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Meadowbrook Tomatoes ready to make splash at Straehle Invitational

Talking about the season with Meadowbrook Tomatoes swim coach Robby Priego. (Tom Worgo / BSMG)

Robby Priego came into a great situation as a first-year coach of the highly-regarded Meadowbrook Tomatoes swimming club.

He inherited a team that's the defending Straehle Invitational champions.

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Talk about a little pressure.

"Going into the season, John (Cadigan) said, 'Every year, we are a strong team and we do very, very well,'" Priego said of the comments from the Meadowbrook general manager and former Tomatoes head coach. "So that was the mindset going into it."

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The meet Priego, his coaching staff and swimmers are intently focused on is Wednesday at the Four Seasons Sports Complex in Hampstead.

For some of Priego's swimmers, it's tough to wait that long.

"It's a very important meet to them," said Priego, whose team ended its regular season Saturday at North Saint John in Ellicott City. "When the kids get out of the pool after a race at any given meet, they will come up to me and one of the first things they will say to me is, 'Coach Robby, did I make Straehle time, did I make Straehle time?'"

Not surprisingly given Meadowbook's history, a long list of Tomatoe swimmers qualified for Straehle.

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They include Victoria McCullough (15-18, 50 freestyle, 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly), Quincy Marchelya (13-14, 100 individual medley, 100 free, 50 fly), Jared Goldstein (7-8, 25 back, 25 fly, 25 breaststroke), Marietta Gately (15-18, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 back, 50 breast), Calvin Eisenberg (15-18, 100 IM, 50 breast), Dalton (15-18, 100 free, 100 back) and Kayleigh (15-18, 50 breast) Coe, Cooper Chasm (7-8, 25 back, 25 breast), Billy (15-18, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 back, 50 breast) and Susie (15-18,100 free, 50 back, 50 fly) Cadigan, Grace Black (11-12, 50 back, 50 fly, 50 breast), Ronan Nealis (13-14, 100 IM, 50 back, 50 fly), Dylan Mellendick (7-8, 25 free, 25 back, 25 fly, 25 breast), TJ Matteini (11-12, 100 IM, 50 breast), Sophia Nayden (13-14, 50 breast), Alex Harner (11-12, 50 free, 50 back, 50 breast), Gabriella Alaish (11-12, 50 back), Penny (11-12, 50 free, 50 breast) and Eli (9-10, 50 free, 25 back, 25 fly, 25 breast) Celtnieks, Sophie Bergles (9-10, 25 back) and Shelby (9-10, 25 back, 25 fly), Zoe (7-8, 25 back) and Bailey Jackson (11-12, 50 back, 50 fly) and Caroline (11-12, 100 IM, 50 free, 50 back 50 fly) and Meghan Benda (100 IM, 50 fly, 50 breast).

The Tomatoes talented list of Straehle qualifying swimmers doesn't end there.

Dylan Mellendick (7-8, 25 free, 25 back, 25 fly, 25 breast), Manahil Mian (7-8, 25 back), Elena Levendosky (7-8, 25 free, 25 back, 25 fly), Elizabeth Fry (15-18, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 back, 50 fly, 50 breast), Kacey McKenna (11-12, 100 IM, 50 fly, 50 free, 50 back, 50 fly, 50 breast), Abigail McKenna (13-14, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 breast) and Eliza McKenna (9-10, 100 IM, 50 free, 25 back, 25 fly, 25 breast), Tess Lankford (9-10, 100 IM, 50 breast), Liam McQuaid (7-8, 25 breast, 25 free) and Teddy McQuaid (9-10, 50 fly, 50 breast, 100 free), Gabrielle Alaish (11-12, 50 back), Elizabeth Polydefkis (13-14, 100 IM, 100 free. 50 fly), Mary Marquez (9-10, 50 free, 25 back, 25 breast), Sage (13-14, 100 IM, 50 breast) and Kumi (5-6, 100 IM, 50 breast) Sasaki and Roshan Rao (11-12. 100 IM, 50 free, 50 back, 50 fly), Lucy Ozonoff (15-16, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 fly), Selah Peacock (15-18, 100 IM, 100 free, 50 back, 50 fly, 50 breast) and Greta Peacock (13-14, 50 back, 50 fly), Lance Rombro (15-18, 50 back), Zakari Snoussi (13-14, 50 breast), Matthew Stanco (13-14, 50 breast), Noah Rich (13-14, 50 fly, 50 breast), Margot Thomas (9-10, 25 breast), Ellie Tyberg (7-8, 25 free) and Maya Tyberg (7-8, 25 fly) also advanced.

"The kid's enthusiasm has been fantastic," Priego said. "It's great to see the effort they put in and how much they care. It makes me care that much more about them and want to see them succeed."

Priego and rest of the Meadowbrook coaching staff, which also includes Ryan Miller, Brie Clarke, Brandon Ress, have meshed well with the swimmers.

Priego coached served as an assistant coach at two swim clubs in the Washington D.C.-area for six seasons before coming to Meadowbrook last year.

"Robby has brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the program," Cadigan said. "He comes from the swim school for us. He is a very good stroke instructor. For years, we have gone done the NBAC alumni thing and college kids that have swam for NBAC. We have brought in some people this year and I think the dynamic has worked well. It's been a real fun summer for the kids."

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