the 6th highest score in diving behind four (4) of his Seton teammates.
- Peter Konstanty (JR) got his 100 Free down to 59.01 after a .78 second drop.
- Kateri Mantooth (SR) dropped 1.78 seconds in 100 Free and .95 seconds in 50 Free.
- Luke Mantooth (JR) showed dramatic improvement this season, and that trend continued Saturday. In 100 Fly he dropped another 1.87 seconds, and in 100 Breaststroke he dropped another 1.41 seconds.
- Shannon O’Malley (SO) was a difference maker, as you read about earlier. In 100 Back she cut 4.43 seconds, and in 100 Free she cut 3.43 seconds.
- Jacob Oswald (SO) showed he was ready for the State Diving competition after his 7th place finish.
- Jacqueline Oswald (SR) took 7th and 8th place in 200 Free and 500 Free with 2.75 second and 1.70 second drops, respectively.
- Daniel Sokban (8) swam really well, particularly in the 200 Free where he cut .49 seconds and scored in 4th
- William Sokban (SO) scored in 5th and 6th place in the 500 Free and 100 Fly, respectively.
- Rose Waldron (SO) came within .06 seconds of the State cut in 100 Breaststroke after a huge 1.46 second PR. She also took 4th place in Diving.
- Madelyn Zadnik (JR) scored in 12th place in 100 Breaststroke with a strong final swim for this season.
We’ve reached the final part of the season that so many of look forward to each year – the VISAA State Championship Meet. The Psych Sheet is posted under Meet Information.
Looking at the Psych Sheet, I think we may have a pretty good chance to take another Division II State Championship for the Girls, but Cape Henry Collegiate School is going to be very hard to beat.
The Boys also have an outside chance, but their competition is more familiar – Trinity Christian School. If we win, it will be primarily on the strength of Diving and our Relays.
Let’s swim loose, have some fun, race with some abandon, and see what happens.
I’ll see the State Team at breakfast at IHOP on Thursday morning to start the big weekend. I hope you have already placed your order on-line!
And finally, save the date for Sunday, March 6th for the Swimming and Diving Awards starting at 2:00 p.m. at Renaissance Montessori School. I’ll put out some more information on this shortly.
For now, rest during the day, sleep well at night, and very importantly, eat and drink well. It’s time to race!
Coach Jim Koehr