The girls set three records and the boys contributed three double-winners as Bel Air breezed to its fourth consecutive team title in the Harford County swimming championships at Magnolia Middle School last week.
The Bobcats totaled 531 points, trailed by Fallston, 403; C. Milton Wright, 372; and John Carroll, 317 in the 10-school field.
Katy Novotny's two record-setting races, a double by Paige McCarthy and a win in the 100 breaststroke and a leg on a winning relay by senior Brad Snyder helped Fallston to its highest finish in school history. The two girls are 14-year-old freshmen.
Havre de Grace, which showed steady improvement through the weather-interrupted season, also had its best finish and earned its first medals. The Warriors more than doubled their team score of a year ago, going from 121 to 246 (ninth to sixth place), and freshman Tom Davies collected two seconds.
Novotny lowered her own marks in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, as did Bel Air's Kathy Rising in the 100 breaststroke. The other two records were by the Bel Air team of Rising, Jamee Eben, Jenn Murach and Anna DeMott in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
Erik Jankowiak, Jeff DeHart and Dan Machovec each won two individual races and swam on two winning relays to help increase the 100-point margin the girls turned over to them.
"Each title is a new experience," Bel Air coach Jeff DeMott said. "This time, we got special leadership from our seniors [DeMott, Eben, Murach, Jankowiak, Mike Shaffer and Jeff Uttenreither]. They worked hard and got the others fired up. The rest of the team benefited by what they did in the water, too, because they were able to back up what they had been talking about."
This marked the first time the girls and boys swam on separate nights, and after experiencing some problems and making changes after the girls program, the boys events went much smoother.
Whereas the girls swam three or four events, then got a break for medal ceremonies, the boys medals were awarded after each event, and, coupled with breaks, it stretched the program enough to give the multi-event swimmers recovery time.
Eben, a senior, had developed an upper respiratory infection earlier in the week, and said she felt weak on her opening relay leg. With about two minutes in between, she tried to come right back in the 200 freestyle, but couldn't stop coughing and dropped out in mid-race.
Thirty minutes later, she had recovered to the point where she won the 100 butterfly, beating runner-up Michelle Marsillo, an Edgewood sophomore by nearly a full second.
Edgewood senior Melissa Marzicola also had problems, as she placed sixth in the 100 butterfly and had about two minutes before she went back on the block for the 500 freestyle. She finished fifth, opening a body length on Irene Cronk with two laps to go and holding off the Fallston challenger, but she was spent.
The best girls race was the 100 free, where Novotny was fresh, going against four (of the other five) entries who were doubling back from the 50 freestyle two races earlier. Cindy Cattell, an Aberdeen freshman, was seeded fifth in the 50 and closed fast to get second, and in the 100 back, she was fourth at the 50 and charged home to get second.
The 100 time of 52.66, one of three county records owned by Novotny, qualified her for USSwimming's short-course Junior Nationals next month.
Among the boys, Jankowiak, saying he felt the pressure as top seed in the 50 and 100 freestyle races, pulled both out at the wall.
"I got a good swim in the [opening medley] relay and that gave me a boost," he said of posting his fastest times in winning the two events.
DeHart, a junior, said, "Winning the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke capped a season where I surpassed all my goals." His 59.89 was his best 100 backstroke time.
Of Machovec, a sophomore, who won the 200 and 500 freestyles, DeMott said, "Although Erik remained the real senior leader, when Jeff Warwick left the team in midseason, Dan took on extra responsibilities himself. He wasn't asked to, he simply did it.
"It was that sort of teamwork, as well as the individual efforts, that made this a championship team."