It is becoming a rite of winter for the C. Milton Wright girls swim team.
The Mustangs captured their fourth straight Harford County championship last night at Magnolia Middle School in Joppa in dominating fashion.
Buoyed by first-place finishes in nine of 11 events, C. Milton Wright racked up 388 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Fallston (218 points) and third-place North Harford (130).
C. Milton Wright will go for its fourth straight overall team title when the boys finals are held today. The overall champion is determined by totaling the boys and girls scores from each team.
Fallston is favored to win the boys title.
"We had a few great, great swims tonight," said Mustangs coach Larry Ashman, whose team went undefeated throughout the season. "[The 170-point lead] makes me a little more comfortable. We are definitely going to need those points."
The Mustangs relied on an effective mix of veterans and newcomers. Senior Maureen McLaughlin won the 100-yard freestyle (56.38 seconds), the 100 backstroke (1 minute, 2.59 seconds) and was on both the first-place 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.
"I really wanted to keep my streak going," said McLaughlin, who has taken first in counties in 19 of 20 races in her Mustangs' career. "We know the boys are going to step up so we also had to."
C. Milton Wright senior Shannon Dunnigan won the 500 free-style (5:33.01), was third in the 200 freestyle and also helped the 400 freestyle relay team to victory, while classmate Erin Smith took first in the 50 freestyle (26.63) and in two relays.
Mustangs freshman Emily Tipton pulled away late to win the 200 individual medley (2:12.37), then, in somewhat of a surprise, beat Bel Air's Megan Rhoads to the wall to win the 100 breaststroke (1:11.71).
"I'm good friends with [Rhoads], but I knew I had to step up and do it for my team," said Tipton.
Another meet standout was Edgewood junior Elisha Peregino, who spearheaded the fourth-place Rams with victories in the 200 freestyle (1:57.01) and 100 butterfly (1:00.56).