Neither snow, nor sleet, nor lack of preliminary heats could stop Oakton freestyler Katherine Finegan from delivering a virtuoso performance last night at the Virginia AAA Northern Region Swimming and Diving Championships.
The sophomore posted a pair of personal-best times to win the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and break Northern Region records in both events.
Finegan did so with no room for error. Because of the winter storm that blanketed the Washington area with snow Thursday and Friday, preliminary heats scheduled for Friday night were canceled and the swimming portion of the region meet was reduced to one day.
"I was actually fine with it," Finegan said of the condensed format. "I figure if you're only swimming [an event] once, you really have to get it done."
Finegan swam the 50 freestyle in 23.86 seconds and defended her 100 freestyle region title in 51.65. In the 50, Finegan overcame a deficit at the midway point to edge Herndon senior Mason Walsh, who also bested the previous region mark, by four-hundredths of a second.
The Jefferson girls' team -- led by junior Emily Verdin, who won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke -- had a comfortable lead that seemed to ensure a second straight team crown. The Colonials won a second straight team championship by compiling 311 points. South Lakes finished second with 204 followed by Robinson (195.5).
In the boys' team competition, Robinson knocked off two-time defending champion Jefferson. The Rams totalled 346 points to upend Jefferson (206). Herndon placed third with 184 points.
Yorktown senior Meghan Thiel was another double winner, taking the 200 and 500 freestyle events in 1:52.17 and 4:55.22, respectively.
In 200 free, one of the night's most competitive races, Thiel held off Jefferson sophomore Jenny Basel and South Lakes sophomore Caroline Bellis. Thiel beat a surging Basel by just .49 seconds.
"The other girls definitely helped me out," said Thiel, who has orally committed to swim at American University but will take a year off first.
For the second straight year, All-Met seniors Mike Ott of Oakton and Chris Meleski of South Lakes both won two events.
Ott won the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle, and Meleski won the 200 and 500 freestyle crowns.
Ott's 200 IM victory was his third in a row at the Northern Region meet. The Princeton-bound senior pulled away in the third leg, the breaststroke, and finished in 1:54.79 to win by nearly four seconds.