The Harford County swim season has hit 2016 and the top individual and relay times to this point reveal that it might have a similar ending to the 2015 season. State power C. Milton Wright leads the field with multiple relay and individual victories, with the rest of the county looking up at it.
The Mustangs, carrying a win streak of 95 meets that traces back to 2008, own the top time in seven of nine relays and have 15 top times individual events this season. Head Coach Debbie King said this team, with a lot of new faces, will continue to build on the successes of previous years.
"The pressure continues each year to maintain our winning streak," she said. "After graduating half of the girls' team … and graduating one-third of the boys' team last year, this year has been a rebuilding year. We hope we can keep our winning streak alive, and our team has been working hard at practice to swim their personal best times."
King said, for the first time in seven years, the boys' team boasts the better depth, which bodes well for relay times.
The Mustang boys own the top time in all three relay categories, including the 200 medley relay and 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Ryan Baldino, who competed on all three relay teams, has led the pack along with a handful of others for C. Milton Wright in the individual events. Baldino has the top time in three individual events this season: 200 free, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley.
Baldino's 200 free time of 1:52.03 is over nine seconds better than teammate Tyler Kosar for first place. He was the only swimmer in the county to break 1:00 in the 100 fly (56.68) and finished over three seconds faster than the competition in the 200 IM (2:06.78).
"We have a couple of outstanding coaches that really push me in practice," Baldino said. "I've been dropping a lot of time over the years and especially this year. … We have a lot of swimmers that can win each of the events."
Kosar, who finished just second behind Baldino in all three races, added the top time in the 50 and 100 breaststroke. He finished the 50 breast in 32.18 and the 100 breast in 1:06.43, both ahead of Bel Air's Xavier Kane.
John Schafer has the other top time from the C. Milton Wright boys' team, outswimming his teammate Wayne Walker in the 500 free.
On the girls' side, it's much the same. The girls' team owns two of the top 3 relay times and nine of the top times in 11 individual events.
Much of that success comes from Megan Cowan, who has three individual top times and swam on two top-timed relay teams. She's back this year after not swimming with C. Milton Wright last season.
Cowan's 100 free time of 56.14 beat her teammate Molly Jordan by over a second, while the 200 free difference was smaller with Cowan (2:03.63) ahead of Jordan (2:03.75) for the top time. In the 100 fly, it was Cowan (1:00.18) taking first over Hillary Young (1:02.67) of North Harford. She also swam with the top 200 medley and 400 free relay teams.
Jordan, however, got the best of Cowan in 500 free by over four seconds. She also beat out Young for the top time (1:14.86) in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM (1:16.48).
Lauren Rutherford also earned the top time in three individual events. She posted a 26.28 time in the 50 free, a 30.70 time in the 50 back and a 1:08.00 split in the 100 back.
King said the additions of Cowan, Rutherford and Jordan have improved her team, which isn't as deep as she's seen.
"They came back to the team this year to help the success of the team," she said. "But, it will be a challenge to win the Harford County championship meet this year as we don't have as much depth on the girls' side as we did in the past."
Outside of C. Milton Wright's success, a few individual swimmers and relay teams stood out among the rest. Most notably, Harford Tech's Tucker Young.
Young owns the top time in four individual events, including the 50 and 100 free, as well as the 50 and 100 back. The sophomore finished quicker than three different C. Milton Wright swimmers in those events.
His 100 back time of 58.59 was the only in the county to fall below 1:00.
"He is definitely growing in confidence," Harford Tech Head Coach Aubrey McDonough said. "Tucker is very driven and very goal oriented when it comes to swimming. I expect Tucker to place extremely well in counties, regionals, and states."
Patterson Mill's Luke Holloway, in the 50 butterfly, was the only other boys' swimmer to post an individual top time (27.24).
Young from North Harford was the only girls' swimmer not from C. Milton Wright to own an individual top time. She won the 50 breaststroke (35.23) and the 50 butterfly (28.94).
Bel Air has the top time in the girls' 200 free relay, beating out the Mustangs. The team of Madison Clark, Sydney Mika, Madelynn Dougherty and Rebecca Entner finished in 1:50.61. Mika and Entner have multiple top 5 individual times, helping a team that lost to C. Milton Wright by just four points.