RICHMOND — Western Albemarle’s Noah Hargrove and Tyce Winter and Monticello’s Izzy Bradley each left SwimRVA with big smiles on their faces Friday night after turning in elite performances during the VHSL Class 3 state swimming and diving championships.
Hargrove and Winter each captured two individual titles and collaborated to win a state title in a relay event as the Warriors set themselves up to bring home their third straight state championship.
Hargrove repeated as state champion with a come-from-behind victory in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1 minute, 51.91 seconds. The senior also set the set the standard in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.56 to win his first state crown in that event.
“As usually, the team builds off the team,” Hargrove said. “People stepped up from the first swim, and then someone stepped up again, and we just built and built.”
Winter was a dominant force in the sprint events for Western Albemarle. The senior captured top honors in the 50-yard freestyle (51.21) and the 100-yard freestyle (47.01) to earn double gold.
“I’ve said it before, I don’t care at all where I place,” Winter said. “I can come in last place in my heat or in the finals, but if we win the state championship, for the team, for the school, for the county, it’s the best feeling in the world. I love it.”
Hargrove and Winter then joined Sam Johnson and Andrew Holzwarth to win the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:28.80).
“It’s more than an individual sports,” Hargrove said. “I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done that without the people around me. It’s more of a team win than a me win.”
Sophomore Sam Johnson won gold in the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.34) and was fourth in the 100-yard butterfly. Peyton Wray also was fourth in the 100-yard backstroke for the Warriors.
Western Albemarle finished the swimming portion of the meet with 346 points, and held a commanding lead over Independence (200) and Maggie Walker-Governor’s School (198) in team standings. The diving portion will take place Saturday at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond and the eventual champion will be crowned at that time. Diving was supposed to take place Thursday but was postponed due to snow.
“We told everyone on the guys team and the girls team, you can lose it in prelims,” Winter said. “We made that very clear, that we’re going to come out in prelims with a ton of energy and a ton of good swims, and that’s what we did. We really set ourselves up for great performance.”
On the girls’ side, Bradley took home four state championships and set a pair of Class 3 state records as Monticello (228) led defending state champion Western Albemarle (217.5) heading into Saturday’s diving portion.
The sophomore successfully defended her 50-yard freestyle title with a new Class 3 record time of 23.23. She also captured top honors in the 100-yard backstroke (54.44).
“That’s what you want to see in a meet like this,” Bradley said. “You want to win for your team and your school, and that’s exactly what we did. We couldn’t be prouder.”
Monticello’s Athena Vanyo reclaimed her 100-yard butterfly Class 3 state title with a victory in 54.51. She also finished second in the 200 IM (2:04.52). Elisabeth Bendall garnered silver in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.74).
“This means so much,” Vanyo said. “We did so much more than we expected to do. It’s nice to take home.”
The Mustangs were the talk of the morning sessions as the 200-yard medley relay team of Bradley, Elisabeth Bendall, Vanyo and Kayleigh Stebbins set a new Class 3 state record. The quartet bettered that mark in the finals as they posted a time of 1:45.10 to beat their morning session by .48 of a second.
“I think it was the energy form all of us,” Bradley said. “Every one of the girls were so ready and we were so pumped, and just carrying it out from prelims to finals is exactly what we wanted, It’s so exciting and we’re super happy.”
Just before the second intermission, Bradley, Stebbins, Eloise Weary and Vanyo captured gold in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a record-setting time of 1:37.00.
“The fact that we re-broke our own records, that was so amazing,” Vanyo said.
Western Albemarle had 12 swimmers qualify for Friday night’s championship finals and once again used its depth to keep itself in the hunt for a third state title in five years.
“It’s so exciting,” O’Donnell said. “This team is just so rewarding and fun, and just to come back every year and have so much success it just feels so good. Every time I walk into this pool, I know that I’m just a part of this team.”
Monticello girls (228) leads the Warriors (217.5) through the swimming portion. The diving portion will take place Saturday at St. Catherine’s in Richmond. Western Albemarle has three divers slated to compete in Saturday’s state championship meet, while the Mustangs did not have a diver qualify.
“Every year, we’re coming in with new people that are just so fast,” Western Albemarle senior captain Sophie O”Donnell said. “Every year, we just keep getting better and it’s just so fun to watch.”
Fluvanna County finished seventh overall after the swimming portion with 104 points. Abigail Fuller led the Flucos with a second-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (23.70) and a third-place effort in the 100-yard freestyle (52.10).