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Kettle Run boys win 3A East Region swim championship, girls take second

Tuesday, Feb. 18 | By Jeff Malmgren
Henry Patrick and the Kettle Run boys won the 3A East Region championship Sunday. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
So much for a leisurely Sunday.

Kettle Run’s swimmers and coaches were on the edge of their collective seat by the end of a lively Class 3A East Region championship meet rescheduled from Friday to Sunday due to weather conditions.

The final relay event of the day determined the outcome of the boys team competition at the Collegiate Aquatic Center in Richmond. The Cougars pulled out a thrilling victory over Lafayette in that 400-yard freestyle relay to also give Kettle Run its first region swim championship in school history.

The Kettle Run boys edged Lafayette for the team title, 324-313, while James Monroe placed third with 300 points. The Kettle Run girls finished second to Lafayette, 385-311, while Colonial Heights took third with 260 points.

In that boys 400 free relay, Kettle Run won with a school-record time of 3 minutes, 19.02 seconds, topping Lafayette’s runner-up time of 3:19.73.

“We were screaming so loud we lost our voice,” Kettle Run coach Angie Smith said of that race clinching the team championship. “The boys were just ecstatic. I can’t even explain it.

“I’m just a really proud coach right now,” she said. “It was awesome.”

The Cougars’ previous best region performance happened last season when the Kettle Run boys placed third at the Class AA Region II meet and the Kettle Run girls finished eighth.

On Sunday, the Cougars’ girls actually made the greatest leap up in the standings by taking second.

“We weren’t even expecting it,” Smith said. “We thought, sure, they’ll be top-10. But second?”

“My girls rose to the occasion and that’s the only way I can explain it,” she said. “We had a swimmer in every single event at finals. That’s what did it for us.”

Kettle Run advanced at least one swimmer to the finals in all 24 boys and girls events (16 finalists per event) and ended up winning 18 top-six medals. Most, however, paled in comparison to the gold medal won by Connor Webb, Scott Heckathorn, Zach Webb and Henry Patrick in the boys 400 free relay.

Heading into that event, the Kettle Run boys led Lafayette by only five points, 284-279. So if Lafayette had won the race (40 points), and if Kettle Run had finished second (34 points), Lafayette would have won the overall team championship by one point.

“What a race that was,” Smith said. “It was incredible.”

Lafayette actually took a significant lead of about three body lengths during the first leg of the 400. Heckathorn and Webb narrowed Lafayette’s lead during the next two legs and then Patrick got his turn in the pool.

“When my last swimmer jumped in, we knew,” Smith said. “He just dove in and you could see it. Once [Lafayette’s swimmer] made that first turn, Henry caught him.”

“Scott, Zach and Henry, they are chasers,” Smith said. “When they’re behind, they have that adrenaline to catch” opponents.

Zach Webb also won the 200 individual medley, breaking his own school record in 1:56.00, and he won the 100 butterfly, breaking his own school record in 51.76. Patrick won the 50 free and broke his own school record in 21.83, and he won the 100 free while breaking his own school record in 47.51.

Also medaling for Kettle Run were Camilla Brizzi in the 50 free (2nd, 25.46) and 100 fly (5th, 1:03.90), Katie Heenan in the 100 back (2nd, 1:01.95) and 200 IM (6th, 2:21.82), Connor Webb in the 200 free (4th, 1:53.15) and 100 backstroke (4th, 58.33), Peyton Helou in the 50 free (6th, 26.05) and 100 free (6th, 58.01), Nick Fallows in the 100 fly (6th, 57.99), Julia Roda in the 100 fly (6th, 1:04.37) and Allison Baccus in the 100 breaststroke (6th, 1:16.60).

In the relays, Connor Webb, Justin Helou, Fallows and Ryan Kelly took fourth in the 200 medley (1:50.72), while Heenan, Baccus, Brizzi and Peyton Helou placed second in the 200 medley (1:57.00). Fallows, Heckathorn, Zack Webb and Patrick finished second in the 200 free (school record 1:32.13); Petyon Helou, Roda, Hanna Pezza and Brizzi took fifth in the 200 free (1:47.69); and Roda, Pezza, Amber Smith and Heenan placed third in the 400 free (3:58.01).

The top six placers in each individual event also qualified for state, along with the top three placers in relays. Plus, many swimmers qualified via time standards earlier this season. So, Kettle Run will have 22 state entries.

The Kettle Run boys and girls each have eight individual entries and three relay entries. The Cougars will have 17 different swimmers compete in those events Friday during the 3A state meet at Virginia Tech’s Christiansburg Aquatic Center.

“It’s so hard to tell,” Smith said about how her teams will fare at state. “I do feel like Henry and Zach are really going to place high if not win their events.”

Like the North Region meet, state will be a one-day event with preliminaries in the morning and finals in the evening.

“It’s crazy,” Smith said. “Zach and Henry had eight swims – four in the morning and four in the evening. That’s a lot of races. Now, five days later, they have to race again.

“Just fingers crossed hoping they still have the adrenaline,” she said.

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