The lack of practice time from the recent barrage of snow cancellations had the potential to sow disaster for the swimmers entered in Monday's MPSSAA 1A/2A/3A North region championship meet – all finely-tuned athletes who needed to stay in top condition.
For members of the C. Milton Wright squad, however, the lack of pool time appeared to have little effect, as the Mustangs clobbered the field of 12 teams to take girls, boys and overall titles in the Magnolia Middle School pool.
"I'm really happy with how we did," CMW head coach Debbie King said after her Mustangs were awarded their regional trophies. "We had a really good meet, considering we haven't been able to practice at all."
"It was the same heading into the county championships," King said. "I think we'd had two team practices the week before that, and we had two practices coming into this meet. But, the whole county has had to deal with the same problem. Some of the kids have club teams that they swim with, and others just couldn't make it to a pool at all."
"With swimming, if you miss a week's worth of practice, you might have well have lost a month's worth of conditioning," she added. "It's very hard to stay in shape."
The Mustang girls team outdistanced second-place finisher Harford Tech, 405 to 258.5, while the boys team finished 91 points ahead of second-place Fallston, 341-250.
In the combined competition, CMW tallied 746 points, while Harford Tech took second at 487.5 and Havre de Grace took the final overall podium spot with 470.
Patterson Mill rounded out the top three at the girls meet, finishing with 257.5. The remaining girls teams finished in the following order: Aberdeen, 238; Havre de Grace, 225; North Harford, 218; Fallston, 186; Edgewood, 93; Joppatowne, 73; Baltimore City College, 5.
Havre de Grace took third place in the boys competition with 245, and the rest of the field finished as such: North Harford, 240; Harford Tech, 229; Patterson Mill, 206; Joppatowne, 176; Edgewood, 138; Aberdeen, 82; Baltimore City College, 52; Carver Vo Tech, 37; Frederick Douglass, 24.
The combined team scores of from fourth place to 12th place were as follows: Patterson Mill, 463.5; North Harford, 458; Fallston, 436; Aberdeen, 320; Joppatowne, 249; Edgewood, 231; Baltimore City College, 57; Carver Vo Tech, 37; Frederick Douglass, 24.
State rematches likely
For the Mustangs girls, Monday's victory put them in a familiar position. As with the previous two years, the Mustangs will head into the 1A/2A/3A state title meet, which will be held on Saturday at the University of Maryland, College Park, as reigning regional champs, and their main competition once again will be Poolesville.
In 2012, the CMW girls defeated the Montgomery County school to grab the state title, only to see Poolesville return the favor last year but outdistancing the Mustangs, who fell to second place.
"It will definitely be a good matchup again," King said. "I think the girls team really has a shot at winning. Poolesville has a lot of good, fast swimmers, so it will definitely be close. If we can do well in the relays, that will help a lot. The 100 breaststroke, the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle will all be races to watch at the finals. I think those will be really exciting."
The CMW boys finished second to Poolesville at the 2012 state championship meet.
The Mustangs captured 10 of the 16 individual events at Monday's regional meet and were kept from sweeping the relay races by a Joppatowne victory in the 200 freestyle.
CMW saw three of its swimmers race to a pair of individual titles each. Megan Cowan came through with victories in the girls 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Lauren O'Mara took first-place finishes in the girls 200 medley and 100 breaststroke. Colin Hildebeidel led the Mustangs boys' attack with title-winning races in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.
Julia O'Mara, twin sister of double winner Lauren, also posted a victory, taking the top spot in the girls 50 freestyle.
Ryan Pellegrino won the 100 butterfly for CMW, which was the Mustangs' final individual boys victory of the day.
Anne Capozzoli beat the field in the girls 100 butterfly, and Mustang teammate Lauren Rutherford top all comers in the girls 100 freestyle.
Harford Tech's Justin Carestia emerged from the meet with a pair of titles, posting first-place showings in the boys 200 medley and 100 breaststroke.
Havre de Grace's Paul Butz brought home two regional crowns with victories in the boys 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.
North Harford's Hilary Young earned the Hawks their lone victory of the afternoon, taking first in the girls 100 backstroke.
The only non-Harford County swimmer to post a victory at Monday's competition was City College's Adam Todd, who won the boys 100 backstroke.
CMW kicked off the meet with a victories in both 200 medley relays. The Mustangs team of Pellegrino, Bernie Chang, Matthew Treusdell and Nate Ehrhardt won the boys race, while the team of Cowan, Gabby Jordan, Julia O'Mara and Erika Abshire took the girls race.
CMW's Jordan, Rutherford, Julia O'Mara and Lauren O'Mara teamed up to take a victory in the girls 200 freestyle relay.
CMW's Chang, Hildebeidel, Pellegrino and Griffith Scarborough swam to a top finish in the boys 400 freestyle relay, while Rutherford, Cowan, Lauren O'Mara and Erika Slotnick took first in the girls 400 freestyle relay.
Spoiling the CMW sweep in the relays was Joppatowne's team of Josh Spliedt, Austin Koscan, Dale Marx and Tyler DiBastiani that took first in the boys 200 freestyle.
Barring any more snow days between Monday and the state championships on Saturday, King said her team will focus on the little things in practice.
"We're just going to try and fine tune," King said. "We're going to be able to practice at a pool that has starting blocks for a couple of days before the state meet, and that will help. What we want to work on is starts, turns and getting the relay teams members in sync. The state [championship meet] should be a good one. I'm looking forward to it.
Saturday's 1A/2A/3A state championship meet will start at 4 p.m. at UMCP's Eppley Recreation Center.
Other top three finishes from Monday's regional meeting included:
North Harford's Robby Beichler took second place, while Ehrhardt took third for CMW in the boys 200 freestyle.
In the girls 200 freestyle, Slotnick grabbed second place, and Fallston's Emily Hoyt took the third spot.
Treusdell finished second in the boys 200 medley for the Mustangs, and Edgewood's Sam Verk finished third.
The girls 200 medley saw Aberdeen's Lauren Drumm race to a second-place showing, while CMW's Maggie Gallagher earned third place.
Dale Marx of Joppatowne took second place in the boys 50 freestyle, and Fallston's James Appel finished third.
Jordan finished second for CMW in the girls 50 freestyle, and Aberdeen's Valeriia Laryoshyna finished third.
Harford Tech's Tim Seitzinger grabbed second in the boys 100 butterfly; finishing third was Fallston's Andrew Lagan.
Finishing second in the girls 100 butterfly was Harford Tech's Taylor Casalena; taking third was CMW's Jamie Hruz.
Jordan Johnson from Patterson Mill swam to second place in the boys 100 freestyle; Marx grabbed third place for Joppatowne.
Patterson Mill's Annie Tompkins and Jordan finished second and third ,respectively, in the girls 100 freestyle.
Verk took first in the boys 500 freestyle, and Beichler finished third.
Young earned North Harford a second-place finish in the girls 500 freestyle, while Aberdeen's Drumm raced to a third-place showing.
Pellegrino took second in the boys 100 backstroke, the only event not won by a Harford County swimmer, and Chang finished third for CMW.
Rutherford and Abshire completed a second-and-third-place sweep for CMW in the girls 100 backstroke.
Johnson nabbed third place in the 100 breaststroke, and Harford Tech's Gracen Clem posted a third-place finish.
Julia O'Mara finished second behind her sister in the girls 100 breaststroke, while Laryoshyna came in third.