Gonzaga Coach Josh Klotz glanced up at the timing board and then quickly back to his meet sheet, his look uncertain. Senior Sean Maloney had placed second in the boys’ 100-yard breaststroke. Freshman Devin McNulty was seventh. Georgetown Prep’s top swimmer in the event touched last in eighth place.
The result all but sealed an improbable fourth consecutive Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swimming and Diving League (WMPSSDL) championship for the Eagles.
Gonzaga won just a single event during the six-hour meet in the sweltering Takoma Aquatic Center, but it was enough to beat longtime rival Georgetown Prep, 441-435. Bishop O’Connell was a distant third (172).
It was not the result the Eagles’ third-year coach expected.
“I’m not sure how we did it, really. I’m a little stunned, but happy for our team,” Klotz said.
Georgetown Prep entered the meet as the heavy favorite with a lineup that returned five All-Mets — all juniors — and added two strong freshmen this season. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a Gonzaga team that found a way to overcome its lack of star power.
“This win is really a testament to our depth, to this team’s heart and desire to win,” Klotz said. “The kids swam out of their minds today despite it being less than ideal racing conditions.”
Sophomore Ryan Baker won the boys’ 100 backstroke in a time of 51.12 seconds to claim Gonzaga’s only victory. He edged Georgetown Prep juniors Grant Goddard and Brandon Goldstein, who claimed individual victories in the 200 freestyle (1:41.14) and 100 butterfly (52.28), respectively.
On the girls’ side, Holton-Arms turned in an impressive team performance to win its second consecutive title with 310 points. Stone Ridge finished second (244), followed by St. John’s (200).
“We set the goal of wining ISLs this year and to repeat at WMPSSDLs, and we really rallied behind each other today to accomplish that goal,” captain Emma Raynor said. “Now we’re looking ahead to Metros.”
Holton-Arms received individual victories from juniors Caroline McTaggart, a two-time All-Met, and Isbelle Jubin. They split the sprint freestyle events by taking wins in the 100 and 50, respectively. McTaggart also finished second in the 200 freestyle behind Stone Ridge junior Katie Ledecky, the 2012-2013 All-Met Swimmer of the Year.
Ledecky, who returned to Stone Ridge after winning four gold medals and setting two world records at this summer’s world championships, won back-to-back events in the 200 freestyle (1:45.90) and 200 individual medley (2:01.78), the latter of which broke a 14-year-old meet record by more than five seconds.
Next week at Metros, Ledecky will challenge the American record in the girls’ 500 freestyle, an event in which she already holds the national high school record, while Holton-Arms hopes to move up from last year’s sixth-place finish to challenge Montgomery County’s elite girls’ programs.
Georgetown Prep won four individual events and all three relays, despite Coach Matt Mongelli swimming most of his squad in off-events.
“The focus for us has always been on Metros,” Mongelli said. “Next week, we’ll swim our best events and we’ll see what happens.”
Goddard and fellow All-Met Carsten Vissering won two events each at Metros last year and could lead the Little Hoyas in a sweep of the 11 swimming events at this year’s competition.