By Contributor Brenten Gilbert
This is the 2nd post of the 4-part series from Brenten Gilbert, a contributor to Reach for the Wall, In case you missed it, here’s the link to Day 1: Speedo Sectionals Day 1
Speedo Sectionals are designed to be the gateway to National Championship meets. The qualifying times for these meets are typically more challenging than the LSC championships, but it is the first tier of the USA Swimming Championship Series (hence the single star in the logo).
Sectionals are typically organized by the USA Swimming Zones, but in efforts to keep entry numbers manageable, the Eastern Zone has broken up into Regions and Region 2 is hosted by Virginia Swimming at the Christiansburg Aquatics Center, home to the Virginia Tech programs.
With representative swimmers from over 50 clubs competing, this very well may be the launching pad to future successes for some of these swimmers.
Friday’s events include the 200 Free, 100 Breast, 100 Fly, and 400 IM. These events will be contested in a prelims and finals format, with an A, B, and C finals for each event. Top 24 swimmers in the morning come back in the evening.
Girls 200y Free
Potomac Valley had only seven swimmers in the top twenty-four based on seed times with Alyssa Martel of Occoquan and Lexi Sawwa from NCAP leading the way, seeded third and fifth. Both girls would find their way through to the A final, with Martel placing 2nd and Sawwa 8th. Heat two of prelims was perhaps the most notable, however, as Jamie Cornwell (OCCS) and Emily Buckley (NCAP) took aim at finals in what was a bonus event for both of them. Cornwell dropped nearly two and a half seconds to lock herself into a three-way tie for eleventh place at 1:55.55 while Buckley shaved off two seconds to finish just slightly behind that pace with a 1:55.58. Tickets to the B finals punched. NCAP’s Gwyneth Frick and AAC’s Lauren Fatouros would join them in the B finals after they both moved up from C final seed times and Anna Li from RMSC would represent the DMV in the C final.
- Elise Nardozzi – 1:51.51
- Alyssa Martel – 1:53.82
- Mary Gregory – 1:54.30
- Jessica Rothrock – 1:54.31
- Jade Castro – 1:54.62
- Kaitlin Connors – 1:54.73
- Maeve Kelley – 1:55.22
- Lexi Sawwa – 1:55.24
The C final saw Anna Li improve her time enough to claim twenty-first place with a time of 1:56.27. The heat was won with a 1:53.38 from Molly Beckwith of the Virginia Gators.
Jamie Cornwell continued to move up through the ranks, posting a 1:52.36 to claim the B finals in what would become the third fastest time of the evening. But, since she was in the B finals, ninth place it is. Emily Buckley finished sixteenth overall, twenty spots ahead of her initial seeding.
Elise Nardozzi and Alyssa Martel went head to head in the A finals with Nardozzi ultimately pulling ahead for the win in 1:50.71. Martel’s 1:51.39 was good enough to maintain her 2nd place seeding from prelims, while Jessica Rothrock dropped under 1:53 to move up to third. Lexi Sawwa touched in sixth place.
- Elise Nardozzi – 1:50.71
- Alyssa Martel – 1:51.39
- Jessica Rothrock – 1:52.46
Boys 200y Free
Potomac Valley Boys accounted for nearly half of the top twenty-four based on seeds. Winner of the mile on Thursday night, Ben Huffman came in with the top seed and NCAP’s Jackson Tishler sat seventh on the psych sheet. Unfortunately, neither of them returned for the A final as they both fell to ninth and tenth place to join Peter Gilbert and Anderson Church (Machine) in the B final.
Suffering a similar fate, NCAP’s Alex Crown and Sea Devil Miles Haraldsson dropped down into the C final despite coming into the event with B seeds. The A final was not void of PV swimmers, however as heat five in the prelims featured an impressive swim of 1:43-low from Occoquan’s John Verosko that was enough to catapult him from 50th seed to seventh. Joshua Wolf of TANK found his way into the C final, swimming a 1:44.60 out of the seventh heat.
