Loyola Blakefield’s return to the top of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference in swimming happened quickly at the conference championship meet Saturday at McDonogh.
The Dons (438.50 points), who opened the meet with a decisive win in the 200-yard medley relay behind seniors Nick Breschi, Kevin Blum, and Thomas Brennan, and junior Trey Perry, grabbed a 32-26 lead over McDonogh — the team that dethroned Loyola last year — and never looked back to claim their 19th title in the past 20 years.
McDonogh finished second (281), followed by Calvert Hall (158) Mount St Joseph (150.50) and Gilman (88).
After Loyola sophomore Cole Buese edged McDonogh juniors Henry Stephens and Ian Silverman in the 200 freestyle, the Dons’ hot start continued with Blum beating Mount St. Joseph senior Andrew McKissick in the 200 individual medley and Buese topping teammate Perry in the 50 freestyle.
When Loyola junior J.P. Clancy and teammate Brennan finished first and second, respectively, in the 100 butterfly, and Dons junior Daniel Moreno beat Mount St. Joseph sophomore Andrew Sanchez in the 100 freestyle, Loyola's lead grew to more than 100 points.
Although Silverman easily won the 500 freestyle over McKissick to salvage some pride for the Eagles, Loyola came right back to claim another victory in the 200 freestyle relay with Buese, Clancy, Moreno and Perry combining to win the event.
Even with a 333-180 lead at that point, the Dons did not slow down.
Breschi finished first in the 100 backstroke, Blum did the same in the 100 breaststroke and the 400 freestyle relay squad (Buese, Clancy, Moreno and senior Alex Bennett) also won.
“Right after we lost last year, we knew we had to get back to work,” said Blum, who will swim at Georgetown.
McDonogh coach Scott Ward said almost every swimmer on his team turned in personal-best performances.
“We had a really good meet, but Loyola is just so good,” he said. “They had a great year.”
Blum said the Dons, who earned a National Catholic title a couple of weeks ago, “had more focus and determination” this season.
“It’s tough that we lost last year,” he said. “But in our eyes, the title is back where it belongs.”