As seen in the LoCoMagazine!
By Owen Gotimer
(April 8, 2015) – Even with the snow bludgeoning the Mid-Atlantic, Loudoun swimmers hit the pool in aims of reinforcing the county’s swimming success.
Across three state meets, LoCo swimmers won six state championships including five individual golds.
Backed by All-LoCo girls swimmer of the year junior Caroline Lee, Heritage High School placed third at the VHSL 4A state meet on Feb. 20 at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
Lee turned in second place finishes in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke events as well as swimming a leg of the Pride’s state championship 200-yard medley relay team along with freshman Yaiza Kinney and sophomores Emilia Missing and Madison McKay. Kinney added a second place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
But Heritage was not the only successful Loudoun girls team at the competition as the Woodgrove High School Wolverines placed fourth at the VHSL 4A state meet.
Led by superstar quartet – junior Meaghan Flynn, senior Kristen Garner, junior Kacey Hauck and freshman Keely Hemminger – the Wolverines placed second in both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Hemminger claimed a state championship in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle making her the only two-event state swimming champion out of Loudoun County during the 2014-2015 season.
Hauck made her way into the state’s top-5 in two events, finishing third in the 100-yard breaststroke and fourth in the 200-yard freestyle before earning the viewer’s choice for the LoCoSports Athlete of the Winter in a LoCoPoll which received over 11,000 votes!
On the boys side of the VHSL 4A state meet, Dominion High School brothers senior JP and sophomore Matthew Popovich helped the Titans to Loudoun’s top team finish in sixth place.
The Popovich brothers, along with senior Eric Wong and junior Nelson Chen, placed third in the 200-yard medley relay. JP won the 200-yard individual medley before finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle.
Other individual top-5 finishes from the VHSL 4A state meet:
- Heritage sophomore Michael Burris in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke
- Heritage junior Phillip Crouch in the 100-yard breaststroke
- Loudoun County freshman Collin Hughes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle
- Dominion sophomore Matthew Popovich in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly
- Loudoun County sophomore Jake Yeager in the 100-yard backstroke
In class 5A, the Potomac Falls High Schools boys team made some noise finishing third in the state with runner-up finishes in both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays by freshman Luay Hilmi and seniors Vincent Marrocco, William Lin and Justin Touve.
Lin – who was named the All-LoCo boys swimmer of the year – won a state championship in the 500-yard freestyle and state silver in the 200-yard freestyle. Marrocco placed second in the dive-and-dash 50-yard freestyle.
Tuscarora High School junior Simon Shi finished runner up in the 200-yard individual medley and third in the 100-yard butterfly.
On the girls side, Stone Bridge High School senior Andi Mack had more luck than Lin in the 200-yard freestyle where she earned the state title. The University of North Carolina commit also turned in a third place finish in the 100-yard butterfly.
In the second dive-and-dash 50-yard freestyle of the VHSL 5A state meet, Tuscarora senior Pim Silpacharn earned a bronze medal. Silpacharn also finished fifth in the 100-yard freestyle.
Other individual top-5 finishes from the VHSL 4A state meet:
- Briar Woods sophomore Jackson Lucas in the 500-yard freestyle
- Stone Bridge freshman Steven Thalblum in the 200-yard individual medley
- Potomac Falls senior Justin Touve in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle
One Loudoun team stood out at the VHSL 3A state meet, as the John Champe High School Knights earned top-five finishes in both girls and boys swimming.
The Knights boys finished third in the 200-yard medley relay thanks to freshman Kyle Barker, junior Joaquin Gabriel and junior Michael and senior Caleb Kaslik.
The Lady Knights earned a fourth place team finish and two fourth place individual finishes by junior Maddie Oliver in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard freestyle.
Rock Ridge High School got its name on the state swimming map as freshman Gabby Zhang earned two third place finishes: one in the 200-yard individual medley, the other in the 100-yard butterfly.