The eighth heat produced three more finalists as Evan Ingraham (NCAP) claimed a spot in the C final with a 1:44.45, while Malcolm McKenzie (AAC) and Owen Hoban (OCCS) shed enough time to jump into the A finals.
- Dominic Cortopassi – 1:41.49
- Teddy Blake – 1:41.68
- Owen Hoban – 1:41.72
- Malcolm McKenzie – 1:42.26
- Benjamin Schattenberg – 1:42.74
- Levi Hansen – 1:43.13
- John Verosko – 1:43.14
- Daniel Simoes – 1:43.17
Niccolo Gurri won the C final with a 1:43.51. Alex Crown from NCAP placed nineteenth, followed by Haradsson at twentieth. Joshua Wolf and Evan Ingraham rounded out the C final finishing 22nd and 24th overall.
After missing the A final, Ben Huffman unleashed a sizzling 1:39.15 to win the B final as the first swimmer under 1:40 on the day. Though his time would go on to be the fastest of the night, he would have to settle for ninth place. Anderson Church and Peter Gilbert threw down a pair of 1:43s to land 10th and 12th place overall, while Jackson Tishler’s 1:44 would earn him 15th.
Daniel Simoes, who came into the A final seeded eighth, joined Huffman under 1:40 to claim the title and win the A final, followed by Teddy Blake. Owen Hoban and Malcolm McKenzie took third and fourth, each swimming 1:41s and John Verosko held his seventh place seed. Notably, the top seed of the night, Dominic Cortopassi, saw his swim of 1:41-low erased by a called false start.
- Daniel Simoes – 1:39.94
- Teddy Blake – 1:40.71
- Owen Hoban – 1:41.59
Girls 100y Breaststroke
Joyce Wu from RMSC came into this event with the top seed of 1:03.05, joined by Occoquan swimmers Sophia Heilen and Emma Hannam as A seed entries. The trio would all return for A finals. Machine’s Angela Testani was the lone DMV swimmer with a B seed time, but she would not return for finals, replaced by Occoquan’s Emily Haugen and Rockville-Montgomery’s Anna Li, both of whom moved up from C seeds.
Joining them in the B final was NCAP’s Victoria Santino, who swam a 1:05 in the fifth heat to claim ninth place. Brooke Bailey (AAC) would qualify for the C final after her fourth heat swim cracked 1:07, but she would later scratch finals.
- Sophia Heilen – 1:03.73
- Joyce Wu – 1:04.30
- Sophia Routzahn – 1:04.76
- Emma Hannam – 1:04.82
- Camryn Schwartz – 1:04.94
- Alexis Schrecongost – 1:05.52
- Kendell Madison – 1:05.80
- Madison Watschke – 1:05.95
Chloe Check won the C final with a time of 1:07.02 and with Bailey scratching, no area swimmers contested the heat. The B final was led by Naomi Furman who stopped the clock at 1:05.10. She was followed by Victoria Santio, Emily Haugen and Anna Li, who all posted 1:05s to take 10th, 11th, and 12th.
Occoquan’s Sophia Heilen dropped a little more from her prelims time to secure the A final victory with a 1:03.55. Teammate Emma Hannam claimed fourth place behind Sophia Routzahn and Camryn Schwartz. Joyce Wu turned in a 1:04.95 to finish fifth overall.
- Sophia Heilen – 1:03.55
- Sophia Routzahn – 1:03.84
- Camryn Schwartz – 1:04.33
Boys 100y Breaststroke
Five PVS swimmers came in with A seed times here. AAC’s Collin McKenzie and Michael Zhang held that seeding, but Dawson Truong and Vincent Nguyen dropped down into the B final. Replacing them in the A final were Matvei Namakonov and Christopher Stankiewicz, though, so after scratches and shifting, the DMV still placed four in the top eight for finals. Michael Venit and Andrew Hendrickson earned spots in the B final as well and Brayden Wence moved up from the 25th seed to 20th place, securing a finals swim.
