When Friendly High School's Gabby Griffin was a sophomore, she placed eighth at the state swimming championship meet. She went to the podium, but there wasn't a spot for her.
“I was really upset about that,” she said.
As a junior, she finished in the top eight again and made it to the podium, but there was a ribbon shortage at the ceremony. She ended up receiving hers in the mail.
Now, as a senior on Saturday, she finished fourth in both the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 2.54 seconds) and 500-yard freestyle (5:31.63) at the Class 3A/2A/1A championships at the University of Maryland, College Park. There was no confusion this time.
“I made people upset by taking their podium spot. I know I did that,” Griffin said.
Griffin was seeded eighth in the 200-yard freestyle after recording slower times at regionals. Her performance surprised the field.
“A lot of people — when I touched the wall — they could not believe that I finished there. I was seeded to lose everything.”
Griffin has been going to state meets since her freshman year.
“I was just happy to be there. I really didn't care what place I got,” Griffin said.
As a freshman and a sophomore, she was the only Patriots' swimmer to advance to states. Teammates have joined her the past two seasons.
“I think that her getting to states every year kind of opened up the kids' eyes to the fact that there is a state championship. It definitely pushed them to work a little bit harder,” Friendly coach Erin Reynolds said.
Reynolds described Griffin as a “goofball” and Patriots senior captain Kyle Patton called her a “wild card.”
Patton said her playful personality fueled Friendly's boys team, which went undefeated during the regular season.
“Even last year, we still watched her on the podium and we just thought we could make it higher, each and every year, and we could always do better,” Patton said.
Griffin was the only participant on the girls' team, which finished 18th overall. The boys' team improved upon last year's performance though failed to record a point.
“This is a big deal for them to even make it,” Reynolds said.
Largo's boys team came in 29th, led by sophomore Ernesto Evans' 14th-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.07).
Poolesville's boys (327) and girls (313.50) swept the competition.