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Kettle Run sends 13 to state swim finals, sets 9 team records

Sunday, Feb. 17 | By Jeff Malmgren
--Photo by Joey LoMonaco
The Kettle Run Cougars scratched a lot of records Saturday.

That was music to Angie Smith’s ears.

Kettle Run, coached by Smith, capped the best season in program history by crossing out nine previous school records while at the two-day Group A/AA state swimming and diving championship meet at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center. With 16 state entries, Kettle Run used those nine record-setting performances to place 13th in the boys standings with 71 points and 24th in the girls standings with 32 points.

Hidden Valley won the boys competition with 195 points, while Western Albemarle won the girls title with 201. Liberty and Fauquier participated, but did not score any points.

The Cougars had 13 finalists advance from the preliminaries Friday with top 16 finishes and placed two individuals on the medal stand (top eight) as well as one relay team.

“It’s great. We had an awesome meet,” Smith said. “I’m just really proud of them.”

The Cougars set so many program records that Smith didn’t even realize the enormity until her staff returned to Fauquier County and compared Kettle Run’s times to its past marks.

“It’s crazy,” Smith said. “This is very unusual. Just the adrenaline and the fact that you’re swimming [against] a lot of fast kids at this meet … that’s what helped them get so many records.”

Zach Webb was part of three record-breaking swims. He gave Kettle Run its best state finish by placing sixth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 53.81 seconds, while Henry Patrick finished seventh in the 50 freestyle in 22.33. Patrick and Zach Webb also combined with Connor Webb and Scott Heckathorn to place eighth in the 400 free relay with a time of 3 minutes, 24.08 seconds.

“I was really impressed with them,” Smith said. “Henry’s young, so he’s swimming against older boys, and he just did a really good job. Zach is really talented. He’s just an all-around swimmer. To pull off the 100 fly like he did was incredible.”

Webb also took 11th in the 200 individual medley (2:02.34), while Patrick finished 11th in the 100 free (49.07) and the 200 free relay team of Webb, Patrick, Heckathorn and Ryan Kelly finished 11th (1:33.24).

After advancing to the finals for Kettle Run girls, the 200 free relay team of Kelsey Cook, Peyton Helou, Julia Roda and Camilla Brizzi placed 11th (1:43.65), Brizzi took 12th in the 100 fly (1:01.35), the 200 medley relay of Katie Heenan, Cook, Brizzi and Helou finished 12th (1:56.16), Julia Roda placed 15th in the 100 fly (1:02.71), Heenan took 15th in the 100 backstroke and Brizzi finished 16th in the 50 free (25.42).

“Being there for finals at all is amazing,” Smith said of the Cougars’ 13 qualifiers. “There were a lot of fast swimmers there; incredible races.”

Also swimming for Kettle Run but not advancing to the finals, the 400 free relay team of Amber Smith, Cook, Hannah Pezza and Roda placed 18th (3:55.57), Connor Webb finished 24th in the 100 fly (57.46) and in the 100 back (58.52), while the boys 200 medley relay team of Connor Webb, Heckathorn, Connor Keating and Ryan Kelly (1:51.84) placed 25th.

For Liberty, Chuck Crum finished 20th in the boys 500 free, while Kimmy Culver placed 25th in the girls 200 free (2:10.24) and 26th in the 100 fly (1:04.02). For Fauquier, Jake Boulter finished 20th in the boys 100 fly (56.93).

As for the Kettle Run record-setters, Zach Webb topped Patrick’s time from earlier this season in the 100 fly and Patrick beat his own time from earlier this season in the 50 free. The boys 400 free relay team broke its own 2012-13 record, while Patrick broke Michael Hudgins’ 2010-11 record in the 100 free and the boys 200 free relay team topped the time of a foursome last season.

The girls 200 free relay team also broke a 2011-12 record and the girls 200 medley relay team beat its own time from earlier this season. Brizzi broke Kelsey Smith’s 2011-12 record in the 50 free, while the girls 400 free relay team topped the time of a 2010-11 foursome.

Smith credited team unity for the Cougars’ ability to post their best state finishes in program history against a field of 86 boys and girls teams. Last season, the Kettle Run boys placed 33rd and the girls took 29th.

“The kids that are here right now are so motivating, not just with themselves, but with their other teammates. That’s just incredible for me to watch,” she said. “Not that we didn’t have that in the past, but it’s more prominent this year. That really does make a good team.”

The entire Kettle Run team, for example, lined the pool late Friday to cheer on Roda, who competed in a one-on-one swim-off for the last spot in the girls 100 fly state final. Her preliminary time of 1:02.46 put her in a tie for 16th place, so after the end of all other events Friday she faced off against Warhill’s Morgan Dowling.

Roda finished that swim-off in 1:01.39, while Dowling posted a 1:01.65.

“So she was able to come back and swim the next day for finals,” Smith said. “That was a really good thing for her.”

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