- Collin McKenzie – 55.73
- Matvei Namakonov – 55.79
- Haithan Xu – 56.01
- Michael Zhang – 56.35
- John Masiello – 56.55
- Zachary Erb – 56.80
- (TIE) Shawn Erdley / Christopher Stankiewicz – 56.97
Joseph Gardner won the C final with a time of 57.37. NCAP’s Brayden Wence finished in a tie for 21st place at 59.90. The B final went to Occoquan’s Dawson Truong, who posted a time of 56.47. NCAP’s Nguyen and Hendrickson both posted 58s to finish 13th and 15th, respectively.
The A final was dominated by Arlington Aquatics as the trio of Collin McKenzie, Michael Zhang, and Matvei Namakonov went 1-2-3. Shark Tank’s Stankiewicz managed a sixth place finish with a personal best time of 56.37.
- Collin McKenzie – 54.95
- Michael Zhang – 55.37
- Matvei Namakonov – 55.67
Girls 100y Butterfly
There was quite a bit of shuffling going on in the prelims of the Girls 100 Butterfly. Liza Goetcheus (All Star), Inez McNichols (York), and Annika Rieger (Machine) all moved into the C final from lower seeds – each moving up at least 6 spots. Occoquan’s Tess Peny, initially seeded 13th would join them in the C final after her 57.75 saw her fall to 17th.
Madisyn Carter of NCAP stayed put in the B final as the lone PVS representative for the heat, while Sophia Heilen (OCCS) and Alden Zerkle (AAC) both defended their A seeds through to the A final. Joining them in the A final will be Veronika Owen of Herndon Aquatics, who jumped up from the 34th seed to claim 5th, and Occoquan’s Emily Haugen, who similarly moved up into 7th place from the 29th seed.
- Sophie Shao – 55.81
- Sophia Heilen – 56.07
- Ashley Mellinger – 56.50
- Aiden Zerkle – 56.76
- Veronika Owen – 56.83
- Katelyn Jackovic – 57.06
- Emily Haugen – 57.31
- Kira Schrecongost – 57.38
Amanda Aidar got to the wall first in the C final, with a time of 57.13, just ahead of Peny’s 57.20 which was good enough for 18th. Goetcheus and McNichols finished 19th and 20th with Reiger in 22nd place. The B final went to Madisyn Carter, who posted a personal best time of 56.60.
Sophie Shao defended her top seed with the victory in the A final. Veronika Owen dropped more from this morning for a personal best time of 56.45 and a third place finish behind Sophia Heilen’s second place time of 55.37. Zerkle finished fifth while Haugen posted a personal best 57.12 for seventh.
- Sophie Shao – 54.34
- Sophia Heilen – 55.37
- Veronika Owen – 56.45
Boys 100y Butterfly
The early heats saw RMSC teammates Jackson Rankin and Michael Kaiser jump into the C final after being seeded 31st and 27th coming into the event. Joining them would be NCAP’s Brayden Wence, who moved up from the 35th seed to 21st. Aiden Grendysz (OCCS) held his C seed to join them. AAC’s Malcolm McKenzie was the biggest mover of the event as he posted a 51.00 to jump into the 10th spot and a B final swim. He’ll be joined by teammate Michael Zhang, who was bumped down from an A seed, and Occoquan’s Dawson Truong, who held his B seed.
NCAP’s Noah Robinson snuck into the A final with a 50.79 that secured him the eighth spot, while Benn Huffman (OCCS) and Matvei Namkonov (AAC) both jumped up from B seeds to the A final. Top seed of the night went to Joshua Hochard of Occoquan Swimming, who dipped under 50 for the first time to move from 8th seed to 1st.
- Joshua Hochard – 49.98
- Dominic Cortopassi – 49.99
- Matvei Namakonov – 50.27
- Cameron Shinnick – 50.33
- Daniel Simoes – 50.46
- Ben Huffman – 50.61
- Joe Hayburn – 50.64
- Noah Robinson – 50.79
Ryan CLancy’s 51.02 was good enough to claim the C final. Grendysz posted a 51.88 to finish fourth in the heat ahead of Rankin, Kaiser, and Wence, who rounded out the heat. Radomyr Couture dropped the hammer on the B final, cracking 50 seconds and winning with a time of 49.93. Truong finished second in the heat with a 50.71. Malcolm McKenzie and Michael Zhang finished in 12th and 13th overall.
