Seton created the VISAA Division II Invitational Championship 16 years ago with two purposes in mind:
- Make sure that the top Division II schools knew each other prior to the VISAA State Championship so that we could greatly enhance the experience for our kids on the big stage States, and
- Give our kids a State-Meet-like experience prior to the VISAA State Championship, particularly those kids who did not qualify for States.
On Saturday, February 5, 2022, I think we can fairly say that we were wildly successful on both counts. It’s always fun for me personally to meet and interact with the top swimmers in the VISAA, particularly swimmers like Erin Langenburg from Steward, Delaney Gibbons from Williamsburg Christian, and Madisyn Carter from Highland.
I think we just got a great preview of the upcoming VISAA State Championship for Division II, and as a result, I’m feeling like our Girls may have a pretty good chance to win their 6th State Championship and the 10th State Championship overall. Of course, Steward School and Trinity Christian School (who had an amazing meet), are going to have something to say about that.
We also got a great preview of the upcoming VCAC Conference Championship Meet. Our Girl’s Medley Relays (plural!) were dominant, with our “A” Relay breaking both the Meet and the VCAC Conference records and winning the event by more than 4 seconds, and our “B” Relay also beating the Trinity Christian “A” Relay to take 3rd overall. That was 56 points for Seton in the very first event, so 10 minutes into the meet, the die was already cast.
But there were a couple very close loses on the Girl’s side for which I am very excited for the rematch at Conference Champs. In the 200 Free Relay, Trinity Christian left us with the Bronze medal by only .11 seconds, and in the 500 Free, Angie Testani had an amazing 14 second drop only to be out-touched by Trinity Christian’s Teagan Stermer by a mere .10 seconds. I am anxious to see both of those results reversed next weekend.
National Catholics excepted; this was easily the fastest meet of the season so far, particularly on the Boys side. Joshua Fisher from Veritas, Jackson Kiland from Christchurch, and Bryce Rouzie from Hampton Roads showed us all what top-level VISAA swimming looks like. Man! It sure was fun to watch.
Congratulations to our 2022 VISAA Division II Invitational Champions. The following schools took home the Traveling Championship Meet Trophies:
- Boys – The Covenant School
- Girls – Seton School
And congratulations to this year’s Swimmers of the Meet. There were so many great swimmers, but in the end, these two really stood out. I personally will be cheering loudly for both at States:
- Boys – Joshua Fisher, Veritas
- Girls – Erin Langenburg, Steward School
As another indication of how fast this Meet has become, we saw eight (8) of the 24 Meet Records broken:
- Girls 200 Medley Relay
- Seton School, Lucy Garvey, Angie Testani, Clara Condon, Mary Pennefather, 1:53.18
- Boys 100 Fly
- Joshua Fisher, Veritas, 50.43
- Girls 100 Fly
- Erin Langenburg, Steward School, 56.04
- Boys 100 Free
- Jackson Kiland, Christchurch, 48.12
- Boys 500 Free
- Bryce Rouzie, Hampton Roads Academy, 4:49.35
- Boys 100 Back
- Joshua Fisher, Veritas, 49.93
- Boys 1-meter Diving, 11 Dives
- Harper Thornett, Trinity Christian School, 525.80 points
- Girls 1-meter Diving, 11 Dives
- Keri Hough, Trinity Christian School, 256.90 points.
We also had two (2) new VCAC Conference Meet Records. Traditionally, our Conference has counted swims in both Division II Invitational and the VCAC Conference Championship for our Conference Records:
- Girls 200 Medley Relay, Seton School, Lucy Garvey, Angie Testani, Clara Condon, Mary Pennefather, 1:53.18
- Boys 400 Free Relay, Trinity Christian School, Noah Yun, Tyler Phillips, Justin Kim, Josh Kim, 3:28.44
As if watching fast swimming wasn’t enough fun for me, walking down memory lane with former Collegiate Coach and current SwimmingWorld Magazine writer Mike Stott while commentating on the live stream broadcast made the meet even better. I’ve coached with and against Coach Stott since he first started in the VISAA in 2002. We also served for many years together on the VISAA Swimming Executive Committee, so we had an awful lot to talk about.
