Bowie swimming coach Patti Bayly received a pleasant surprise shortly before the Maryland State Invitational on Saturday.
Several of the Bulldogs' swimmers had qualified to participate in the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving championships that day. But despite having Bayly's blessing to go to the more prestigious Metros event, all of Bowie's swimmers decided to compete in the Maryland Invitational.
"I was so happy about that," Bayly said. "They decided it would be more fun to compete with the rest of their team."
Minus senior sprinter Megan Johnson, the anchor on two relays, who was sick, the Bulldogs swept the boys' and girls' titles. The boys compiled 269 points to defeat Southern Maryland Athletic Conference power McDonough (251) and 13 other teams, and the girls scored 273 to withstand a surprising performance by runner-up Laurel (263) and beat 14 other squads.
Bowie's performance was particularly impressive considering that most of Bayly's swimmers had been out of the water for more than a week due to the blizzard that shut down schools and practices.
"The majority of my kids don't swim on" United States Swimming Club teams, Bayly said, "so they hadn't had any training at all."
Junior Erik Mitchell had little trouble shaking off rust. One of the Bulldogs who could have competed in Metros, he won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races in meet records of 51.21 seconds and 1 minute 53.55 seconds, respectively. He also anchored the runner-up 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Junior Chris Reed was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly.
The Bowie girls were led by freshman Joy Peterson, who won the 200 free by nearly five seconds and finished second in the 500. Junior Janna Green was second in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.
Junior Laura McCray keyed the Laurel girls' runner-up finish with victories in the 200 IM (2:21.81) and 100 free (58.26).
Roosevelt junior Matthew Hoffman won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke races, and High Point sophomore Ketrin Nielsen won the girls' 100 breaststroke.
No Repeat for Stags
DeMatha's wrestling team had reason to celebrate long before finishing second at the National Prep Championships at Lehigh (Pa.) University last weekend.
Not until Stags Coach Dick Messier opened the tournament program early last Friday did he discovered an important piece of information from last year's championships: DeMatha had won. Messier took the Stags home last year thinking that they had finished second to Blair (N.J.) Academy in the high school division. Instead, Blair was entered only in the postgraduate division, leaving DeMatha unknowingly on top.
"The tournament history is listed on the first page [of the program], and I looked all the way down [the list of champions], and it said DeMatha won it last year," said Messier, who has led the Stags to seven National Prep titles. "I was surprised. We were all surprised. I said let's celebrate it by winning another one."
DeMatha fell short of a repeat, finishing behind Blair but returned to Hyattsville with two individual champions and a four points better than Baltimore rival Mount Saint Joseph. Sophomore 112-pounder Mike Rowe claimed his second National Prep championship, and junior 135-pounder Rudy Rueda earned his third.
Rowe, who has not lost since December, completed the season 58-2 by defeating Brent McCurdy of Germantown (Pa.) Academy, 3-0, in the final. Rowe pinned his first four opponents to bring his season-total to 38 and, with a 103-4 career record, has taken a big step toward challenging Wes Cummings's school record of 220 career victories.
"He is real focused, and he knew what he had to do," Messier said of Rowe, whose only two losses came at the Beast of the East tournament. "From that point on, his goal was to wrestle real well throughout the season and get ready for this."
Rueda completed the season undefeated since returning in January from a back injury that sidelined him for nearly a month. The two-time All-Met pinned four opponents, including a 20-second win over Tim Hulme in the final.
"I think it showed a lot of persistence for him to come back," Messier said. "He had that goal in mind to be a three-time champion. That was a big motivating force that made him push at the end of January and beginning of February."
Sophomore 119-pounder Cam Watkins placed second, and junior 189-pounder Gary Stewart was fourth.