Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Stags, Seton set to battle for league title

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The DeMatha High School swim team will try for its first Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swimming and Diving League title in three years on Saturday, while fellow county private schools Bishop McNamara and Elizabeth Seton each are likely to send at least one swimmer to the finals.

The Stags already handled powerhouses Georgetown Prep and Gonzaga (D.C.) this season. But they have maintained that beating those teams one-on-one doesn’t guarantee them anything at the championship meet at Takoma Aquatic Center in the District.

‘‘There’s so many teams competing that the point spreads are really diverse,” DeMatha senior Alex Smith said after the Gonzaga meet. ‘‘A bunch of kids can come in and grab points, so you’ve got to play it differently. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got your best lineup in there.”

Eight top-eight finishers in eight events last year will compete again for DeMatha. Junior Evan Wollman, who won the 100-yard breaststroke for the Stags’ only individual title, broke his own school record in the event with a 57.98-second finish against Gonzaga on Jan. 22.

Other potential champions include Smith, the 2007 Gazette-Star Swimmer of the Year, in the 200 freestyle and senior Aidan Considine in the 200 individual medley. Smith was the runner-up in the event last year and Considine was third.

DeMatha’s other returning finalists and their top events this weekend are T.J. Creevy (200 freestyle), John Kundrat (200 individual medley), Ross McClurg (100 backstroke), John Schmitz (diving), Colin Stang (100 breaststroke).

Elsewhere in the county, McNamara sophomore Grace Kelly and Seton senior Bianca Thompson are on track to qualify for championship races.

Kelly was the only Mustang to reach the finals at the National Catholic Swimming Championships on Jan. 26, taking sixth in the 100 freestyle. Her time of 55.24 shattered the school record she set last year by two-and-a-half seconds. The time also could be fast enough to put her in the finals at the league meet, as it is nearly a second better than last year’s qualifying cutoff. Kelly swam to 19th in the 500 freestyle in the conference championships last year.

Thompson was the Roadrunners’ lone finalist last year, when she placed eighth in the 50 freestyle. At National Catholics, she had her best time of the season (25.72), more than a tenth of a second faster than her swim at last year’s championships.

And if she can build off her personal best of 55.95 in the 100 freestyle, which she hit in December, Thompson could final in that event as well.

‘‘She’s on fire,” said Seton coach Malcolm McCluskey. ‘‘She’s doing great stuff.”

E-mail Kevin Hilgers at