Five more swimmers broke the 50-second barrier in the A final, headlined by Joe Hayburn’s 48.99 for first place. Daniel Simoes took second with a 49.15, just ahead of Hochard’s new best time of 49.28. Namakonov (49.58) and Huffman (50.41) both posted personal bests in their efforts. Robinson finished in 8th place overall.
- Joe Hayburn – 48.99
- Daniel Simoes – 49.15
- Joshua Hochard – 49.28
Girls 400y IM
NCAP’s Emily Buckley swam her way into the C finals by dropping 2 seconds in the morning and moving up from 36th place to 24th. Joining her in the C final would be Brooke Kenyon and Elena Baird, both from RMSC and both qualifying from lower seed times.
Maria Grishaeva (NCAP) held her C seed through to the C final, landing in 22nd place. Occoquan’s Annaleagh Stahl would also drop into the C final, despite initially being seeded 3rd.
B seeded Gwyneth Frick moved up into the A final after all was said and done, while NCAP teammate Lexi Sawwa moved down into the B final to replace her. This is an event that typically draws a lot of scratches in the finals, so some of the swimmers looking in from the outside should expect to get called back as well.
- Peri Gaguzis – 4:27.99
- Ashley Mellinger – 4:30.54
- Mary Gregory – 4:31.34
- Gwyneth Frick – 4:32.10
- Kayla Parry – 4:33.18
- Theresa Lankford – 4:33.39
- Sara Smith – 4:34.45
- Mary Feliz – 4:34.74
Sure enough, there were quite a few swimmers called up for a bonus finals swim, as well as a lot of shifting between each heat. The C final went to Faith Karr with a time of 4:35.38. Elizabeth Jackson of All Star Aquatics took advantage of scratches to claim third in the heat with a personal best time of 4:40.32. Buckley shaved a little bit more off her morning swim to finish with a 4:40.53, followed by Miranda Schuman (Machine) who touched in 4:40.67. Rounding out the C final with unexpected appearances were Occoquan’s Melia Truong and NCAP’s Kira Runnels.
A 4:33.32 from Ashley Connor took the B final as Stahl placed fourth in the heat with a 4:35. Grishaeva posted a 4:39.31 ahead of Kenyon and Baird, who both posted 4:43s to close out the heat. Ashley Mellinger won the A final with a 4:24.72, slightly ahead of Peri Gaguzis. While PVS swimmers were kept off the podium, Gwyneth Frick improved on her personal best time and finished fifth with a 4:30.45. Sawwa placed eighth overall after re-joining the A finalists.
- Ashley Mellinger – 4:24.72
- Peri Gaguzis – 4:24.94
- Theresa Lankford – 4:25.61
Boys 400y IM
Presumptive favorite J.T. Ewing inexplicably swam a 4:03.19 from the early heats to claim the top seed in the A finals. Other than Ewing, Occoquan’s Owen Hoban was the only A-seeded swimmer to pass through to the A finals as Miles Haraldsson (SDS) and Marco Minai (NCAP), third and fourth place initially, dropped into the B final and sixth seeded Peter Gilbert (OCCS) fell to the C finals.
Joshua Hernandez of RMSC would move up to the A finals with the 8th fastest time of the morning, while Occoquan’s Alex Grocholski and NCAP’s J.P. Vanderloo would claim spots in the B finals. Moving up from the early heats was Matheus Feltrin, who swam a 4:14.30, which was good enough to change his 32nd place seed to an 18th place spot in the C finals. He’ll join teammate Linus Ament and NCAP’s Ryan Chmielenski in that heat, along with any other second chance swimmers after the scratching is done.
