Patuxent sophomore John Kitner could feel Leonardtown's Eric Pinno slowly making up ground behind him, but as Kitner made one final turn, all he cared about was the wall that waited 25 yards in front of him. A victory in the 200-yard freestyle relay would mean a second consecutive Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title for the Panthers boys.
With one final push, Kitner surged to the wall, holding off Pinno by a body length and sealing the race and the title for Patuxent in a meet-record 1 minute 34.32 seconds. Leonardtown finished in 1:35.60.
Patuxent's John Kitner closes on a win in the 100-yard butterfly. He also swam the anchor leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay, which the Panthers won to clinch the SMAC title.
(Michael Temchine For The Washington Post)
Patuxent finished the meet with 430 points, followed by Leonardtown's 394 and Northern's 313. On the girls' side, Leonardtown backed up its perfect regular season with a convincing win, garnering 416 points yesterday at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover. La Plata was second with 356 and Patuxent third with 339.5.
"I knew Pinno was extraordinarily fast, and once I saw him coming off the wall I knew I had to go much faster than I was going," said Kitner, who also won the 100-yard butterfly in 57.40.
The win was extremely satisfying for the Panthers, who dropped their only dual meet of the season to the Raiders by two points.
"Leonardtown beating us during the regular season only made our kids work harder," Panthers Coach Graham Coombs said. "We did everything we had to do to get rested and get healthy, and we came out here and did our best, and it paid off."
Pinno did all he could to keep the Raiders in the meet, winning the 50-yard freestyle in 22.21 and the 100-yard freestyle in 48.15, both meet records. Great Mills's Will Richards was the only other dual winner of the meet, capturing the 200-yard individual medley in 2:10.03 and the 100-yard breaststroke in a meet-record 1:03.25.
The Leonardtown girls were forced to alter the game plan they have used all season. Junior Allison Davis, the top seed in two events, was forced to withdraw from the meet with the flu, leaving the Raiders to rely on their depth. Leonardtown placed two swimmers in the top 10 in all events but one and were led by wins from junior Jessica Davis in the 200-yard freestyle in 2:20.25 and sophomore Lisa Errington in the 100-yard freestyle in 58.47.
"I expected them to do well, and they swam their hearts out," said Raiders Coach Megan Shelton, who guided her team through its first SMAC season. "All I have to do is go and ask them to swim, and they're going to go in and give us their all."
La Plata senior Krystina Weaver closed out her sterling SMAC career with wins in the 50-yard freestyle in 25.72 and the 100-yard butterfly in 1:06.87. Teammate Mikey Pride took the 200-yard individual medley in 2:22.52, and both were part of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay team (4:01.40).