Last Saturday, we hosted our 7th annual VISAA Division II Invitational. The meet was originally conceived as an opportunity for all of the smaller schools in the State to get together for a championship-style meet before we join all of the big schools at the State Championship meet two weeks later. In those seven (7) years, the meet has grown to 17 teams and a real preview of some future State Champions. The music, the medals, and the friendly teams all combine to make it a great experience every year.
And once again, I was pleased to watch our girl’s team captains claim the championship trophy on behalf of Seton! The boys ended up in the runner-up position after our last relay got DQ’d for an early take-off. (Actually our girls 400 Free relay was also DQ’d for an early take-off, but their lead was big enough to take home the trophy anyway). But you know what? It’s OK with me. I’d much rather see a mistake made while aggressively taking the risk to win than a timid swimmer playing it safe on the blocks.
I still remember the first time I heard that well-worn expression “no guts, no glory”. I was 8 years old playing baseball for the Greenville Knolls Bengals in St. Mary’s County, MD when I had an opportunity to steal home. It had never occurred to me that someone of my very limited ability could ever even contemplate stealing home base in a baseball game – I was just trying not to make yet another mistake. Heck, I was on base! That didn’t happen very often!
My coach was this big old country boy named Jack Law (he may have been a just a little guy, but as a small child, I remember him as huge). He just looked at me with disgust and gave me my first unambiguous life lesson about how playing it safe is sometimes your riskiest bet. My wife, and certainly my father, might say that I learned the lesson a bit too well for my own good 😉
Here’s how the meet scores looked when it was all over:
St. Michael the Archangel 118
Fredericksburg Academy 111
Pope John Paul the Great 106
Fredericksburg Christian 84
Richmond Christian 68
Randolph-Macon Academy 48
Wakefield Country Day 46
Veritas Christian 19
Middleburg Academy 3
Pope John Paul the Great 191
The Steward School 148
St. Michael the Archangel 126
Randolph-Macon Academy 115
Fredericksburg Christian 77
Wakefield Country Day 43
Fredericksburg Academy 31
Roanoke Catholic 25
Middleburg Academy 11
Richmond Christian 1
Medal Winners for Seton
Like most championship meets, we gave gold, silver and bronze medals, and Seton Swimmers definitely took home their fair share:
- Emily Heim is back! It looks like all of that hard work with Coach Lowell is paying dividends because Emily won our team’s only individual gold medal, with a win in 100 Breaststroke and a new PR time of 1:15.40! Emily also took 4th place in 200 IM with an amazing 9.10 second PR.
- Kimberly Rector had a big day winning individual silver and bronze medals. Kimberly took silver behind a State finalist in the 200 Free with a .76 second PR. Kimberly’s bronze came in her signature event, the 500 Free, where she also established a new PR time of 5:53.60.
- Alex Sinner raced through some more hip pain to take the silver medal in 200 IM. Then in 100 Back, Alex found herself in the fastest heat of the meet – a heat that contained the probable state champion and at least one other future state finalist – to take 5th
- Luke Marrazzo continues to shine as our team’s top sprinter. Luke took bronze in the 50 Free with a new personal best 23.97, the first member of this year’s team to break :24 seconds, and then he took 4th in 100 Free with another PR swim, dropping .13 seconds to go 53.25. Last night, when I was looking at the individual results, I noticed his 100 Free time was listed at 52.13. I was wondering if that was somehow a mistake, but upon investigation, it looks like Luke brought his “A” game leading off the 400 Free relay! Excluding our former All-America’s, that time puts Luke in the same league as our former great Seton freestylers like David Basinger, Connor Cook or Sean and Daniel Koehr. What a season Luke is having!
- Joe Kosten fought through shoulder pain and sickness to take the bronze medal in 100 Breaststroke. Joe’s always risen to the occasion during the post season, and I expect that this year will be no different. He could also make some waves in the 200 IM where he took 5th place on Saturday.
Joe Zapiain was on Fire!
Joe had the meet of his life on Saturday. After a week of non-stop grief from his head coach about his freestyle stroke technique, together with an inner desire to qualify for the State championship meet, Joe rose to the occasion with two of the most outstanding swims of the entire meet. In the 50 Free, Joe dropped 1.15 seconds to go 25.42. With that huge drop, Joe is now the 3rd fastest sprinter on our team meaning he is now on our “A” 200 Free Relay for States! Then, in the 500 Free, he cut 24.19 seconds – how do you do that Joe?!? Tremendous work Joe – I’m very proud of you!
Championship Meets are won with relays
In a high school championship meet, relays typically score double the points of an individual events. The traditional depth that we’ve always had at Seton has long been the foundation of many great relays – relays that have been most responsible for our eight (8) state championships and 18 straight conference titles. It is clear that future Seton victories are going to be primarily the result of big relay points also.
- Our Girls 200 Medley Relay took the gold medal, even without Claire Kenna. Alex Sinner, Emily Heim, Keziah Higginbottom and Meghan O’Malley were strong enough to be a very fast John Paul the Great relay anchored by girls with names very familiar to Seton Swimming – Donohoe and Planchak. I must admit that I enjoy seeing Claire Donohoe and Michelle Planchak swim well, but I’ll also admit that I was happy they couldn’t quite catch us 😉 I was particularly pleased with Meghan O’Malley’s anchor leg where she swam 50 Free nearly a second faster than her standing start personal record.