Remember that 2010 Girls State 200 Free Relay that won the Gold medal by .03 seconds? I bet I’ve watched it 50 times on our Seton Swimming Videos page. I always enjoy reminding Coach Stott of how Lauren “the Machine” Donohoe just barely held off the anchor charge of Collegiate School phenom Rachel Naurath who split an unbelievable 22.85. Or that day at St. Catherine’s where Nevin Cook took down the great Collegiate 500 Freestyler Brooks Ross on the last turn? Coach Stott always takes it with good humor though because we both know that Collegiate beat Seton like a drum in most other head-to-head competitions.
Add to the mix Coach Ross Palazzo and his experiences swimming at the University of Florida with some of the top swimmers in the world, and we had a formula for a live stream commentary that kept me up until almost midnight re-watching it.
I hope you all enjoyed watching it half as much as I enjoyed participating in it. A recording of the Meet live stream is under the About/Videos menu or by clicking here.
We had 307 athletes and eighteen (18) schools competing. Here are how the final scores looked for the top scoring teams:
Seton Swimming 302.5
Trinity Christian School 250
Steward School 160
Hampton Roads Academy 155
The Covenant School 136.5
Nansemond Suffolk Academy 134
The Covenant School 261
Trinity Christian School 219
Christchurch School 145
Veritas School 131
Seton Swimming 122
Immanuel Christian School 98
Steward School 86
You might think that these scores are indicative of how VISAA States will turn out, but that is not necessarily true. Remember at States, we score 16 places – and with all of the Division I schools mixed in, it is MUCH harder to get into the top 16 there than it was to get into the top 12 on Saturday. That means that the scoring relies heavily on the top swimmers – like Erin Langenburg from Steward School – who will score a lot of points individually.
Of course, we have swimmers capable of scoring individually too, but if we win, I know from experience that it will be from the scoring from our relays. Our girl’s Medley Relay must get into the top-8 and our girl’s Freestyle Relays need to get into the top-16 if we are to have a chance.
And like last year, our Divers can make the difference.
Our Girls Were Super!
I was so excited watching how well our girls, many of them still young, performed on a big stage Saturday. Individually, against some of the fastest competition in the State, we saw three (3) girls win individual medals and one (1) come very close:
- Angie Testani (FR) took the Gold medal in 100 Breaststroke by 1.43 seconds, and as I previously mentioned, she took the Bronze medal in the 500 Free by only .1 seconds after a 13.96 second PR. She also dropped .06 seconds in 50 Free leading off a Medley Relay. Angie was our highest individual point scorer.
- Clara Condon (FR) was right behind her in the scoring with the Gold medal in 200 IM and a 4th place in 100 Fly in what was arguably the fastest girl’s event of the meet. Clara’s 200 IM was stellar. She dropped 4.01 seconds and broke 2:20 for the first time.
- Mary Pennefather (JR) won the Bronze medal in her signature 50 Free, and she took 9th place in a very fast 100 Freestyle heat. Mary’s 50 Free also hit the State cut!
- Lucy Garvey (SR) just missed the Bronze medal in 100 Backstroke by only .06 seconds. I was very pleased to see her go so far underwater on her start. Now to get that 3rd wall! Lucy also scored in 6th place in 200 Free with a strong swim
In a meet like this, the relays can make all the difference, and that was certainly the case on Saturday with 122 of our 302 points coming from just the three (3) relay events. Nearly half that total came in the very first Girl’s event, the 200 Medley Relay. We took both the Gold and the Bronze on great swims by these girls:
- Our Girls 200 Medley “A” Relay of Lucy Garvey (SR), Angie Testani (FR), Clara Condon (FR), and Mary Pennefather (JR) broke the Meet Record and won the Gold medal with their best swim of the season. While all the girls swam very well, only Clara and Mary actually swam PRs – Clara, a lifetime-best 27.28 50 Fly split, and Mary, a season-best 25.79 50 Free split. It’s exciting for me to think how much lower they can go from this 1:53.18 when they swim in Prelims and Finals at States!
- Our Girls 200 Medley “B” Relay of Emily Flynn (SR), Clare Waldron (SR), Isabelle Luevano (SR), and Maggie Gibbons (SO) surprised even me with their Bronze medal finish. They came into the meet seeded 6th so no one was expecting it. Emily led off with the fastest 50 Back stroke she’s ever swum, Mary Clare was right on her lifetime-best 50 Breast split, Isabelle beat her lifetime-best 50 Fly split by a half second at 29.56, and Maggie Gibbons anchored with a very strong 27.40. The most exciting thing about this relay was that they beat the Trinity Christian “A” Relay!
