Marshall hosts regional swim meet
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High's Sophie Georgel-Walz and Spring Valley's Sam Mannon had something in common Saturday when they stepped onto the starting podium for their respective 100-yard freestyle races in the West Virginia High School Region IV Swim Meet in Frederick A. Fitch Natatorium at Marshall University.
A lane over from No. 2 seed (by times) Georgel-Walz was No. 1 Anna Davis of George Washington. Next to No. 2 Mannon was No. 1 Adam Poe of South Charleston.
Georgel-Walz saw Davis steadily pull away and win the race in meet-record time of 54.71 (three seconds faster than her seed time). Georgel-Walz took second with a personal-best 57.45.
Mannon's race went about the same way with Poe winning in 48.40 and Mannon placing second with a personal-best 50.13.
"It's really tough," Georgel-Walz said about trying to catch Davis. "I can see her pull away. You don't want anyone else to get past you."
"I was able to swim with him for a while," said Mannon, whose gone head-to-head with Poe several times this season. "He then gets ahead of me. I wasn't that far behind this time. I closed the gap."
Georgel-Walz and Mannon will get another shot at Davis and Poe next Thursday and Friday in the West Virginia State Meet at the West Virginia University Natatorium in Morgantown. The top three individuals in each event from each region qualify for the state. Remaining qualifiers will be the next fastest 12 competitors, by time, from all four regions. In relays, the top three teams from each region and next six fastest times from all regions combined move on to Morgantown.
George Washington's boys and girls repeated as regional champions. GW's girls had 177 points to 54 for runner-up Huntington High. For the boys, the Patriots racked up 138 points and Hurricane took second with 78. The top six swimmers in points made all-region.
Georgel-Walz and Mannon now look forward to another battle against Davis and Poe along with qualifiers from the other three regions.
" You try to attack," Georgel-Walz said. "I swam better today, but you saw what she did. You try to keep what you've got going and go low."
"The goal's to get to Morgantown. Mission accomplished," Mannon said. "It'll be another challenge. I'll keep working at it."
George Washington has momentum going to the state meet. A week ago, the Patriots swept the titles in the Mountain State Athletic Conference meet at the University of Charleston. For the boys, they'll be going for a third straight state championship. The girls placed second a year ago.
"We have a shot," George Washington coach Melissa Case said. "The girls will be motivated."
For Case, the big challenge Saturday was making it to the pool. She encountered car trouble in Cross Lanes, parked her car at a Sheetz station and rode in with the assistant coach. She secured a ride home after the meet.
Once here, Case lost one swimmer to a fever and a second battled through a minor illness.
"We swam exceptionally well," she said. "The kids gave their best effort. We had some exceptional times."
As for George Washington's regional dominance, Case said she doesn't work any magic.
"The kids are motivated," she said. "It's not what I do, but what I convince them they can do. They really help and push each other."