Other individual top-5 finishes from the VHSL 4A state meet:
- John Champe junior Michael Kaslik in the 200-yard freestyle
- John Champe senior Caleb Kaslik in the 100-yard breaststroke
- Loudoun Valley senior Sami Morency in the 200-yard individual medley
- John Champe junior Joaquin Gabriel in the 100-yard breaststroke
- John Champe freshman Maren Oliver in the 100-yard breaststroke
State champions come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s safe to say the biggest state champion out of Loudoun County this winter was Dominion High School wrestler Adeeb Atariwa. The junior wrestled at the 285-pound weight class and pinned Conference 21 foe Ben Avery in the VHSL 4A state championship on Feb. 21 in Salem.
While Atariwa claimed the individual title, Woodgrove High School put on the best performance out of any VHSL 4A school from Loudoun County at the state tournament.
The Wolverines had four guys place in the top-4 at the state meet including junior Kyle Branch at 182 pounds, senior Jake David at 170 pounds, senior Joe LaRock at 152 pounds and senior Dylan Shockey at 126 pounds.
Loudoun County High School senior Kyle Schlue was the only other LoCo wrestler to put in a top-4 finish at the VHSL 4A state wrestling championships, finishing in fourth at 182 pounds.
The Wolverines team score at the state meet was only bested by one Loudoun school: Broad Run High School at the VHSL 5A state meet.
The Spartans placed third as a team and brought home the county’s second of two state wrestling champions in the form of sophomore, 160-pounder Michael Battista.
Battista did not have an easy road to the top of the state podium as he had to go through Potomac Falls High School senior Garrett Griffith in the Conference 14, VHSL 5A North region and VHSL 5A state finals to get there.
Fellow Spartans also had a big day on the mat at the VHSL 5A state meet including senior Timmy Brown – who placed second at 113 pounds; senior Ewen Riordan – who placed second at 220 pounds; junior Brandon Steel – who placed third at 182 pounds; and sophomore Nick Taylor – who placed fourth at 120 pounds.
Other individual top-4 finishes from the VHSL 5A state tournament:
- Stone Bridge senior McKinnon Bowen at 120 pounds
- Briar Woods senior Bryan Capozzoli at 220 pounds
- Freedom junior Enes Karaaslan at 285 pounds
- Tuscarora senior Alec Klevenhagen at 132 pounds
- Tuscarora senior Alex McCord at 126 pounds
- Briar Woods freshman Ron Miller at 120 pounds
- Freedom junior Garret Moody at 170 pounds
- Freedom senior Wes Reeves at 138 pounds
- Briar Woods senior Mick Zahora at 132 pounds
John Champe junior Devyn Kreb posted the best finish of any VHSL 3A wrestler in Loudoun County when he earned the Knights a bronze medal at 145 pounds.
For the first time in the program’s 15 season history, the Stone Bridge High School Bulldogs won a boys basketball conference title. Led by senior Jason Jolly, junior Nick Barnes and first-year head coach Corey Stitzel, the Bulldogs went on a 23 game win streak — after opening the season with back-to-back losses — to win the Conference 14 regular season and tournament crowns before falling to Potomac High School in a VHSL 5A North region semifinal.
During the win streak, which spanned 83 days, Stone Bridge outscored its opponents 69-50. In his fourth season as a varsity starter, Jolly scored his 1,000th career point in a game against McLean High School on Dec. 16 in Ashburn.
Jolly was not the only player to solidify his place in Loudoun County history this winter as, in a game against Freedom High School on Jan. 10 in front of a home crowd in Sterling, Potomac Falls High School senior Wanya Allen scored his 1,493 career point making him the all-time leading scorer in Panther history. Allen finished his career with 1,734 points.
Class 5A schools certainly made for an interesting Conference 14 season, but a pair of schools out of Loudoun in the VHSL 4A made late runs in the season in an effort to solidify a berth into the VHSL 4A North region playoff.