Our Girls 200 Free “A” Relay of Angie Testani (FR), Lucy Garvey (SR), Maggie Gibbons (SO), and Mary Pennefather (JR) took the Bronze medal in a very close race with Trinity Christian. Looking at the splits, I am very confident that we can find that elusive .11 seconds – and more – out of these four (4) girls at the upcoming VCAC Conference Championship meet.
Of course, scoring 302.5 points in a Championship Meet does not just happen from with top-3 finishes. Here are the other Scoring and Personal Record swims that contributed to the dominance shown by our Girls’ team:
- Isabelle Luevano (SR) has really ramped it up over the past few weeks, seemingly getting stronger each week. Her tremendously long freestyle propelled her to two 6th place scoring finishes in the 50 and 100 Free, with a .12 second PR in the former. Isabelle’s 50 Free also hit the State cut!
- Teresa Bingham (SR) scored in 6th place for 200 IM and 12th place in 100 Fly.
- Madelyn Zadnik (FR) swam well in the 200 IM, scoring 4.5 points in a tie for 8th
- Emily Flynn (SR) scored 11 points individually with an 8th place finish in 500 Free and a 9th place finish in 100 Fly. She also swam a .11 second PR in 50 Back leading off the medley.
- Mary Clare Waldron (SR) is getting very close to that State cut in 100 Breaststroke. Her 1:17.19 on Saturday just missed the cut but was good enough to score 4 points for 9th
- Elodie Brox (FR) scored in 10th in 50 Free and swam at 4.18 second PR in 100 Breaststroke, despite an injured wrist.
- Mary O’Malley (SR) took 10th place with a strong swim in 200 Freestyle.
- Maggie Gibbons (SO) swam right on her PRs for 50 and 100 Free, taking 12th and 13th
- Lily Byers (SR) had an inspired swim in 200 Free, beating her previous best by 7.76 seconds to score in 12th
- Jacqueline Oswald (JR) is knocking on the door to score at VCAC Champs after two (2) big PRs in 200 Free and 100 Back. She dropped 6.43 seconds in 200 Free and .48 seconds in 100 Back.
- Haley Fifield (FR) had a great swim in 100 Backstroke, lowering her PR by 1.90 seconds. And but for an uncharacteristic one-hand touch in 200 IM, she would have had a huge PR in 200 IM too.
- Céilí Koehr (SR) ended her high school career on Saturday with two great swims. In 50 Free, she finally broke the elusive :30 second barrier to go 29.78 after a big .98 second PR, and in the 500 Free, she dropped 5.14 seconds to finish her career with a PR of 7:01.47.
- Sophia Zadnik (SR) has one meet left, and she made the most of her opportunity Saturday with a 1.00 second PR in 100 Fly.
Divers are Poised to Score at States
Under the tutelage of Coach Ashley Keapproth and Coach Seamus Koehr, our Diving Team is really starting to assert itself. The vast improvement that we seen this season was on full display with two (2) Diving meets on the docket.
On Friday night, we held the VCAC Conference Diving Championship Meet. Yes, it is eight (8) days before the swimming portion of the Conference Championship Meet, but it was the only time we could get time on the diving boards, so we went for it.
We used a unique format for the competition where we combined both a 6-dive and an 11-dive format. The first six (6) dives were scored for the Conference Championship meet and then we scored all 11 dives to see if we could get our final divers qualified for States.
Here are how the scores looked. The top-3 finishers in the 6-Dive competition will be designated as All-Conference:
With those great performances, Rose Waldron (FR) and Emma Catabui (SR) added themselves to State team after successfully completing 11 different dives for a score of 2.5 or higher.
They will join Connor Koehr (FR), Mick Fioramonti (SO), JJ Brox (JR), Josh Fioramonti (8), and Mary Clare Waldron (SR) at Cub Run Recreation Center for the VISAA State Diving Championships in two weeks.
Only about 12 hours later, our Divers returned to the Freedom Center for an 11-Dive Championship meet that was part of the VISAA Division II Invitational. Again, they all dove well, but the results within the Boy’s team were nearly the reverse of what they were the night before. It is going to be fun watching these boys compete in the future:
With just a cursory look at these numbers, you probably noticed that Trinity Christian’s Harper Thornett (JR) is something special. He’s even more special in person. Seton will definitely be cheering for him to win Gold at States!
