Once the Concordia boys got a 10-second win in the first event of Saturday's SAC swimming and diving finals, the 200-yard medley, Cadets coach Sean Gibson felt confident his team would take another celebratory dunk in the Helen P. Brown Natatorium pool with a trophy.
It was a different story for Bishop Dwenger coach Andrea Weadock, who said she remained on edge until the Saints' girls held off a charge by Snider in the last leg of the 400-free relay, the final event of the day.
But even in a tumultuous week when numerous athletes from multiple schools were quarantined and unable to participate, the 2021 champs each defended their crowns. Concordia claimed its fifth straight championship with 484 points, well ahead of runner-up Bishop Luers, which had 338. The Bishop Dwenger girls earned their third SAC title in four years with 448 points. Second-place Snider had 422.
“This year it means a lot because we had some adversity coming into this week. Yesterday, we had two of our seniors quarantined,” Weadock said. “We had girls step up. Those alternates come in and step up and race hard, so it's a complete team effort.”
Weadock acknowledged that leading a team through a fast-changing and potentially demoralizing situation has been a real challenge.
“I have to be positive. I have to not let them see me sweat,” Weadock said. “For me, yes, it's very nerve-wracking behind the scenes, but I have to have poise. I can't let them see that this change affects me. You have to go forward and work as a team.”
The Saints' girls did not win an event until Mallory DeWald took the 100 butterfly in 59.19 seconds, beating second-place finisher Adrianna Germann of Concordia by half a second. Hannah Weadock then won the last individual event of the day, the 100 breast, in 1:13.08 by nearly four seconds. The Saints led wire-to-wire in the 400 free relay to end the meet, but Snider's Maggie Evans started gaining on Weadock in the final leg. Weadock held and the Saints won in 3:59.05. The Panthers were second in 4:00.95.
Earlier, Evans won the 200 free for the Panthers in 2:07.08 and swam the anchor leg of the 200 free relay, which Snider won in 1:48.11. Snider also claimed the day's lone meet record when Amelia Rinehart won the 1-meter dive with a score of 496.10.
The seven-member Concordia girls team, which finished third with 315 points, claimed wins in the 200 medley relay (1:56.44) and 100 back (Lauren Harris in 1:03.97) while Katie McKay dominated the shorter freestyle races, winning the 50 in 25.47 and the 100 in 55.16.
Luca McGee of Wayne won the two remaining girls races, besting the 200 IM field in 2:12.61 and the 500 free in 5:29.95.
Despite having a potential scorer unavailable, the Concordia boys won half of the 12 events, starting with the 200 medley relay in 1:44.38, more than 10 seconds ahead of Bishop Luers.
“We came out and were able to win by that much and feel that momentum. It felt like every event on the boys side, we were just sliding down hill through out the meet,” said Gibson. “I haven't been a part of many meets where almost every time they hit the water there are season-best times.”
The Cadets' boys also won the 200 free relay in 1:40.06 and the 400 free relay in 3:42.80. Nic Doepner won the 50 free in 23.44 and Zac Shaw the 100 free in 50.96. Concordia's Tristan Wild was the only participant in the boys diving finals and earned his team 20 points with his 348-point performance.
Northrop's Zachary Purnell became the conference champ in two events, the 100 fly (53.41) and the 100 backstroke (56.84).
Nick Eddy of Bishop Dwenger won the 200 IM in 2:05.82 after passing Concordia's Aiden Gleave during the breaststroke and then won the 100 breast in 1:05.27. His teammate Robby Bergeron won the 500 free in 5:24.46.
Riley Foote of Snider won the 200 free in 1:54.60.
See a video
To see a video from the SAC swimming and diving finals, click on this URL -- https://vimeo.com/666427804