- Our Boys 200 Medley Relay of Brian Koehr, Joe Kosten, Tommy Flook and Luke Marrazzo took the silver medal after being outtouched by only .03 seconds by a team of USA swimmers from The Steward School. They swam a season best time of 1:51.60 and Luke’s anchor leg was a personal best relay split of 23.34!
- Our Girls 200 Free Relay of Jillian Ceol, Kimberly Rector, Emily Heim and Keziah Higginbottom took the bronze medal in a close heat. Jillian had a very strong lead off split and Kimberly, Emily and Keziah all swam significantly faster than their standing start personal records.
Here are the rest of the 31 personal records that I have not already mentioned:
- Vivian Zadnik is really making the most of her first season with the Varsity team. Her 100 Breast has dropped from 1:32 to 1:20.89 the season, including another 2.41 second drop on Saturday. In the 100 Fly, Vivian dropped .89 seconds for her 2nd PR of the day.
- Jude Van de Voorde was really concentrating on making his stroke long, and I suspect that had a lot to do with his 4.09 second PR in the 200 Free.
- Stephen Shaw (spelled correctly 😉 had what may have been his best swim of the season when he cut .95 seconds in 200 IM to go 2:28.45. I was also very pleased with his 100 Fly where he took it out very fast – like you are supposed to for a 100 yard race. It was a good day for Stephen.
- Cris Salas brought some real joy to the meet after each of his three (3) PRs. In 200 IM, he cut 3.26 seconds, in 100 Free, he cut 2.00 seconds and in 50 Free leading off a relay, he cut .30 seconds. For that 100 Free PR, Cris went 59.90 – the first time he has broken 1:00!
- Andrew Quinan continued to leverage great stroke technique with another .72 second PR in 50 Free. He is just .17 seconds away from breaking :30.
- Paul Pechie was looking very strong in 100 Free when he lowered his PR by a dramatic 2.21 seconds.
- Cat Pechie made the most of her last minute opportunity to swim with the Varsity with her .18 second PR in 50 Free.
- Mark O’Donohue has had a great season this year, and he continued that great work on Saturday with his 1.93 second PR in 200 Free.
- Geni Lucas also swam well in the 200 Free, beating her previous best by 1.15 seconds.
- David Lambrecht has been a great success story for Seton Swimming with the great times he’s been posting this year. On Saturday, David went 2:11.04 and lowered his PR by another 1.92 seconds.
- Patrick Koehr has been battling shoulder pain, but that didn’t stop him from a really fine lead-off 50 back on one of our medley relays. He swam it 3.70 seconds faster than ever before.
- Joe Irving has showed me this season that he is capable of becoming a very fine swimmer. He already brings a lot of natural athletic ability to the party, and now his improved stroke technique is starting to pay dividends. On Saturday, he cut 2.31 seconds from his 100 Fly and 1.11 seconds from his 100 Breast. Where he can really shine I think is going to be in the sprints, and he showed that again with a really fine split in the 200 Free Relay.
- Keziah Higginbottom is getting very close to her State cut in 100 Fly. With her .48 second PR on Saturday (for 4th place), she is now within .18 seconds of the cut. Keziah also dropped 1.95 seconds in 100 Back. What a great senior season Keziah has going!
- Dani Flook has successful jumped into the practice lane with Coach Lowell and our strong group of freshman girls, and the extra work helped her cut 17.49 seconds from her 500 Free PR.
- Elizabeth Earls had a very fine 100 Breast, swimming it 3.34 seconds faster than ever before.
- Mary Camarca showed that she’s more than a distance swimmer when she lowered her 100 Breast PR by 2.78 seconds! She also cut 1.64 seconds in 100 Free leading off a 400 Free relay. Those are big drops!
Next Weekend’s DAC Championship Meet
Next weekend is our annual conference championship meet. While the actual team declared conference champion is determined by the regular season (we were undefeated again and conference champion for the 19th straight year), this meet is still a big meet for us. Anyone who finishes in the top 3 will be designated All-Conference. I hope to work on the entries later this afternoon, and my goal will be three-fold: 1) win, get the maximum number of Seton Swimmers designated All-Conference, and 3) finalize our state team.
Our warm-up is at 1:10 p.m. so we all need to be on deck stretching by 12:39 p.m.
The State Championship Meet is Friday and Saturday, February 15-16th
I have an early draft of our State Meet entries now posted. I hope to bring 20 swimmers to Richmond this year. This list is not final – some people may earn their way onto the team over others this weekend, but for planning purposes, here’s my current draft of the team:
Alex Sinner Joe Kosten
Kimberly Rector Luke Marrazzo
Claire Kenna David Lambrecht
Emily Heim Stephen Shaw
Keziah Higginbottom Peter Quinan
Jillian Ceol Patrick Koehr
Mikey Wittlinger Brian Koehr
Bernadette Wunderly Joe Zapiain
Sally Marrazzo Tommy Flook
Geni Lucas Joe Duran
Five (5) more good practices left – let’s make the most of them!
Coach Jim Koehr