The Boys Deserve Some Love too!
I have spent a lot of time, probably too much time, talking about our Girls. So, let’s give the boys some love because they definitely earned some.
Despite getting off to a rough start with a DQ of our 200 Medley “A” Relay in the very first event, I was very pleased with the way the boys who competed swam.
With only 42 Varsity swimmers and divers competing, Seton had a total of 37 PRs on Saturday. For those of you keeping count (like me!), that brings our season PR total to 927 with two meets to go. Will we get to our goal of 1,000? It’s going to be close.
Here are the boys who either scored or swam PRs on Saturday:
- Joe Wilson (JR) was our highest individual scorer, not counting those boys with big diving points. He took 7th in 200 IM and 8th in 100 Fly.
- JJ Brox (JR) didn’t just score in Diving. He also scored in 6th place in 100 Breaststroke, but his best swim of the day was in 200 IM where he cut 3.35 seconds from his Personal Record.
- Mick Fioramonti (SO) scored in both swimming and diving. In swimming, his 2.06 second PR in 100 Back jumped him up to 10th place, and he cut .13 seconds in 100 Fly.
- Connor Koehr (FR) was our third male swimmer to score in both swimming and diving. In the 500 Free he dropped another 1.20 seconds and scored in 11th He also cemented his spot as the lead-off backstroker on our “A” medley relay with a 29.43 second 50 Back PR, an improvement of another .43 seconds.
- Seth Kellogg (FR) powered through some headache pain to score in 10th place in the 200 IM with a 4.94 second Personal Record.
- Michael Brox (FR) scored in 10th place in a fast heat of 200 Freestyle.
- Joey Dealey (JR) had a three-PR performance on Saturday. In 200 Free he dropped 1.62 seconds to score in 11th He also dropped 3.17 seconds in 100 Breaststroke and 1.84 seconds in 100 Free to lead-off the 400 Free Relay. His 100 Free time broke 1:00 for the first time – congratulation Joey on that 59.54!
- David Hudson (SO) swam two (2) PRs on Saturday. He dropped .05 in 50 Free and .45 seconds in 100 Back. His 100 Backstroke performance scored in 11th
- William Sokban (FR) busted a 16.35 second PR in 500 Free to jump up to the final scoring place of 12th. He also dropped .76 seconds in 100 Fly.
- Max Wilson (FR) swam two (2) PRs. His first PR was in 100 Fly, by .42 seconds, and his second PR was in 100 Back, by 2.68 seconds. That swim in 100 Back was good enough to jump up to 12th place for a score.
- Joseph Rowzie (SR) has found a new gear here at the end of his senior season. How about a 4.29 second PR in 100 Free and a 1.30 second PR in 50 Free!? His 50 Free broke :26 seconds for the first time.
- Joseph Borneman (FR) had a monster meet with two huge PRs. In the 200 Free he dropped 2.79 seconds, and in the 100 Fly, he dropped 7.38 seconds.
- Chris Lynch (SO) has really been coming into his own over the past few weeks – ever since his great Breaststroke swim in the VCAC Invitational that first swimming weekend in January. His improvement continued on Saturday with a 5.83 second PR in 100 Fly and another 1.34 second improvement in 100 Breaststroke.
- Peter Konstanty (SO) cut .14 seconds from his 200 Free PR.
- Michael McGrath (SO) had a nice swim in 100 Free, beating his previous PR by .16 seconds.
We are near the end of our time in the water now, but we are not at the end of our goals.
On Saturday night, February 12th, we will have the final real meet of our season, the 1st Annual VCAC Conference Championship Meet at the Fitch WARF in Warrenton.
For the Boys, our main goal is to redeem our 1-point loss to Trinity Christian last January 9th and to get as many swimmers as possible into the Top-3 individually for All-Conference honors.
For the Girls, we can never look past Trinity Christian, so we will be suiting up for victory in the Conference Championship Meet, and like the Boys, attempting to get as many girls as possible into the Top-3 individually for All-Conference honors. But our goals do not stop there.
Can we get our 6th VISAA Division II State Championship for the Girls and our 10th overall? Let’s not quit until we have it!
Five (5) more practices. Let’s make the most of them!
Coach Jim Koehr