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River Hill breaks through to win team title in return of Howard County Invitational Swim Meet

Swimmers compete in the backstroke during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12.
Swimmers compete in the backstroke during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. (photo courtesy of Lynn Lascola)

The timing and venue were different, but the annual Howard County Invitational Swim Meet made an exciting return on Saturday.

After being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s meet saw some adjustments for its 43rd installment. Instead of being held indoors in April like in previous years, this year’s competition — open to all Howard County public high school students — was held a couple months later and outdoors at Stevens Forest Pool.

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Somewhat fittingly, to go with the change of scenery, there was also a changing of the guard in the winner’s circle. River Hill scored 503 points to unseat five-time defending champion Mt. Hebron, which finished second with 239 points. Atholton rounded out the top three with 219 points.

Members of the River Hill team pose for a photo together during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. The Hawks won the combined team title.
Members of the River Hill team pose for a photo together during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. The Hawks won the combined team title. (photo courtesy of Lisa Shaw)

Overall there were 111 swimmers in attendance representing 11 of the county’s 12 public high schools. The meet was sponsored by the Columbia Clippers swim team and hosted by the Columbia Association.

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No relays were held this year.

Melissa Nwakalor, a sophomore at Atholton, was the top female finisher. River Hill juniors Joshua Hernandez and Simon Hu, meanwhile, tied for the most points among the male participants.

There were eight graduating seniors in attendance at the meet who have committed to continue swimming at a varsity level in college next year — Centennial’s Zack Cherry (University of Mary Washington), Mt. Hebron’s Lexi Cucchiaro (University of Rochester), Howard’s Maya Hunn (UMBC), Centennial’s Anna Kwon (University of Massachusetts - Amherst), Howard’s Jillian Lewis (Sweet Briar College), Howard’s Becca McArthur (RIT), Mt. Hebron’s Justin Reed (UMBC), and Oakland Mills’ Amanda Soustek (Frostburg State University).

Eight graduating seniors who have committed to varsity swimming in college post together at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. The swimmers are (From L to R) Amanda Soustek (Frostberg State Univ), Becca McArthur (RIT), Justin Reed (UMBC), Anna Kwon (Univ. of MA, Amherst), Lexi Cucchiaro (Univ. of Rochester), Jillian Lewis (Sweet Briar College), Zack Cherry (Univ. of Mary Washington) and Maya Hunn (UMBC).
Eight graduating seniors who have committed to varsity swimming in college post together at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. The swimmers are (From L to R) Amanda Soustek (Frostberg State Univ), Becca McArthur (RIT), Justin Reed (UMBC), Anna Kwon (Univ. of MA, Amherst), Lexi Cucchiaro (Univ. of Rochester), Jillian Lewis (Sweet Briar College), Zack Cherry (Univ. of Mary Washington) and Maya Hunn (UMBC). (photo courtesy of Lisa Shaw)

Combined Team Scores

1. River Hill, 503 points; 2. Mt. Hebron, 239; 3. Atholton, 219; 4. Howard, 172; 5. Long Reach, 110; 6. Wilde Lake, 103; T7. Hammond, 101; T7. Centennial, 101; 9. Marriotts Ridge, 95; 10. Oakland Mills, 48; 11. Reservoir, 10.

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Individual Winners

Men’s 200 IM: 1. Ben Spragg, RH, 2:01.53.

Women’s 200 IM: 1. Arielle Levine, WL, 2:31.13.

Men’s 50 Free: 1. Justin Reed, MH, 23.31.

Women’s 50 Free: 1. Melissa Nwakalor, A, 25.85.

Melissa Nwakalor, the top female finisher, swims the final heat of the 100-yard backstroke during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12.
Melissa Nwakalor, the top female finisher, swims the final heat of the 100-yard backstroke during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. (photo courtesy of Lynn Lascola)

Men’s 100 Butterfly: 1. Joshua Hernandez, RH, 57.24.

Women’s 100 Butterfly: 1. Gabrielle Freund, A, 1:04.03.

Men’s 50 Breaststroke: 1. Jack Wittholz, RH, 29.61.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke: 1. Naomi Chao, C, 36.69.

Men’s 100 Backstroke: 1. Stephen Britten, RH, 57.05.

Women’s 100 Backstroke: 1. Melissa Nwakalor, A, 1:07.13.

Joshua Hernandez leads the final heat of the 100-yard butterfly during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12.
Joshua Hernandez leads the final heat of the 100-yard butterfly during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. (photo courtesy of Lynn Lascola)

Men’s 50 Butterfly: 1. Joshua Hernandez, RH, 25.69.

Women’s 50 Butterfly: 1. Kendall Madison, LR, 27.22.

Men’s 100 Free: 1. Justin Reed, MH, 52.24.

Women’s 100 Free: 1. Melissa Nwakalor, A, 59.22.

Men’s 50 Backstroke: 1. Stephen Britten, RH, 26.41.

Women’s 50 Backstroke: 1. Kate Wittholz, RH, 32.19.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke: 1. Kevin Liu, RH, 1:03.41.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke: 1. Kendall Madison, LR, 1:11.57.

Simon Hu competes in the breaststroke leg of the 100-yard IM during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12.
Simon Hu competes in the breaststroke leg of the 100-yard IM during the Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at Stevens Forest Pool on June 12. (photo courtesy of Lynn Lascola)

Men’s 200 Free: 1. Simon Hu, RH, 1:51.67.

Women’s 200 Free: 1. Lexi Cucchiaro, MH, 2:09.28.

Men’s 100 IM: 1. Simon Hu, RH, 58.07.

Women’s 100 IM: 1. Kendall Madison, LR, 1:04.59.

Special thanks to Lynn Lascola for compiling and submitting the results and photos from this year’s meet.

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