Woodbridge senior Amanda VanHorn was not happy with what she saw moments before the start of Friday's swim meet against Hylton.
The two-time defending Cardinal District champion Vikings entered the pool area in a haze, VanHorn said, unorganized and a bit sluggish. She feared such an attitude against Hylton--which entered the meet tied for second in the district with just one loss--could lead to Woodbridge's first defeat of the season. So VanHorn and the team's other captains gathered the team and led a few spirited cheers to get the Vikings ready to compete.
By meet's end VanHorn was quite pleased with what she saw, a lopsided 205-81 Woodbridge victory in which the Vikings took first place in every event.
"When we first got there Hylton looked real organized, and we were just disheveled," said VanHorn, a four-year swimmer at Woodbridge. "I was afraid their team spirit would carry them. But then we got together and did some cheers and took it from there."
VanHorn did more than cheer. The senior was one of three Woodbridge double-event winners, taking first place in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.
Joining VanHorn with two individual victories were sophomore Casey Quimby (200 and 500 freestyle) and freshman Emily Strouse (50 and 100 freestyle).
VanHorn is one of a number of experienced Vikings swimmers seeking to return to the state meet for the second time in as many years. Quimby and Strouse, meanwhile, represent a group of young talented swimmers who should provide the team greater depth at the state level.
VanHorn is looking to make the most of her final year at Woodbridge. She has become accustomed to winning, having been a part of two district championship teams and possibly a third. Having gotten a taste of what the state meet was like last season--the Vikings finished sixth overall--VanHorn said she is focused on helping the team get another shot this year.
"I know we are a lot stronger this year because of our depth, and the girls overall are just really strong," VanHorn said. "I foresee us definitely winning districts and hopefully regionals as well. I think we are going to have more people at the state meet, and I think that is going to help."
Quimby and Strouse are just two of the talented underclassmen who have been pushing the veterans all season. Strouse has been one of the biggest surprises for Coach Nancy Doggett, proving to be one of the team's top freestyle swimmers.
Although just a sophomore, Quimby may be the team's most reliable distance swimmer.
"I never have to worry about her," Doggett said of Quimby. "I know exactly what [time] she is going to be. She is either going to do that [time] or go faster. She is reliable, consistent and has a great attitude. And she's a sophomore. . . . All three of these girls are good team players, and they motivate and inspire."
Given the quality of the Vikings young swimmers, VanHorn is excited about the future of the program.
"I think in about two years the girls are going to be insanely strong," VanHorn said.
Woodbridge's boys have re-emerged as a contender for the Cardinal District title this season after edging Hylton, 150-136.
The Vikings (4-1) had won nine consecutive district titles before finishing fourth last season. Behind the swimming of a talented class of seniors, Woodbridge finds itself behind only undefeated Gar-Field in the standings.
Woodbridge was led by three double-event winners: seniors Christian Lindberg (50 freestyle and 100 backstroke) and Michael Hodge (200 IM, 100 breaststroke) and freshman Jeff Holway (100 and 200 freestyle).
Gar-Field vs. Osbourn
The Osbourn girls finished first in every event, led by three double-event winners, in a 175-111 victory over Gar-Field. Wesley Hollinger (200 and 500 freestyle), Kendall Hollinger (200 IM, 100 backstroke) and Elizabeth Belch (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) each won two events for the Eagles (5-1), who trail Woodbridge in the girls standings heading into the final week of the regular season.
The Gar-Field boys remained undefeated (6-0) after defeating Osbourn, 159-127. The Indians were led by first-place finishes from Matt Miller (200 freestyle), Andrew Hicks (50 freestyle) and Brett MacLennan (500 freestyle).
Gar-Field's depth proved to be the difference. The Indians placed first in only four of 11 events but outscored the Eagles in seven events. Osbourn's Aaron Kendle (200 IM and 1OO breast) and Matt Golay (100 fly and 100 back) won two events each.
CAPTION: Senior Amanda VanHorn, left, sophomore Casey Quimby and freshman Emily Strouse have reason to smile: Each won two events in Friday's 205-81 victory over Hylton. VanHorn won the 200 individual medley and 100 breast; Quimby, the 200 and 500 freestyle; and Strouse took first in the 50 and 100 freestyle.