The Richard Montgomery High School boys’ and Winston Churchill girls’ swimming and diving teams secured 4A/3A West Region Championships on Saturday at Martin Luther King Swim Center in Silver Spring.
The Bulldogs eked out a 350-337 victory over defending state champion Thomas S. Wootton. Walter Johnson came in third with 249 points, while Richard Montgomery (225) and Northwest (212) rounded out the top five.
“I think the team did really well today,” Churchill junior Elaina Gu said. “We really stepped it up and did amazing at this meet. I think we set ourselves up for a good performance at states too.”
Gu was the standout performer for the Bulldogs, repeating as 200-meter freestyle champion, while also nabbing a first place finish in the 500-meter freestyle event. She also contributed to a pair of first-place relay finishes in the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle events.
“I really like being on relays because it’s more of a team thing — swimming is usually individual, but with the relays you work with your teammates,” Gu said. “I just really have fun doing the relays. I really like it.”
Hannah Lindsey also turned in a strong performance for Churchill, winning region titles in both the 200-meter individual medley as well as the 100-meter backstroke.
Meanwhile, Richard Montgomery amassed 303 total points, followed by Wootton (268.5) and Walt Whitman (261.5). Two-time defending state champion Walter Johnson finished fourth (255.5), and Churchill (249) secured a fifth-place finish.
The Vikings set the lone meet record of the day, shaving .44 seconds off of the 400-meter freestyle relay mark set just last season by Walter Johnson. Wildcats coach Geoff Schaefer was encouraged by the record, as well as the performance of individuals such as Mike Sullivan (first in both the 200 and 500 freestyle) and Johnny Mooers (second in both the 50 and 100 freestyle).
“They all have the same focus — they want to do well for states, get geared up for a state record, and walk out as champions,” he said. “I think when they got on the block, they had that focus of ‘I want to win this thing. Not just kinda win, but dominate.’ That’s they way they are supposed to win.”
Interestingly, the Rockets cliched the region title with winning just one event win — the 200-meter medley relay. The display of depth was business as usual for Richard Montgomery, which won a Division I title two weeks ago with just two event victories, and a third-place finish last week at Metros with no individual winners.
“Their times were so-so today, but they got their places where they needed to,” Rockets coach Aryn Wheeler said. “They knew where they had to place. They knew if they were in the third heat instead of the last heat, they knew they had to try to win that race to place in the next heat. That’s what they were really going for today, to get as high of a finish as they could and make it to states next week.”
Gregory Song finished second in both the 200-meter individual medley and the 500-meter freestyle for Richard Montgomery, while Juan Barrera took second in the 100-meter butterfly as well as sixth in the 200-meter freestyle. The Rockets also finished second in the 200-meter freestyle relay.
“We are rolling, we are on the right track,” Wheeler said. “This is something really big. Our school hasn’t won a state title in almost 20 years, so this is something really big for us. That’s what the boys want. Since day one, that’s what they’ve wanted to do. It’ll be exciting next weekend.”
Notable team standings:
1. Richard Montgomery 303; 2. Thomas S. Wootton 268.5; 3. Walt Whitman 261.5; 4. Walter Johnson 255.5; 5. Winston Churchill 249.
1. Winston Churchill 350; 2. Thomas S. Wootton 337; 3. Walter Johnson 249; 4. Richard Montgomery 225; 5. Northwest 212.