Last season, Western Albemarle used depth and quality performances throughout its lineup to claim the VHSL Class 3 girls state swimming and diving championship.
Coach Dan Bledsoe’s team utilized a similar formula Tuesday as the Warriors (146 points) edged Jefferson District rivals Monticello (116) and Fluvanna County (95) to win the Region 3C championship at Brooks Family YMCA.
Western Albemarle won just three events, but scored big points in several key events to secure the regional title.
Kathryn Burr set the standard in the 200-yard individual medley with a state qualifying time of 2 minutes, 15.17 seconds to get the ball rolling for the Warriors.
Casey D’Atre captured gold in the 1-meter diving competition, which was held last Saturday, with a score of 348.75 points for Western Albemarle.
Team captain Sophie O’Donnell teamed with Libby Addison, Casey Phillips and Julie Addison to cap the meet with a victory in the 400 freestyle relay with another state qualifying time (3:44.31) that secured the regional title.
“I think that just puts us in a really good place going into states,” O’Donnell said. “It just sets us up knowing that we’re doing really well and if we win another state title, that’s great. Obviously if we don’t, that’s going to be fine too, because we have such a good atmosphere as a team to swim fast. Regardless if we walk away with a state title, I know that I’m going to have so much fun with my teammates. Knowing that we won this meet, it just amps us up and gives us even more energy to push even more next week.”
Lilly Fitzpatrick finished second in the 100 backstroke with a state qualifying time (1:10.22) for the Warriors. Noa Steven placed third in 100 backstroke (1:01.62) and O’Donnell took home bronze in the 500 freestyle with a state qualifying time of 5:28.93.
“I don’t always do the 500, but [Coach] Dan [Bledsoe] always puts me in a good place to be successful and I was really happy with my time,” O’Donnell said. “I haven’t gone sub- 5:30 in a while, so that felt pretty good. I was right next to Ellie Shaps too and just having a teammate next to me is just so encouraging to race and just knowing everyone is counting on me behind the blocks, cheering for me, it’s just so motivating to do well.”
Rockbridge County (82) finished fourth in the girls division, followed by Spotswood (58). Waynesboro (49), Turner Ashby (29), Charlottesville (25), Brookville (20), Liberty Christian Academy (18), Broadway (12) and Heritage-Lynchburg (2).
For O’Donnell, Tuesday’s goal was not about winning, but qualifying people to participate in next week’s VHSL Class 3 state championships.
“Going into today, I only had one state cut and I really wanted to earn more to help the team,” she said. “We have so much depth, so the more people that can qualify in other races, the better, because it really sets us up to be successful.”
Izzy Bradley was an all-state performer for the Monticello girls swim team last season at the VHSL Class 3 state swim and diving championships. The sophomore standout is primed to duplicate that accomplishment this year after another standout performance on Tuesday.
Bradley won two relay events and added an individual regional title to her resume to lead the Mustangs.
She led off the 200 medley relay and teamed with Elisabeth Bendall, Athena Vanyo and Kayleigh Stebbins to win the event with a state qualifying time of 1:47.61.
“The energy in the relays was super high and it definitely affected our performance,” Bradley said. “Finishing with gold was exactly what we want and it puts us in a really good position for states, which is ultimately what we want and we’re super excited for that.”
The same quartet captured top honors in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.22) with another state cut time.
Individually, Bradley posted another state cut time in her victory in the 100 backstroke (59.55). She nearly added a fourth as she finished just behind Vanyo (56.50) for top honors in the 100 butterfly.
“Racing Athena is always the best in the 100 fly,” Bradley said. “Going 1-2 is great for the school and it’s really exciting. Then in the 100 back, just finishing off the meet where we want, with a gold and helping my teammates get those state cuts is definitely something I value.”
Bradley was pleased with her performance.
“In the relays and the 100 fly, yes, I thought those were great times,” Bradley said. “In the 100 back, it was a super quick turnaround after the 200 free relay, but going under a minute in every race is a good goal.”
Eloise Weary placed third in the 200 freestyle with a state qualifying time of 2:00.94. She also teamed with Adaire Burnsed, Josefine Van Beek and Vanyo to earn runner-up honors in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:45.24, another state cut time.
Abigayle Harlow set the standard in both of her individual events to lead the Fluvanna County girls to a third-place finish at the regional meet.
The senior captured gold in the 50 freestyle with a state qualifying time of 24.88. She also touched the wall first in the 100 breaststroke with a state time of 1:08.69.
Abigail Fuller placed second in the 100 freestyle for the Flucos with a state time of 53.26. Thea Thomsen was third in the 200 IM (2:22.54) and Lauren Davis garnered bronze in the 1-meter diving (340.20).
Western boys second
The Warriors won three individual events and added a relay title to finish second at Tuesday’s Region 3C swimming and diving championships at Brooks Family YMCA.
Western Albemarle (134) finished just behind Brookville (140) for the team title. Fluvanna County (115) was third, followed by Spotswood (80), Monticello (37), Turner Ashby (35), Wilson Memorial (30), Rockbridge County (28) Charlottesville (16), Liberty Christian Academy (16) Waynesboro (8), Heritage (6) and Broadway (5).
Sam Johnson led the Warriors with a victory in the 100 backstroke with a state qualifying time of 56.01.
“I think it was a really good race,” Johnson said. “It was a little rough around the edge with a few things but other than that, it was a really good race. I thought [my time] was OK, considering it’s in season and I’m not exactly tapered and suited yet, but I was just happy.”
Noah Hargrove garnered top honors in the 100 freestyle with a state time of 47.21. William Peritz captured first-place in the 1-meter diving competition with 387.55 points.
Peyton Wray finished second in the 100 freestyle (49.82) and Noah Johnson was third in the 200 freestyle (1:50.52). Both were state qualifying times.
Noah Johnson, Jack Smith, Matthew Heilman and Anthony Garono won gold in the 400 freestyle relay with a state cut time of 3:20.59. Wray, Heilman, Noah Johnson and Ryan Kennedy were second in the 200 freestyle relay with another state time (1:32.98).
Woodson wins gold
Ahmad Woodson captured a regional title in the 200 freestyle (1:49.67) to lead Fluvanna County to a third-place finish in the boys team standings.
“I felt really good going into the meet, but it was like mind over matter,” Woodson said. “I didn’t think I was going to make that time, but I was really happy about it and hope to get a better time at states.”
The junior also collaborated with Austin Fairbanks, Tyler Harris and Jacob Ondek to finish third in the 400 freestyle relay (3:35.91).
Hunter Strickland also had a big performance for the Flucos.
The junior took home runner-up honors in the 200 IM (2:01.11) and the 100 butterfly (54.40) and earned state qualifying times in the process.
He also teamed with Owen Strickland, Augustus Jones and Connor Bridge to win the 200 freestyle relay with a state time of 1:31.76.
The same quartet was second in the 200 medley relay with another state time (1:41.93).
Jason Dech earned silver in the 1-meter diving competition (385.35).
Woodson admits that facing Western Albemarle brings the best out in his team.
“Fluvanna County and Western are a big rivalry,” Woodson said. “Some of my [swim] club mates from Western were giving me a push to beat them.”
Jack Culbreath paced Monticello with a third-place finish in the 50 freestyle (23.20).