- Haihan Xu – 3:59.16
- J.T. Ewing – 4:03.19
- Owen Hoban – 4:04.01
- Teddy Blake – 4:04.19
- Matthew Purcell – 4:06.45
- William Retsch – 4:07.43
- Trent Vacula – 4:07.92
- Joshua Hernandez – 4:08.62
John Deppe laid claim to the victory in the C final with a time of 4:10.08, a personal best by about four seconds that would’ve beaten most of the B finalists tonight. Chmielenski took second in the heat followed by NCAP teammate Jackson Tishler, who touched fourth. Colin Wood (NCAP) and Jason Doan (RMSC) rounded out the heat, swimming as alternates.
The B final went to Marco Minai in a time of 4:08.05. Haraldsson finished third in the heat with a 4:10.45, ahead of Vanderloo and Feltrin, who both posted 4:13s. Rounding out the heat were Grocholski and Ament.
While J.T. Ewing may have expected to win, he may not have expected to drop five seconds off his personal best to throw down a 3:53.78 and finish nearly ten seconds ahead of the field. This was his only event for the entire meet and he clearly made it worthwhile. Second place went to WIlliam Retsch, followed by Hoban, who was just off his personal best time from this morning. Hernandez finished eighth overall.
- J.T. Ewing – 3:53.78
- William Retsch – 4:03.45
- Owen Hoban – 4:04.63
Girls 800y Free Relay
Three teams competed in the morning heat for the 800 Free, with All Star Aquatics claiming the victory as their quartet of Addison Mostofi, Liza Goetcheus, Madeleine Simmons, and Elizabeth Jackson managed to get to the wall in 8:00.52. Mostofi led off with a 1:55.76 to give them a lead they would never relinquish.
Heat 2 went to the Fox Chapel Killer Whales, with a time of 7:47.10, which would be good enough for 4th place overall. Just behind them touching in 7:50s, H2Okie Aquatics and Severna Park took sixth and seventh places overall with a margin of 0.03 seconds between them. And not to be outdone, Loyola Blakefield got to the wall just 0.02 seconds ahead of Lancaster’s B team to claim 4th in the heat, 13th overall.
The top heat was a wall-to-wall battle between Team Pittsburgh and Lancaster’s A squad as both teams zeroed in on final times in the 7:36 range. Ultimately, Pittsburgh’s Elise Nardozzi was the difference maker with a scorching 1:50.83 anchor leg to seal the victory. Occoquan Swimming’s team consisting of Emily Haugen, Sophia Heilen, Jamie Cornwell, and Alyssa Martel put up a 7:44.13 to settle for third place. Rounding out the top five teams was NCAP’s A relay featuring Lexi Sawwa, Gwyneth Frick, Emily Buckley, and Alyssa Sagle.
- Team Pittsburgh – 7:36.33
- Lancaster Aquatics – 7:36.54
- Occoquan Swimming – 7:44.13
Boys 800y Free Relay
The JCC Swimming relay team of Daryn Din, Kirill Pankov, Daniel Grigoryev, and Nicholas Shats outpaced the field in the morning heat for the boys. Their time of 7:17.51 would be good enough to move them up to 13th place overall.
The second heat featured three teams knocking on the door to the 7:00 mark as Team Pittsburgh posted a 7:05 behind Lancaster’s 7:03.22. However, it was the hometown crew of Lucas Bureau, Joseph Trout, Elias Babcock, and Jack Nussbaum who brought home the top time of the heat for H2okie Aquatics, stopping the clock at 7:01.44.
The Occoquan Swimming quartet of Joshua Hochard, Owen Hoban, Peter Gilbert, and Ben Huffman were the only team to break 7:00 and their time of 6:54.16 gave them the win by a comfortable margin. The OCCS B relay (AJ Friend, Benny Firtag, Matt Jensen, and John Verosko) claimed fifth place with a time of 7:02.25. Completing the top five, were the A and B relays from Nation’s Capital Swimming. Evan Ingraham, Alex Crown, Xavier Orlic, and Jackson Tishler combined for a 7:00.38 to take second and the efforts of Albert Kang, Chris Shankle, Colby Lane, and Andrew Char resulted in a fourth place finish.
- Occoquan Swimming – 6:54.16
- Nation’s Capital Swimming – 7:00.38
- H2okie Aquatics – 7:01.44