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They certainly carried themselves as a powerhouse.
Regrettably, though, they fell a wee bit short of the brass ring.
At the State AA swimming and diving championships, Jefferson Forest came away with a third-place finish on the boys side and a fifth place for the girls.
While the team had its sights set on a state title for the lads, it can take solace in some of the following:
-JF earned all of its points in the water. That is, the team has no divers. Hidden Valley, on the other hand, scored points in diving, a major factor in the final scores.
-The combined boys (216 points) and girls (148) scores summed up to second in the state. The overall best score was earned by Hidden Valley, which saw its boys and girls both finish in second place.
-Three individual titles were earned: two by Susanna White (50 free, 100 breast) and one by Caleb Williams (200 free).
-The team picked up a first in relay competition. That came in the 400 free relay, as Williams, Chad Nowakowski, Alex Soderman and Carter Watson combined for the victory.
-Swimmers wearing black and red set a fistful of records. White posted a meet record in the 50 free (23.14 seconds). Then she went out and set a meet and a pool mark in the 100 breast (1:02.83).
That 400 free contingent set a new mark for the Christiansburg Aquatics Center, at 3:10.75.
Oh, yeah. That aquatics center is home to a little program by the name of Virginia Tech.
This was a tough competition, as witnessed in the team scores.
Top five boys teams
1. Brentsville 236
2. Hidden Valley 217
3. Jefferson Forest 216
4. Jamestown 158
5. Orange County 124
The Cavs were paced by Williams and Watson.
Watson, who is headed to ODU next year, took a fourth in both the 50 and 100 frees.
Williams, who was edged out of second in the 500 free by 0.11 seconds (in a 4:38.44 performance) nailed the win in the 200 free. His time of 1:42.75 gave him more than half a second of breathing space.
Soderman, the Swedish Fish, went on to nab a third place in the 100 breast.
The JF medley relay team of Nowakowski, Soderman, Hunter Morris and Watson opened the meet with a second place finish.
Relays were kind to JF. The 200 free relay of Williams, Morris, Blake Nowakowski and Stuart Blakely nabbed fifth place.
Top five girls scores
1. Western Albemarle 217
2. Hidden Valley 211
3. Briar Woods 173
4. Lafayette 159
5. Jefferson Forest 148
Granted, the JF boys team has been the big story this year, and with good reason.
Yet, that girls team performance shouldn’t be overlooked. Fifth place in the state is quite an achievement, particularly since the Lady Cavs were topped in the Seminole District, by E.C. Glass.
Surely, White was the dominant performer on the ladies side of the house.
The Arkansas-bound senior set a laser-like focus on her targets.
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Coach Templeton, of White’s record-setting performances. “She always has that mindset–an aura of confidence in her athleticism.”
That mindset showed in a pre-race chat. “I hope I can go out with a bang,” said White. “Maybe break a record.”
She got double her wish, as she nailed a 23.14 second dash in the 50 free and a 1:02.83 in the breast.
That later mark bested the state AA mark as well as the pool record, set by Virginia Tech’s Keri Sink.
Also of note was JF’s Ainsley Reed. While she was disqualified despite getting a national qualifying time in the 100 free, she bounced back to take second in the 500 free.
White and Reed ganged up with Callie White (Susanna’s little sis) and Sarah Fredericksen, to take fourth place in the 200 freestyle relay.
Some 40 schools didn’t place in the AA competition, including the Liberty and Staunton River girls and the Liberty boys.
The Staunton River lads, though, picked up 24 points, good for 24th place.
Jordan Dehli led the way for River, nailing a fifth place in the 50 free, just behind JF’s Watson. Dehli had a time of 22.36 seconds to Watson’s 22.02
Jordan’s little bro, Zach, took tenth in that race.
“It was a good meet for all our swimmers,” noted Jefferson Forest’s Coach Templeton. “I couldn’t ask for better, and I’m appreciative of what we did. Particularly our girls.”