Handley swim team sweeps Wood in dual
Posted: December 8, 2012
WINCHESTER — In winning 14 of 22 events and sweeping the boys’ and girls’ competitions with James Wood, it’s fair to say that Handley swam pretty well in Friday’s first Northwestern Distict dual meet at the War Memorial Building.
Of course, that probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise — compared to the rest of their early-season schedule, Friday was a light day.
James Wood had several outstanding performances — junior Brian Baker, the former Sherando star who last swam in high school two years ago, won two events (one against Handley star Taylor Watts), as did Colonels sophomore Conor Babington, who had the only state time of the meet. But in the end it was Handley winning 111-59 on the boys’ side and 94-76 in the girls’ meet.
“I think we’ve got a lot of potential here,” Handley coach Tag Grove said. “I don’t know if we can be as good as the 2009 team that placed fifth in the state on the boys’ side. They’re maybe not as talented, but they’re a lot deeper.
“Once these guys prove themselves, hopefully they’ll be there [as state qualifiers] at the end. We’ve got a ways to go, but the ability is in there. Really, they work very hard.”
Grove said one example of that was having Handley’s swimmers travel up to Mercersburg, Pa., for an invitational meet last Saturday after competing in the City-County Relays in Winchester in the morning, and a second example of that will be today. Handley’s traveling to Virginia Tech for another meet.
“These kids were beat, but they stood up on the blocks and handled themselves very well,” said Grove of last Saturday.
That high level of performance continued Friday. The Judges received individual wins from the senior Watts in the 100-yard backstroke (1 minute, 8.47 seconds), one from his freshman brother Carter in the 100 free (59.07), Ethan Franck in the 200 free (2:26.75) and Alex Day in the 400 free (5:06.37). Handley also took the 200 free relay in 1:49.40 and the 400 free relay in 4:04.06.
The Handley girls also had several strong performances, with junior Liz Grove (the 200 IM in 2:37.78 and the 100 backstroke in 1:12.28) and Aleksa Putnam (the 200 free in 2:33.18 and the 100 free in 1:10.60) each winning two individual events. Also victorious for the Judges were Allegra Zamore (50 free in 32.40), Olivia Truban (the 100 butterfly in 1:27.13), Madison Capitano (the 100 breaststroke in 1:37.87) and the 400 free relay (4:40.47).
Liz Grove said she’s capable of swimming faster than she did Friday, but she also said she’s swimming at a much higher level than at this point last year.
“I’ll be OK this season,” Grove said. “I’ve just got to keep working hard and try to keep everybody motivated.
“I think the team is starting off pretty strong, but I think there’s room for improvement, and we’ll definitely see that throughout this season.”
Apparently, Truban can improve in the butterfly. She never swam the event before Friday, but she won by more than a second.
“She was talking to me two minutes before the race, saying, ‘I don’t know how to do it, I don’t know how to breathe,’” Tag Grove said. “She gets in there and had a steady pace the whole way.”
For James Wood, Baker said he’s also capable of swimming faster, but he took the 200 IM in 2:22.69 — beating Taylor Watts by more than four seconds — and took the 100 breaststroke in 1:15.27 to win by 12 seconds.
In Baker’s 200 IM, he was tied with Watts halfway through the race, but then he opened up a three-meter lead on Watts in the breaststroke before extending his lead even farther in the freestyle against a swimmer that was the third-best in the area in the 50 free last year.
Baker didn’t swim for Sherando last year because the Warriors practices conflicted with his Valley Swim Team Phoenix practices, but after transferring to James Wood conflicting schedules are no longer an issue.
“I really enjoy high school swimming, so I’m glad I’m back,” Baker said. “It’s been pretty good at James Wood.”
Babington was also impressive, taking the 50 free in a state time of 25.81 and the 100 butterfly in 1:06.15.
Other Colonel winners were the boys’ 200 medley relay (2:11.99), the girls’ 200 medley relay (2:28.50), Laura Moss (400 free in 5:39.66), and the girls’ 200 free relay (2:07.10).
James Wood coach Kristy Hartbauer said it was a promising meet, particularly for her inexperienced swimmers.
“We have a lot of new swimmers, and I was really encouraged by a lot of their breakthrough swims,” she said. “Some didn’t even know they could swim a 100 freestyle, and they went out there and swam some amazing times and stayed with some of our veteran swimmers.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1