As a fitting cap to an undefeated district season for the boys and girls varsity swim teams at George Mason High School, both teams took the Bull Run District title in a championship meeting Saturday at Manassas Park Community Center.
At the district meet, the girls team earned 108 points, topping second-place William Monroe High School (88) and third-place Clarke County High School (46). The boys team placed first with 127, with Central High School coming in second (73) and William Monroe coming in third (62). The meet saw swimmers from seven Bull Run District schools competing in 22 events to earn points for their teams.
Twenty-two Mustang swimmers competed at the meet, and all will advance to the Region B meet next Saturday, accomplishing what Coach Jon-Michael Lemon called a “team goal” in doing so. The top eight finishers in individual events and the top four teams in relays at the district meet move on to regionals.
The Mason boys team won all three of its relays at the district meet. Posting first-place finishes for the Mustangs were the 200-yard medley relay team of sophomores Nick Roberson and Austin Gogal, junior Lucas Cherry, and senior Sam Cashin; the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Roberson, Gogal, Cherry, and senior Reid Back; and the 400-yard freestyle relay team of freshman Ned Quill, sophomore Vincent Camacho, and seniors Back and Eric Brown. The boys 200-yard medley relay team will compete in its event at the Virginia High School League state meet, having qualified earlier this season.
Solo swimmers from the boys team placed first in four events. Among them was Cherry’s team-record-setting finish in the 50-yard freestyle event. His time of a flat 23 seconds beat his 23.12 finish earlier this season that earned him a spot at the state meet. Cherry has also qualified to compete in the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke events at state.
Roberson placed first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.31. He won the Boys District Swimmer Award for being the top-scoring swimmer on the Mustang team with the first-place finish, a second-place spot in the 100-yard backstroke, and his contributions to the relay team wins.
Other first-place finishers on the boys team were Gogal in the 100-yard fly and Back in the 500-yard freestyle.
Swimmers from the George Mason girls team placed first in one of its three relays – the 200-yard freestyle relay, with freshmen Angelika Johns and Beth Cashin, and seniors Leah Thirkill and Carolyn Schmitt. Lady Mustang relay teams placed second in the remaining two relays.
Cashin took first in the 100-yard breaststroke event with a 1:13.42 time, with Schmitt coming in close behind in second with a time of 1:17.39. Cashin has qualified this season to compete in the 100-yard breaststroke and 50-yard freestyle events at the state meet. Junior Julia Estrada took the top spot in the 500-yard freestyle event with a time of 6:11.39, barely edging out the second-place finisher’s 6:11.81 time.
Lemon considers this season one of the most successful in the past few years for the Mustang swimmers. While he admits that part of the success is due to moving out of the double-A Dulles District and into the single-A Bull Run this year, he said that another key to the achievements is that the team has “more depth” than in previous years.
“In the past, we’ve had a handful of swimmers that were state-level swimmers,” Lemon said. “There was a larger gap between top swimmers and our next-tier swimmers. This year, I think that our group as a whole is much closer to one another in terms of time and performance, so that collectively, we’re placing better in than we have been previously.”
Both Mustang teams are 8-1 on the season. Their sole losses were from an out-of-district rout by Potomac Falls – a double-A school the single-A Mustangs faced in December.
Mason will move on to the Region B meet at Manassas Park Community Center Saturday at 2 p.m. The Region B meet will determine, in part, which swimmers move on to the state meet, set for Feb. 10-11 at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.