After starting the season 0-4, the Loudoun County High School Raiders caught momentum late in the season earning the No. 4 seed in the Conference 21 tournament knocking off No. 5 Dominion High School in the first round. On Feb. 19, the Raiders — including all-conference seniors Quad Borup and Ethan Walker — upset No. 1 Millbrook High School who had dominated most of the regular season before falling to No. 3 Woodgrove High School in the conference final ending the Raiders’ season.
With the conference championship win, the Wolverines — including all-conference seniors Jameson Copeland and Matt Gilson — earned a trip to the VHSL 4A North region playoffs where they dominated Fluvanna High School, 91-60, in a region quarterfinal before a week-long snowstorm hiatus and eventual loss to George Washington High School on March 4 in a region semifinal ended their season.
A shortened Conference 28 tournament gave John Champe, Loudoun Valley and Rock Ridge High Schools automatic byes into the conference semifinals. On Feb. 19, the Knights knocked off the first-year Phoenix — who in their first season finished an impressive 12-11 — before defeating the Vikings in the back-and-forth conference title game the next night.
The Knights’ dynamic juniors Zach Burdick and Kuony Deng led John Champe into battle in the VHSL 3A East region playoffs defeating James Monroe High School in the region quarterfinal before falling to Hopewell High School in a highly-contested region semifinal in Aldie.
The Vikings’ youth — including sophomore Nick Ball and freshman Jalen Williams — did not fare any better in the region tournament falling to eventual state champion George Wythe High School, 87-61, on March 4 ending Loudoun Valley’s up-and-down season.
The young ladies at Loudoun County High School seemed to have put a major bull’s-eye on the back of current and future Lady Raiders in volleyball and girls basketball. Under the tutelage of former head coach Kevin Reed and now, current head coach Derek Fisher, the Lady Raiders basketball program is perennially one of the best in the state.
In the 2014-2015 season, Loudoun County cruised past Millbrook High School, 63-48, in the Conference 21 tournament championship before marching its way to the VHSL 4A North region final and a berth into the state tournament for the fifth straight season.
Early in the season, the Lady Raiders escaped with a three-point win over crosstown rival Tuscarora High School who earned a trip to the VHSL 5A state playoff for the first time in school history. On Dec. 29 in a win over Thomas Jefferson High School, Lady Huskies senior Alexis Bailey became the first basketball player in school history to eclipse the 1,000 career point scoring mark.
Just over a week earlier, Broad Run High School junior Mariah Leonard scored her 1,000 career point becoming the fastest Lady Spartan in school history to reach the milestone. Leonard — who was named the All-LoCo girls basketball player of the year — hopes to become the all-time leading scorer in Broad Run history during her senior campaign next season.
At the VHSL 3A level, John Champe High School and Loudoun Valley High School competed for the top spot all season, as the Lady Knights won the Conference 28 regular season title before the Lady Vikings knocked them off in the playoffs to earn the Conference 28 tournament title.
One Loudoun school continues to be the team to beat in gymnastics, and there is no sign of slowing down for the Freedom High School Eagles.
Freshman Sydney Wrighte and junior Anna Broussard dominated the Loudoun circuit before finishing first and third individually at both the Conference 14 and VHSL 5A North group meets as the Eagles claimed back-to-back conference and group team titles.
Other individual top-4 all-around finishes at postseason meets:
- Loudoun Valley freshman McKenna Magoffin in Conference 28
- Potomac Falls freshman Morgan Marrocco in Conference 14
- Loudoun County senior Victoria Miner in Conference 21
- John Champe junior Hallie Nichols in Conference 28
- Tuscarora sophomore Claire Pettit in Conference 14 and the VHSL 5A North group
- Heritage freshman Kaley Reich in Conference 21
- Woodgrove sophomore Sarah Snare in Conference 21
- Loudoun Valley junior Helen Sternberg in Conference 28
- John Champe sophomore Sydney Suter in Conference 28
- Heritage senior Courtney Walker in Conference 21
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently in his senior year at Syracuse University. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.