Western Albemarle girls and boys swimming makes qualifying as many swimmers for the state meet as humanly possible a priority.
Maybe priority isn’t the right word. The Warriors are borderline obsessive about giving everyone the opportunity to qualify. It shows too, as Western pushed another wave of swimmers into the state meet Friday while sweeping the Region 3C girls and boys championships at Brooks Family YMCA.
“Each athlete on the team, whether they are a year round swimmer, diver, or a high school only athlete feel that they have an opportunity to contribute in some way,” said Western coach Dan Bledsoe. “Qualifying this many people for the state meet takes the pressure off any one single individual because they know that their teammates will pick them up if they have a less than great performance.”
Make no mistake too, that goal creates a tremendous amount of buy-in throughout the squad, which helps fuel that depth and take it to the next level.
“Each day whether it is in the pool, at dryland, or hanging out at school the kids are supportive of each other and push each other to be their best,” Bledsoe said. “Today’s results are a testament to that supportive environment.”
The Warriors qualified so many swimmers either through state cuts or as one of the top individuals Friday or in the top four relays that some athletes won’t get a chance to swim at states because of entry limitations. It’s not a problem, obviously, that very many programs run into.
Despite that focus which can lead to certain swimmers who’d easily win or place in, the Warriors managed to lock up the region titles, with the girls scoring 155.5 points to hold off a strong performance by Fluvanna County, who took second place with 140 points. Western’s boys scored 149 points to outpace Brookville 149-119.
Western’s girls took a big step toward potentially winning the Class 3 state title with the region title win and a slew of key qualifiers grabbing top five finishes to swim their way into the state meet. In the relays, the Warriors won the 400 free relay, took third in the 200 medley relay and took the runner-up spot in the 200 free relay. With qualifying as the focus, only Virginia Smith won an individual event region title, taking the 200 freestyle and leading a pack of four Warriors that were in the top five in that event with Maya Chatterson taking second, Meredith Martin taking third and Katie Herndon taking fifth. Martin was also the runner-up in the 500 free while Herndon took fifth in the 500 free. Kayleigh Jumper was the 200 IM runner-up leading Sydney Durron who was fourth in that event and Kimball Sheehan who took fifth. Sara Randolph Warren was fourth in the 100 fly, Claudia James took fifth in the 100 free, Clare O’Connell was third in the 100 back, Darrah Sheehan took fourth in the 100 back and Maeci Drank placed third in the 100 breast.
Fluvanna County girls’ runner-up bid was driven by a strong relay performance and a trio of swimmers who won double individual event titles. The Flucos won the 200 medley relay and won the 200 free relay while placing fourth in the 400 free relay. Abigail Fuller won the 200 IM and the 50 free while Abigayle Harlow won the 100 fly and 100 breast and Maialen Sudupe won the 100 free and 500 free. Allyson Lounsbury placed third in the 50 free and Emma DiFazio was the runner-up in the 100 back.
Monticello’s girls squad took fourth, qualifying all three relays with a runner-up in the 200 medley relay, third place finishes in the 200 free and 400 free. Izzy Bradley won the 100 bac while Kate Jordan was fourth in the 200 free and third in the 500 free. Elizabeth Bendall was third in the 200 IM, Kayleigh Stebbins took fourth in the 50 free and Emma Lawson was fourth in the 100 breast.
Boys Region 3C Recap
Western Albemarle’s boys continued their march to defend their state title from 2018 by winning the Region 3C title while sweeping all three relay championships.
With qualifying again the goal, August Lamb didn’t swim his usual races, but won the 50 free. Noah Johnson was the runner-up in the 200 free and Stephane Karp was the runner-up in the 100 free. Ben Kunkel (100 fly), Matthew Hellman (200 IM), Josiah Walcott (200 free), Liam Giulliano-Dunn (100 back) and Alex He (100 breast) all took home third place finishes to earn automatic qualifying spots in the state meet. Andrew Holzwarth and Jackson Schundler tied for fourth in the 200 IM to get into the state mix.
Fluvanna County’s boys had several state qualifiers while finishing fourth as a team. The Flucos took third in the 200 free relay, Hunter Strickland won the 200 IM and took fourth 100 free while Owen Strickland took fourth in the 100 back. Augustus Jones was the runner-up in the 100 fly and fourth in the 100 breast
Monticello’s boys took sixth as a team, taking fourth in 200 medley relay and third in the 400 free relay. Andrew Lamb placed fifth in the 200 freeand Jack Culbreath took third in the 50 free.