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High water mark: Kettle Run boys place 3rd at 3A state swim meet

Wednesday, Feb. 26 | By Jeff Malmgren
The Kettle Run Cougars produced their best state performance in history Friday, but still couldn’t shake feeling haunted by what could have been.

The Kettle Run boys finished higher than ever in the team standings, placing third with 218 points during the Class 3A swimming and diving championships at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.

The Kettle Run girls did the same by placing sixth with 124 points.

Plus, the Cougars also won a state event for the first time in program history – four state events, in fact.

Nonetheless, Kettle Run placed behind Lafayette in the boys standings – a team it beat for the 3A East Region championship last weekend. Plus, boys state champion Hidden Valley benefited by scoring points in diving events, while the Cougars and many other teams could utilize only swimmers.

“Which is why I think it’s so frustrating to include diving points,” Kettle Run coach Angie Smith said. “A little disappointed still that they [do], but it is what it is.”

The Western Albemarle girls won with 304 points and Cave Spring took second with 267. The Hidden Valley boys won with 233, while Lafayette edged the Cougars by three points with 222.

“It was a little bittersweet for them,” Smith said of the Kettle Run boys. “But Lafayette actually came with more swimmers individually than us. The fact that we lost by only [three] points was pretty remarkable.”

The difference, however, between finishing second and third was Lafayette leaving with a trophy while Kettle Run went home empty handed.

“That stinks, too,” Smith said with a laugh. “You’d think first, second and third” get trophies.

Had Hidden Valley not earned 15 points in diving events, Lafayette actually would have won the state title and Kettle Run would have tied for second with Hidden Valley, Smith said.

The Cougars didn’t need a trophy to validate their 2013-14 season, though. They went undefeated during the regular season, finished as the boys region champion and girls region runner-up, and made huge leaps in the state standings.

Last season, the Kettle Run boys placed 13th at the Class AA state meet, while the girls finished 24th.

“I was really excited, coming from last year,” Smith said. “It’s pretty amazing. … The kids looked good.”

The Cougars won 14 state medals (top-eight placers) and had 23 state finalists.

Junior Henry Patrick became the most decorated swimmer in Kettle Run history by winning a pair of individual events and contributing to a relay victory.

“That was huge,” Smith said.

Patrick won the 50-yard freestyle final in a school-record 21.60 seconds. He beat runner-up Will Orrison after finishing second behind the Rockbridge swimmer during the preliminaries (21.83).

“I was like, ‘Now that made you mad, didn’t it?’” Smith said of Patrick in preliminaries.

Patrick also won the 100 free in 47.59 seconds and swam the final leg of the winning 400 free relay, also composed of Connor Webb, Scott Heckathorn and Zach Webb. The Cougars won that state-meet-finale relay in 3 minutes, 18.25 seconds – a school record.

It was a significant win for Heckathorn and Zach Webb, both seniors.

“That was their last time swimming for high school,” said Smith, who had 19 seniors this season. “I’m losing a lot.”

Patrick, Zach Webb, Heckathorn and Nick Fallows almost won the 200 free relay, too. With a time of school-record time of 1:29.34, they finished second.

“By a fingernail,” Smith said. “It was so close. … I couldn’t ask for more. That race was fast.”

York won in 1:29.23.

Zach Webb also won the 100 butterfly (51.42; school record) and placed second in the 200 individual medley (1:55.60; school record).

Also earning medals for Kettle Run, Connor Webb finished sixth in the 100 backstroke (57.05), Fallows placed seventh in the 100 fly (56.05), and the 200 medley relay team of Connor Webb, Justin Helou, Fallows and Heckathorn took fifth (1:46.37).

Elsewhere, Connor Webb took ninth in the 200 free (1:53.05) and Heckathorn placed 12th in the 50 free (23.82).

Camilla Brizzi led the Kettle Run girls by placing sixth in the 50 free (25.17), taking eighth in the 100 fly (1:00.94) and contributing to two relay medals.

“But those girls, going from 24th to sixth [at state], it’s definitely more than one person,” Smith said. “Katie Heenan did a fabulous job, and Peyton Helou.”

Heenan placed sixth in the 100 back (1:02.46) and helped the 200 medley relay team of Allison Baccus, Brizzi and Helou place fourth (11:54.80; school record). The 200 free relay team of Julia Roda, Hanna Pezza, Helou and Brizzi finished sixth (1:44.55).

Helou also placed 12th in the 50 free (25.92) and 13th in the 100 free (57.22), while Heenan finished 13th in the 200 IM (2:22.11), Baccus placed 13th in the 100 breast (1:16.72), Roda took 15th in the 100 fly (1:04.16) and the 400 free relay team of Roda, Pezza, Amber Smith and Heenan finished 11th (3:58.36; school record).

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